Islamic State Leader Baghdadi ‘Flees Mosul’ as Iraqi Forces Advance

AP Photo/Militant video, File

Breitbart Jerusalem, March 9, 2017:

(AFP) — Islamic State group chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is reported to have abandoned Mosul, leaving local commanders behind to lead the battle against Iraqi forces advancing in the city.

With Iraqi troops making steady progress in their assault to retake Mosul from the jihadists, a US defence official said Baghdadi had fled to avoid being trapped inside.

It was the latest sign that IS is feeling the pressure from twin US-backed offensives that have seen it lose much of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria.

Speaking to reporters in Washington, the defence official said Baghdadi had left Mosul before Iraqi forces seized control of a key road at the beginning of this month, isolating the jihadists in the city.

“He was in Mosul at some point before the offensive…. He left before we isolated Mosul and Tal Afar,” a town to the west, the official said.

“He probably gave broad strategic guidance and has left it to battlefield commanders.”

Baghdadi, who declared IS’s cross-border “caliphate” at a Mosul mosque in 2014, in an audio message in November urged supporters to make a stand in the city rather than “retreating in shame”.

Iraq launched the offensive to retake Mosul — which involves tens of thousands of soldiers, police and allied militia fighters — in October.

After recapturing its eastern side, the forces set their sights on the city’s smaller but more densely populated west.

– ‘Ran away like chickens’ –

In recent days Iraqi forces have retaken a series of neighbourhoods in west Mosul as well as the provincial government headquarters and a museum where IS militants filmed themselves destroying priceless artefacts.

The military said Wednesday they had also taken the infamous Badush prison northwest of Mosul where IS reportedly executed hundreds of people and held captured Yazidi women.

On Thursday Iraqi forces were “combing the city centre area to defuse (bombs in) homes and shops and buildings,” Lieutenant Colonel Abdulamir al-Mohammedawi of Iraq’s elite Rapid Response Division told AFP.

Forces were also “searching for snipers in the city centre,” Mohammedawi said.

The area is located on the edge of Mosul’s Old City, a warren of narrow streets and closely spaced houses that could see some of the toughest fighting of the battle.

“Currently there is no order from the operations command to advance toward the Old City. We will advance when this order is issued,” Mohammedawi said.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to still be trapped under IS rule in Mosul.

Those who did manage to escape the city said the jihadists were growing increasingly desperate.

Abdulrazzaq Ahmed, a 25-year-old civil servant, was seized by jihadist fighters as they retreated from the neighbourhood of Al-Mansur.

“We were used as human shields” said Ahmed, who managed to escape along with hundreds of other civilians to Iraqi police waiting outside the city.

Rayan Mohammed, a frail 18-year-old who was once given 60 lashes for missing prayers, said the jihadists were scrambling in the face of the Iraqi offensive.

“They ran away like chickens,” he said.

– Marines deployed to Syria –

West Mosul is the most heavily populated area under IS control and along with Raqa in Syria the last major urban centres it holds.

In Syria, a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been advancing on Raqa. Earlier this week its forces reached the Euphrates River, cutting the main road to the partly IS-held city of Deir Ezzor downstream.

A US official said Wednesday that a Marine Corps artillery battery had been sent into Syria to support the battle for Raqa — joining some 500 American special operations fighters who have been training and assisting the SDF.

The United States has been leading a coalition since mid-2014 carrying out air strikes against the jihadists in both Syria and Iraq.

Elsewhere in Syria, Turkish troops and their rebel allies have pushed south from the Turkish border and driven IS out of the northern town of Al-Bab.

Russian-backed government troops have meanwhile swept eastwards from Syria’s second city Aleppo and seized a swathe of countryside from the jihadists.

The US defence official said IS was now looking beyond the seemingly inevitable losses of Mosul and Raqa.

“I don’t think they have given up on their vision of their caliphate yet,” the official said.

“They… are still making plans to continue to function as a pseudo-state centred in the Euphrates River valley.”

About 15,000 IS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, including some 2,500 in Mosul and Tal Afar and as many as 4,000 still in Raqa, the official said.

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Exclusive video: Iraqi forces near Mosul mosque where IS group leader declared ‘caliphate’

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Also see:

The Truth Behind Media’s New Favorite Euphemism: ‘Muslim-Majority Countries’

Breitbart, by John Hayward, March 9, 2017:

Both versions of President Trump’s executive order have been caricatured as a “Muslim ban,” even though they applied to only six or seven specific countries, leaving 90 percent of the world’s population out of the mix.

The fallback euphemism is to say that Trump is “banning” immigration (they never say it is conditional and temporary) from several “Muslim-majority” countries. This is also misleading because those countries are not merely inhabited by a majority of Muslims. They are Muslim countries, period. They all have some form of Islamic law written into their legal codes.

With Iraq removed from the equation, the remaining nations affected by the order are Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia. The original executive order did not list the affected nations; it merely referred to Obama-era legislation that named them as nations of particular concern. The revised version of the order does name the affected nations because it explains why each of them is on the list.

The first version of the order did not mention Islam at all. The revised version does, but only to explain why the first order did not because this is not a “Muslim ban”:

Executive Order 13769 did not provide a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion. While that order allowed for prioritization of refugee claims from members of persecuted religious minority groups, that priority applied to refugees from every nation, including those in which Islam is a minority religion, and it applied to minority sects within a religion. That order was not motivated by animus toward any religion, but was instead intended to protect the ability of religious minorities — whoever they are and wherever they reside — to avail themselves of the USRAP in light of their particular challenges and circumstances.

Islam is not a “minority religion” in any of the six countries named by the order. In fact, all six of them officially incorporate Islamic sharia law into their legal codes.

Of the six, Iran is an outright Islamic theocracy. Its Supreme Leader is the Ayatollah, a top-ranking Muslim cleric. Iran’s legal code is explicitly based on sharia, with a smattering of civil ordinances thrown in. Iranian courts have been known to invoke sharia for such judgments as requiring a woman to be blinded in retribution for throwing acid in a victim’s face.

Iranian law nominally has some protections for religious minorities, but the absolute supremacy of Islam is not questioned. Observers have reported that religious freedom is growing steadily worse in the theocracy.

Libya is the most complex of the six nations to classify, because it does not have a functioning central government at all, following Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s disastrous intervention – a fact the mainstream media prefers not to dwell on. “Libya’s post-revolution legal system is in flux and driven by state and non-state entities,” as the CIA World Factbook tactfully puts it.

The capital city of Tripoli was seized by an Islamist coalition, with the Muslim Brotherhood a major player. Another is Ansar al-Sharia, a Salafist Islamic militia. The presence of “sharia” in its name is not a coincidence; they declared Libya an Islamic “caliphate” in 2014.

There has been success in the battle against Libyan ISIS, but al-Qaeda is still a major player. U.N.-backed unity governments tend to include a lot of people from the more extreme wings of Libyan politics. They have to because Islamists are a powerful political force in the country.

Another major force in chaotic Libya is widely described as a “secularist,” General Khalifa Haftar. Some observers wonder just how “secularist” he really is, especially if he gains control of the country and has to make deals with the powerful Islamist elements he is currently fighting.

Haftar is an old Qaddafi hand, and while the late dictator is remembered as a brutal and mercurial secularist loathed by hardline Islamists in Libya, he was sometimes given to Islamist sentiments of his own. For instance, Qaddafi once declared Islam was the only universal human religion and said, “all those believers who do not follow Islam are losers.” He named his son and once-presumed successor Saif al-Islam.

Libya’s future is a question mark, but it is highly disingenuous to describe even its present state as merely “Muslim-majority.” The interim Libyan constitution of 2011 begins with the invocation of “Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” states that Islam is the official religion of the country, and declares “sharia shall be the main source of legislation.” Until and unless a different constitution is put into effect by an internationally-recognized national government, Libya is a Muslim nation.

Somalia officially imposed sharia law through its Cabinet in 2009. “Islamic Sharia is the only option to get solutions for the problems in this country,” one minister declared. Less than 0.1% of the population follows a religion other than Islam.

The Somali government banned Christmas celebrations in December 2015, because “having Muslims celebrate Christmas is not the right thing,” as a top official put it. He likened Christmas celebrations to apostasy and said they are “not in any way related to Islam.” Foreigners were graciously allowed to celebrate Christmas in their homes, but even hotels were instructed to prevent guests from holding celebrations.

The al-Shabaab terrorist organization thinks the central government is not Islamist enough and imposes an even harsher sharia code on the sizable portions of the country it effectively controls. Many of the people living under al-Shabaab control have told interviewers they support its legal code.

Sudan is officially an Islamic state with a sharia legal code. Even the leaders of breakaway South Sudan, which want to return to a common-law system on the British model, have been struggling to purge sharia from the legal system.

Sudan, like Somalia, is not “majority Muslim” – it is about 96% Muslim, and the 3% Christian minority is brutally persecuted, despite some nominal legal protection for other religions. World Atlas notes that “some interpretations of the Muslim Law in the country fail to recognize or accept apostasy and marriages to non-Muslims,” and concludes that “Sudan leads the world as the most difficult country for Christians since freedom of religion or belief is systematically ignored.”

Syria is an uncomfortable case, as some religious minorities say they fared much better under the Assad dictatorship. Some Syrian Christians bluntly refer to Bashar Assad as their “protector” and have similar hopes for the intervening Russians. Of course, critics of the brutal Syrian regime argue that Assad’s alliance with Christians is purely cynical, and even accuse him of inflaming the Christian fear of Muslims for political gain.

Assad’s government is nominally secular, while even most of the “good guy” rebels supported by Western powers practice Islamic law through sharia courts. Syrians in contested areas complain that different sharia courts loyal to various factions, from “moderates” to hardcore al-Qaeda Islamists, issue conflicting verdicts.

At the height of the rebellion, many Syrians expressed a desire to replace the Syrian Arab Republic with an Islamic state. Then they found themselves saddled with the Islamic State, which may have led some of them to reconsider. However, there are still calls to impose sharia across Syria, portraying it as an instrument of peace and justice.

Having said that, the constitution of the “secular” Syrian Arab Republic explicitly requires the president to be a Muslim, and requires that “Islamic jurisprudence shall be a major source of legislation.” This was true of both the older constitution and the revised document prepared in 2012.

The same article declares “the State shall respect all religions, and ensure the freedom to perform all the rituals that do not prejudice public order,” but there is no question: Syria is a Muslim nation, not a “Muslim-majority nation.” Islam enjoys a privileged position in its legal code that Western liberals would not tolerate without comment from any other religion.

Yemen practices a mixture of sharia law and common law in what passes for its central government – which, of course, was overthrown by the Houthis, a Shiite Muslim insurgency supported by the Iranian theocracy. The internationally recognized Yemeni government has said the Houthis want to transform Yemen into a caliphate ruled by lineal descendants of Mohammed.

Even Houthi spokesmen who strongly disagree with that characterization have said they think “sharia should be one of the main sources of the law in Yemen, not the only source.”

The large portions of Yemen controlled by al-Qaeda are noted for the strict rule of Islamic law, including the oppression of women. Al-Qaeda regards the failure to strictly obey sharia as “debauchery.”

The Constitution of the Republic of Yemen explicitly declares it to be an Islamic state, and stipulates “sharia is the source of all legislation.” Islam is unambiguously named as the official state religion. Denouncing Islam is a crime punishable by death. Over 99% of the population is Muslim.

Iraq: Even though it is no longer listed in Trump’s executive order, it should be noted that Iraq is an explicitly Islamic nation, according to its 2005 constitution. “Islam is the official religion of the State and is a fundamental source of legislation,” Article 2 declares. “No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.”

Religious freedom is nominally protected, as long as the supremacy of Islam is acknowledged by all: “This Constitution guarantees the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and guarantees the full religious rights of all individuals to freedom of religious belief and practice such as Christians, Yazedis, and Mandi Sabeans.”

Some Iraqi clerics agitate for stricter adherence to sharia law, which introduces the dangerous question of whether Sunni or Shiite law should reign supreme.

The incorporation of Sharia law into the legal codes of these countries occurs to a degree that would revolt the American Left, if any religion except Islam was involved. Rest assured that no one in today’s mainstream media would describe, say, 15th-century Spain as a “majority Catholic” nation.

For that matter, they do not seem inclined to describe Israel as “majority Jewish”; they simply refer to it as a “Jewish state.” Israel is, in fact, only about 75% Jewish. A recent effort supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party to formally define Israel as a Jewish state failed, in part due to concerns that it could lead to discriminatory policies against the Arab population.

Its legal code includes extensive protection for religious minorities, and there are Muslim and Druze members of its parliament. Last November, one of them staged the Muslim call to prayer during a parliamentary session to protest a bill that would prevent all places of worship from using loudspeakers to summon their worshipers, because it was seen as unfairly targeting mosques.

Equivalent stunts are unwise for members of religious minorities in “Muslim-majority nations,” including the six listed in President Trump’s executive order.

In conclusion: all of the nations mentioned in both versions of President Trump’s executive order are Muslim countries, period. Every single one of them has Islam as the state religion and bases its legal code on sharia. Not a single one of these countries is a “Muslim-majority” nation that practices full and complete religious pluralism under a secular government.

Iraqi army controls main roads out of Mosul, trapping Islamic State

An Iraqi special forces soldier fires a rifle as other soldiers runs across a street during a battle in Mosul, Iraq March 1, 2017 REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

An Iraqi special forces soldier fires a rifle as other soldiers runs across a street during a battle in Mosul, Iraq March 1, 2017 REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Reuters, by Stephen Kalin, March 1, 2017:

U.S.-backed Iraqi army units on Wednesday took control of the last major road out of western Mosul that had been in Islamic State’s hands, trapping the militants in a shrinking area within the city, a general and residents said.

The army’s 9th Armored Division was within a kilometer of Mosul’s Syria Gate, the city’s northwestern entrance, a general from the unit told Reuters by telephone.

“We effectively control the road, it is in our sight,” he said.

Mosul residents said they had not been able to travel on the highway that starts at the Syria Gate since Tuesday. The road links Mosul to Tal Afar, another Islamic State stronghold 60 km (40 miles) to the west, and then to Syria.

Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris river on Feb. 19.

If they defeat Islamic State in Mosul, that would crush the Iraq wing of the caliphate declared by the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 from the city’s grand old Nuri Mosque.

The U.S.-led coalition effort against Islamic State is killing the group’s fighters more quickly than it can replace them, British Major General Rupert Jones, deputy commander for the Combined Joint Task Force said.

With more than 45,000 killed by coalition air strikes up to August last year, “their destruction just becomes really a matter of time,” he said on Tuesday in London.

The U.S. commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes U.S.-backed forces will recapture both Mosul and Raqqa, Islamic State’s Syria stronghold in neighboring Syria, within six months.

The closing of the westward highway meant that Islamic State are besieged in the city center, said Lt General Abdul Wahab al-Saidi, the deputy commander of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), deployed in the southwestern side.

Units from the elite U.S.-trained division battled incoming sniper and anti-tank fire as they moved eastwards, through Wadi al-Hajar district, and northward, through al-Mansour and al-Shuhada districts where gunfire and explosions could be heard.

These moves would allow the CTS to link up with Rapid Response and Federal Police units deployed by the riverside, and to link up with the 9th Armored Division coming from the west, tightening the noose around the militants.

“Many of them were killed, and for those who are still positioned in the residential neighborhoods, they either pull back or get killed are our forces move forward,” Saidi said.

Two militants lay dead near the field command of the CTS, in the al-Mamoun district which looked like a ghost town. A few hundred meters away, a car bomb was hit by an air strike.

STRAFING FROM ABOVE

The few families who remained in al-Mamoun said they were too scared to leave as the militants had booby-trapped cars.

Women cooked bread over outdoor ovens while men gathered on street corners as helicopters flew overhead strafing suspected militant positions further north

One of two buses parked nearby had its roof shorn off. Residents buried a 60-year-old woman who was killed on Tuesday when she stepped on an explosive device while trying to flee.

Several thousand militants, including many who traveled from Western countries to join up, are believed to be in Mosul among a remaining civilian population estimated at the start of the offensive at 750,000.

They are using mortars, sniper fire, booby traps and suicide car bombs to fight the offensive carried out by a 100,000-strong force made up of Iraqi armed forces, regional Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iranian-trained Shi’ite Muslim paramilitary groups.

About 26,000 have been displaced from western Mosul, often under militant fire, according to government figures. The United Nations puts at more than 176,000 the total number of people displaced from Mosul since the offensive started in October.

Thousands more streamed out, walking through the desert toward government lines during the day, crossing over a deep trench which appears to have served as an Islamic State defense, some waving white flags.

Among them a boy shot in the leg was limping alongside a cart carrying an older woman, while another was pushed in a wheelchair. Old people asked why there was no cars or buses to pick them up and take them to the displaced people centers.

A man said he spent 11 days hiding in his house with no food, no water and no idea of what was happening outside.

“The archangel of death would have come for us if we stayed any longer,” he said.

Aid agencies put the number of killed and wounded at several thousands, both military and civilians.

Army, police, CTS and Rapid Response units forces attacking Islamic State in western Mosul are backed by air and ground support from a U.S.-led coalition, including artillery. U.S. personnel are operating close to the frontlines to direct air strikes.

Federal police and Rapid Response units are several hundred meters only from the city’s’ government buildings.

Taking those buildings would be of symbolic significance in terms of restoring state authority over the city and help Iraqi forces attack militants in the nearby old city center where the al-Nuri Mosque is located.

Military engineers started preparing a pontoon that they plan to put in place by the side of the city’s southernmost bridge, captured on Monday. Air strikes have damaged all of its five bridges.

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Also see:

The future of counterterrorism: Addressing the evolving threat to domestic security

joscelynLONG WAR JOURNAL, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | February 28, 2017 | tjoscelyn@gmail.com | @thomasjoscelyn

Editor’s note: Below is Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee Counterterrorism and Intelligence, on the future of counterterrorism and addressing the evolving threat to domestic security.

Chairman King, Ranking Member Rice, and other members of the committee, thank you for inviting me to testify today. The terrorist threat has evolved greatly since the September 11, 2001 hijackings. The U.S. arguably faces a more diverse set of threats today than ever. In my written and oral testimony, I intend to highlight both the scope of these threats, as well as some of what I think are the underappreciated risks.

My key points are as follows:

– The U.S. military and intelligence services have waged a prolific counterterrorism campaign to suppress threats to America. It is often argued that because no large-scale plot has been successful in the U.S. since 9/11 that the risk of such an attack is overblown. This argument ignores the fact that numerous plots, in various stages of development, have been thwarted since 2001. Meanwhile, Europe has been hit with larger-scale operations. In addition, the U.S. and its allies frequently target jihadists who are suspected of plotting against the West. America’s counterterrorism strategy is mainly intended to disrupt potentially significant operations that are in the pipeline.

-Over the past several years, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies claim to have struck numerous Islamic State (or ISIS) and al Qaeda “external operatives” in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere. These so-called “external operatives” are involved in anti-Western plotting. Had they not been targeted, it is likely that at least some of their plans would have come to fruition. Importantly, it is likely that many “external operatives” remain in the game, and are still laying the groundwork for attacks in the U.S. and the West.

-In addition, the Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to adapt new messages in an attempt to inspire attacks abroad. U.S. law enforcement has been forced to spend significant resources to stop “inspired” plots. As we all know, some of them have not been thwarted. The Islamic State’s caliphate declaration in 2014 heightened the threat of inspired attacks, as would-be jihadists were lured to the false promises of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s cause.

-The Islamic State also developed a system for “remote-controlling” attacks in the West and elsewhere. This system relies on digital operatives who connect with aspiring jihadis via social media applications. The Islamic State has had more success with these types of small-scale operations in Europe. But as I explain in my written testimony, the FBI has uncovered a string of plots inside the U.S. involving these same virtual planners.

-The refugee crisis is predominately a humanitarian concern. The Islamic State has used migrant and refugee flows to infiltrate terrorists into Europe. Both the Islamic State and al Qaeda could seek to do the same with respect to the U.S., however, they have other means for sneaking jihadists into the country as well. While some terrorists have slipped into the West alongside refugees, the U.S. should remain focused on identifying specific threats.

-More than 15 years after 9/11, al Qaeda remains poorly understood. Most of al Qaeda’s resources are devoted to waging insurgencies in several countries. But as al Qaeda’s insurgency footprint has spread, so has the organization’s capacity for plotting against the West. On 9/11, al Qaeda’s anti-Western plotting was primarily confined to Afghanistan, with logistical support networks in Pakistan, Iran, and other countries. Testifying before the Senate in February 2016, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper warned that the al Qaeda threat to the West now emanates from multiple countries. Clapper testified that al Qaeda “nodes in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey” are “dedicating resources to planning attacks.” To this list we can add Yemen. And jihadists from Africa have been involved in anti-Western plotting as well. Incredibly, al Qaeda is still plotting against the U.S. from Afghanistan.

Both the Islamic State and al Qaeda continue to seek ways to inspire terrorism inside the U.S. and they are using both new and old messages in pursuit of this goal.

The jihadists have long sought to inspire individuals or small groups of people to commit acts of terrorism for their cause. Individual terrorists are often described as “lone wolves,” but that term is misleading. If a person is acting in the name of a global, ideological cause, then he or she cannot be considered a “lone wolf,” even if the individual in question has zero contact with others. In fact, single attackers often express their support for the jihadists’ cause in ways that show the clear influence of propaganda.

Indeed, al Qaeda and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) first began to aggressively market the idea of “individual” or “lone” operations years ago. AQAP’s Inspire magazine is intended to provide would-be jihadists with everything they could need to commit an attack without professional training or contact. Anwar al Awlaki, an AQAP ideologue who was fluent in English, was an especially effective advocate for these types of plots. Despite the fact that Awlaki was killed in a U.S. airstrike in September 2011, his teachings remain widely available on the internet.

The Islamic State capitalized on the groundwork laid by Awlaki and AQAP. In fact, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s operation took these ideas and aggressively marketed them with an added incentive. Al Qaeda has told its followers that it wants to eventually resurrect an Islamic caliphate. Beginning in mid-2014, the Islamic State began to tell its followers that it had already done so in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere. Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate has also instructed followers that it would be better for them to strike inside their home countries in the West, rather than migrate abroad for jihad. The Islamic State has consistently marketed this message.

In May 2016, for instance, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani told followers that if foreign governments “have shut the door of hijrah [migration] in your faces,” then they should “open the door of jihad in theirs,” meaning in the West. “Make your deed a source of their regret,” Adnani continued. “Truly, the smallest act you do in their lands is more beloved to us than the biggest act done here; it is more effective for us and more harmful to them.”

“If one of you wishes and strives to reach the lands of the Islamic State,” Adnani told his audience, “then each of us wishes to be in your place to make examples of the crusaders, day and night, scaring them and terrorizing them, until every neighbor fears his neighbor.” Adnani told jihadists that they should “not make light of throwing a stone at a crusader in his land,” nor should they “underestimate any deed, as its consequences are great for the mujahidin and its effect is noxious to the disbelievers.”

The Islamic State continued to push this message after Adnani’s death in August 2016.

In at least several cases, we have seen individual jihadists who were first influenced by Awlaki and AQAP gravitate to the Islamic State’s cause. Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife were responsible for the December 2, 2015 San Bernardino massacre. They pledged allegiance to Baghdadi on social media, but Farook had drawn inspiration from Awlaki and AQAP’s Inspire years earlier.

Omar Mateen swore allegiance to Baghdadi repeatedly on the night of his assault on a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. However, a Muslim who knew Mateen previously reported to the FBI that Mateen was going down the extremist path. He told the FBI in 2014 that Mateen was watching Awlaki’s videos. It was not until approximately two years later, in early June 2016, that Mateen killed 49 people and wounded dozens more in the name of the supposed caliphate.

Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man who allegedly planted bombs throughout New York and New Jersey in September 2016, left behind a notebook. In it, Rahami mentioned Osama bin Laden, “guidance” from Awlaki, an also referenced Islamic State spokesman Adnani. Federal prosecutors wrote in the complaint that Rahami specifically wrote about “the instructions of terrorist leaders that, if travel is infeasible, to attack nonbelievers where they live.” This was Adnani’s key message, and remains a theme in Islamic State propaganda.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has alleged that other individuals who sought to support the Islamic State were first exposed to Awlaki’s teachings as well.

These cases demonstrate that the jihadis have developed a well of ideas from which individual adherents can draw, but it may take years for them to act on these beliefs, if they ever act on them at all. There is no question that the Islamic State has had greater success of late in influencing people to act in its name. But al Qaeda continues to produce recruiting materials and to experiment with new concepts for individual attacks as well.

Al Qaeda and its branches have recently called for revenge for Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who died in a U.S. prison earlier this month. Rahman was convicted by a U.S. court for his involvement in plots against New York City landmarks in the mid-1990s. Since then, al Qaeda has used Rahman’s “will” to prophesize his death and to proactively blame the U.S. for it. Approximately 20 years after al Qaeda first started pushing this theme, Rahman finally died. Al Qaeda’s continued use of Rahman’s prediction, which is really just jihadist propaganda, demonstrates how these groups can use the same concepts for years, whether or not the facts are consistent with their messaging. Al Qaeda also recently published a kidnapping guide based on old lectures by Saif al Adel, a senior figure in the group. Al Adel may or may not be currently in Syria. Al Qaeda is using his lectures on kidnappings and hostage operations as a way to potentially teach others how to carry them out. The guide was published in both Arabic and English, meaning that al Qaeda seeks an audience in the West for al Adel’s designs.

Both the Islamic State and AQAP also continue to produce English-language magazines for online audiences. The 15th issue of Inspire, which was released last year, provided instructions for carrying out “professional assassinations.” AQAP has been creating lists of high-profile targets in the U.S. and elsewhere that they hope supporters will use in selecting potential victims. AQAP’s idea is to maximize the impact of “lone” attacks by focusing on wealthy businessmen or other well-known individuals. AQAP has advocated for, and praised, indiscriminate attacks as well. But the group has critiqued some attacks (such as the Orlando massacre at a LGBT nightclub) for supposedly muddying the jihadists’ message. AQAP is trying to lay the groundwork for more targeted operations. For example, the January 2015 assault on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris was set in motion by al Qaeda and AQAP. Inspire even specifically identified the intended victims beforehand. Al Qaeda would like individual actors, with no foreign ties, to emulate such precise hits.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State has lowered the bar for what is considered a successful attack, pushing people to use cars, knives, or whatever weapons they can get in their hands. The Islamic State claimed that both the September 2016 mall stabbings in Minnesota and the vehicular assault at Ohio State University in November 2016 were the work of its “soldiers.” It may be the case that there were no digital ties between these attackers and the Islamic State. However, there is often more to the story of how the Islamic State guides such small-scale operations.

The Islamic State has sought to carry out attacks inside the U.S. via “remote-controlled” terrorists.

A series of attacks in Europe and elsewhere around the globe have been carried out by jihadists who were in contact, via social media applications, with Islamic State handlers in Syria and Iraq. The so-called caliphate’s members have been able to remotely guide willing recruits through small-scale plots that did not require much sophistication. These plots targeted victims in France, Germany, Russia, and other countries. In some cases, terrorists have received virtual support right up until the moment of their attack. The Islamic State has had more success orchestrating “remote-controlled” plots in Europe, but the jihadist group has also tried to carry out similar plots inside the U.S.

Read more

***

Homeland Security Committee:

Multiple terrorist networks actively plot attacks against the United States, and American interests, or encourage adherents to conduct inspired attacks inside the U.S Homeland without specific direction. Though significant progress has been made in improving American counterterrorism efforts since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, challenges persist. Over the last several years, the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence (CT&I) has continually worked to identify and address these weaknesses and improve U.S. domestic security. This hearing provides an opportunity to examine the continued evolution of the terrorist threat and review recommendations for improvement from national security experts.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Rep. Pete King (R-NY), Subcommittee Chairman
Opening Statement

WITNESSES

Mr. Edward F. Davis
Chief Executive Officer
Edward Davis, LLC
Witness Testimony

Mr. Thomas Joscelyn
Senior Fellow
The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy
Witness Testimony

Mr. Robin Simcox
Margaret Thatcher Fellow
Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom
Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy
The Heritage Foundation
Witness Testimony

Mr. Peter Bergen
Vice President, Director
International Security and Fellows Programs
New American
Witness Testimony

Meet Iraq’s hipsters: Incredibly well-groomed Kurdish men launch clothing brand to prove Iraq is not just a country of war and terrorism

Dressed in snappy suits and designer sunglasses, the men from Iraq are using fashion to change the country's reputation

Dressed in snappy suits and designer sunglasses, the men from Iraq are using fashion to change the country’s reputation

  • Synonymous with constant, bloody battles with Islamic State terrorists, the men’s region has been plagued
  • Mr Erbil is a gathering of stylish Kurdish men who are widely regarded as Iraq’s first ever gentlemen’s club 
  • With snappy suits, manicured beards and sharp hairstyles – they are trying to change the way Iraq is perceived
  • The group are also fighting for women’s rights and have recruited an Iraqi popstar to help spread the word 

Daily Mail, by Gareth Davies, Feb. 23, 2017:

A group of well-groomed hipsters are attempting to change the way people perceive Iraq by giving it an injection of style with a new clothing brand.

Usually synonymous with constant and bloody battles with terrorists from Islamic State, their region of Northern Iraq has been plagued by civil war, but the pin-ups want to change that.

Mr Erbil is a gathering of Kurdish men who are widely regarded as Iraq’s first gentleman’s club and have done away with the traditional tatty outfits of the area and replaced them with snappy suits, perfectly-manicured beards and sharp hairstyles.

With around 30 core members and more than 30,000 followers on Instagram, the group is not only trying to make a statement with their clothes, but want to make a political stand too.

Dressed in Western-style suits, the men are attempting to promote cultural diversity, and are fighting for women’s rights.

Three days ago, they invited Dashni Morad – an Iraqi popstar – to fron up their Girls Inspiration campaign.

Along with a picture of the glamorous singer, they said: ‘A very young soul and a Kurdish girl who has dedicated all her time helping refugees, especially the children with the Green Kids campaign, opening two new Libraries for the Syrian and Mosoul displaced children in northern Kurdistan.

‘A brave enough soul to give leadership workshops to the Yazidi women survivors from ISIS.

‘Also known as the female voices of the World, the effort she puts for the humanity love and peace is so impressive

‘Keep up the good work Dashni Khan, you are making us proud.’

Not only is Mr Erbil a political movement, it is also a clothing brand.

The website is currently being built, but on its Facebook page, the company states: ‘We organise local and international – in the near future – trade shows and cultural events to promote the fashion system as the aesthetic expression and evolution of taste.’

The group have garnered a worldwide following with fans from the Middle East, Europe and the US.

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More on Kurdistan region :

The Kurdistan Region in Brief

With a population of 5.2 million and increasing, the four governorates of Erbil, Slemani, Duhok and Halabja cover approximately 40,000 square kilometres – larger than the Netherlands and four times the area of Lebanon. This includes the governorates administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government but does not include areas of Kurdistan outside of KRG administration, such as Kirkuk.

• The Region is geographically diverse, from hot and dry plains to cooler mountainous areas with natural springs and snowfall in the winter.

• Foreign visitors are warmly welcomed. Among the growing number of visitors are international media and business people as well as those returning from the Kurdish Diaspora.

• Not a single coalition soldier died in Kurdistan during the Iraq war, nor has a single foreigner been kidnapped in the areas administered by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). With the cooperation of citizens, the Kurdistan Region’s security forces have kept the area safe and stable. Security responsibility was formally transferred from the Multinational Forces to the KRG in May 2007.

• The capital and the seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government is Erbil, a city known in Kurdish as Hawler. The Citadel in Erbil is considered the world’s oldest continuously inhabited settlement. The next largest cities are Slemani and Dohuk. Please note that Slemani is the KRG’s official English spelling, but it can also be found with other spellings such as Sulaimani, Suleimani, Sulaimaniyah, and Suleimaniah.

• The Kurdistan Regional Government exercises executive power according to the Kurdistan Region’s laws as enacted by the democratically elected Kurdistan Parliament. The current government, led by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, assumed office in the spring of 2014.

• Iraq’s Constitution recognises the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurdistan Parliament as the region’s formal institutions and the Peshmerga forces as the Region’s legitimate security guard.

• The current coalition government consists of several political parties that reflect the diversity of the Region’s population, which includes Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs, Turkmen, Yazidis, Arabs and Kurds living together in harmony.

• More than 65% of destroyed villages have been rebuilt since being razed during the Anfal campaign perpetrated by Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1980s.

• The Kurdish language is of Indo-European origin and is among the family of Iranian languages, such as Persian and Pashto, and is distinct from Arabic. The two main dialects are Sorani and Kurmanji.

• The Kurdistan Region has 11 public universities and several licensed private universities. Some of them use English as the main language of teaching and examination, most notably the University of Kurdistan Hawler (UKH) and the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani (AUI-S).

• A new, liberal foreign investment law was ratified in June 2006, providing incentives for foreign investors such as the possibility of owning land, up to ten-year tax holidays, and easy repatriation of profits.

• To rapidly benefit from its oil and gas resources, the KRG has signed dozens of production sharing contracts with companies from 17 countries.

• The Kurdistan Region has international airports in Erbil and Slemani, with direct flights to and from Europe and the Middle East. A new international airport is under construction in Duhok.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more

Also see:

UTT Throwback Thursday: Bush Redo?

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, February 2, 2017:

On September 11, 2001, and in the weeks following that tragic day, President George W. Bush demonstrated compassion, empathy and love for his fellow Americans, while also showing the world strength and resolve.

On September 20, 2001, President Bush addressed the nation and told us “The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics; a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.”

Actually ISIS and Al Qaeda have never misquoted sharia (Islamic law) in furtherance of their actions, and there is only one “version” of Islam – the one that commands jihad until the world is under Islamic rule.

As the weeks after 9/11 rolled on, the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration before it, relied more and more on Muslim advisors inside the U.S. government to tell it about the “terrorist” threat and how to deal with it.  Karl Rove and Grover Norquist brought jihadis (“terrorists”) like Abdurahman Alamoudi (Al Qaeda), Sami al Arian (Hamas/MB), Suhail Khan (Muslim Brotherhood) and others into the Bush camp.  They believed working with “moderate Muslims” was the path to success.

Al Qaeda financier Abdurahman Alamoudi (far left), George Bush (center), Karl Rove (far right)

Al Qaeda financier Abdurahman Alamoudi (far left), George Bush (center), Karl Rove (far right)

As a matter of fact on 9/11/2001, suit-wearing jihadis from prominent U.S. Islamic organizations were scheduled to meet with President Bush at the White House to get him to fulfill his promise to shut down legal proceedings using classified evidence unavailable to defendants (read: “terrorists”) – a proposal driven by Hamas/Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami al Arian.

George and Laura Bush with terrorist leader (PIJ) Sami al Arian (center with glasses)

George and Laura Bush with terrorist leader (PIJ) Sami al Arian (center with glasses)

Following this course led to the U.S. losing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq despite the fact our military crushed our enemies on those battlefields, and to disastrous domestic counter-terrorism strategies.  This course failed because we relied on sharia adherent jihadis wearing suits to tell U.S. National Security professionals and elected officials how to fight the war.

This course continued and accelerated under the Obama administration and today there is no training program inside the U.S. government teaching federal agents in the FBI, DHS, the military or anywhere else about the enemy’s threat doctrine – sharia – nor about the Muslim Brotherhood’s jihadi network here and how it operates inside our system.  We are strategically blind to this threat.

While President Trump is taking great strides to turn around years of poor foreign and domestic policy related to the jihadi threats to the United States, the greatest hurdles to be overcome include:

(1) Establishment Republicans who still view Islam as a “religion of peace” and defend Islamic leaders in the U.S. despite the evidence on the table most of them are jihadis, and (2) an absence of deep knowledge of the enemy’s doctrine (sharia) and how they operationalize it inside the new administration.

Last week’s UTT article discussed item #2.  Item #1 is the focus of today’s discussion.

This week President Bush’s daughter Jenna proudly republished her father’s 9/17/2001 speech from inside the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. in which he proclaimed “Islam is peace.”  Really?

President Bush at the IC of Washington. Jihadi Khalid Saffuri (l), Hamas leader Nihad Awad (r)

President Bush at the IC of Washington. Jihadi Khalid Saffuri (l), Hamas leader Nihad Awad (r)

Karen Hughes, one of President Bush’s closest advisors who is the former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, sits on the board of the jihadi-defender organization Institute for Global Engagement (IGE).

Karl Rove, the architect for much of President Bush’s plans after 9/11, has never admitted any of his policy recommendations were failures with regards to the Islamic threat nor did he change his positions despite the fact we lost the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Yet today, Rove retains significant status in the Republican party.

Arguably two of the most venerated U.S. Senators – John McCain and Lindsey Graham – have already demonstrated on numerous occasions they are free of any clue about the Islamic threat America faces, cannot determine friend from foe, and publicly chastised President Trump for freezing immigration from nations hostile to the United States.

This is all pertinent because some of the key positions inside the new administration are being filled by former Bush administration personnel, including the new Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Tom Bossert.

U.S. strategies aimed at “Global War on Terrorism” failed under the Bush administration when the U.S. government wrote constitutions in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2005 creating Islamic Republics under sharia, thus achieving Al Qaeda’s regional objectives for them.

This is the price of having no deep understanding of the enemy, their strategies, nor their modus operandi.

As President Trump continues to push his agenda forward to secure the United States, the primary point of friction will come – at a critical time – from establishment Republicans.  The same people who helped propel our enemies into the halls of power under the Bush administration and who were mostly silent under the Obama administration – save a few heroes like Bachmann, Gohmert, and others – will continue along the road of blissful ignorance or direct hostility towards any aggressive actions to actually defeat the Islamic Movement.

Why is this important to average Americans?  Because it’s your safety.  It’s your future.

As UTT continues to state, this war will be won or lost at the local level.  Even if President Trump does everything he promised and acts flawlessly as our Commander in Chief, local and state police must carry the burden to identify and uproot the enemy from their communities.

Currently, they are not prepared to do it because they have not been trained to do it.  By and large, they cannot identify the threat and, therefore, cannot deal effectively with it.

This is UTT’s mission, and we are working with state and local officials to prepare them for the coming battle.  It is what we do.

This mission will have a much greater chance of success if those at the federal level also had a deep knowledge of this threat.

Corruption, Terrorism, and Genocide: The 7 Nations Covered by Trump Executive Order

AP/Various

AP/Various

Breitbart, by John Hayward, January 31, 2017:

The media is misrepresenting President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugee admission as a “Muslim ban” – or, more cleverly, a ban on immigration from “Muslim-majority countries.”

In truth, the ban applies to everyone from seven specific countries. In fact, one of the first families caught at the airport when the executive order went into effect was a Christian family from Syria.

These seven nations were not chosen at random. They were all singled out as exceptional security risks in the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015 and its 2016 extension. In fact, President Trump’s order does not even name the seven countries. It merely refers to the sections of U.S. Code that were changed by the Terrorist Prevention Act:

I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order.

A different section of the executive order does refer to Syria specifically, because it calls for the indefinite suspension of Syrian refugee admissions, until such time as the President believes security concerns have been adequately addressed.

The list of seven nations affected by Trump’s executive order was, therefore, compiled by President Barack Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, in a series of judgments that actually goes back to Obama’s first term, circa 2011. Barack Obama made this list, not Donald Trump, and there was very little resistance from congressional Democrats at any step in the process of arriving at the final list of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.

Nor should there have been congressional resistance, because that list is eminently sensible. Several of these countries are disasters because of Obama foreign policy, while others were security nightmares long before he took office. Here is a review of current conditions in those nations:

Iraq: Of course, Iraq is currently fighting the Islamic State for control of Mosul and other captured territories. This is creating a flow of both retreating ISIS fighters and refugees from contested areas.

ABC News notes that while some Iraqi soldiers fighting in Mosul “feel a little bad” about Trump’s exec order, as one of them put it, others understand his reasoning. “We don’t want our doctors and professors to keep going to another country and make it greater than our own,” said one Iraqi soldier, who punctuated his comment by exclaiming, “Honestly, I love Trump!”

Many of the Iraqi refugees have been mistreated by local forces, which could easily make them targets for radicalization. The UK Guardian reported on Sunday that human rights groups are processing complaints about the outright torture of children suspected of connections to the Islamic State, which in turn has an extensive program for radicalizing children and turning them into brainwashed jihadi killers.

Shiite militia groups backed by Iran, some of which were murdering U.S. soldiers just a few years ago, are heavily involved in the fighting. There are concerns these emboldened, battle-tested, heavily armed militias will move into Syria and cause a new sectarian crisis. Many of these groups are units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, for all intents and purposes, and would become shock troops for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad as he finishes off the last elements of the rebellion against him.

The Iraqi government, it must be said, does not have the most sterling record for honesty and efficiency. Transparency International recently rated Iraq’s government as one of the most corrupt in the entire world. The Iraqi parliament reflexively responded to Trump’s executive order with an ill-considered “reciprocity ban” that will do significant damage to the Iraqi nation if enacted, at the very moment it is fighting a desperate battle to drive out ISIS. That is not the kind of government that can be readily trusted to provide the data needed for “enhanced vetting.”

Iran: Contrary to the fictions peddled by the Obama Administration, Iran is still very much an enemy of the United States. Its government is actively involved in subversive efforts across the Middle East, and around the world.

Even in the last months of the Obama administration, long after Obama’s huge economic concessions and cash payments to Tehran, the State Department continues to classify Iran as the world’s top state sponsor of terrorism. The State Department remains concerned about “a wide range of Iranian activities to destabilize the region.”

The Iranians are still taking hostages, including U.S. citizens. They put their hostages through sham “legal proceedings” involving secret courts and lawyers who are not always permitted to speak with their clients. They store their hostages in hideous prisons that would pass inspection in no civilized country.

On Sunday, Iran continued its defiance of Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with yet another secret test of a banned ballistic missile.

Syria: It is astonishing that anyone thinks “vetting” is possible for many refugees from war-torn Syria, whose sinister central government still does not control many parts of the country.

ISIS, of course, is headquartered in Syria, and al-Qaeda is one of the strongest military forces in the rebellion. Syrian resistance groups are so difficult to screen that the Obama administration could only find tiny handfuls of reliable “moderate” fighters to arm and train; they were promptly kidnapped, killed, or co-opted by terrorist groups after Obama deployed them. The “white hat rebel” program ended as a laughingstock across the Middle East.

Terrorist groups are still hunting down and destroying “moderate” rebel units to this very day, even during the “ceasefire” brokered by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Worse, Syria has become a pressure-cooker for jihad, with groups once regarded as moderate becoming unmistakably radical over the past five years.

ISIS militants fleeing the battlefields of Iraq have been falling back into Syria, while Syrian ISIS fighters have been fleeing from their own battlefield reversals. The return of Islamic State militants, and other battle-hardened jihadis, from Syria to Western nations has long been seen as a major security concern.

The Syrian civil war is universally regarded as one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. Every party to the conflict has been blamed for causing civilian casualties, while some of them deliberately target civilians. The Assad regime has used indiscriminate conventional weapons, and weapons of mass destruction, against rebel-held districts. Civilians have been deprived of food, power, sanitation, and medicine in besieged areas for months, sometimes for years. This will create a huge population that is susceptible to radicalization by terrorists who blame Western powers for either inflicting horror upon civilians, or failing to prevent it.

Libya: Due to the U.S. media’s poor reporting on the continuing disaster of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s war in Libya, most Americans probably do not realize Libya still lacks a functioning central government. The brief spate of coverage after the rise of Libyan ISIS ended with reports that a “Government of National Accord” had been installed, but in truth it only controls a portion of the country, and some observers believe it is on the verge of collapse. A Qaddafi-era general named Khalifa Haftar is working to seize power, and the Russians have been cozying up to him. The end result of Obama policy in Libya could very well be another Russian client state in the Middle East.

Haftar currently controls the government that used to be recognized by the international community as Libya’s legitimate administration. That government was chased out of the national capital, Tripoli, by a coalition of Islamist militias, widely known as Libya Dawn. They are still a force to be reckoned with, and constitute the third major Libyan government.

ISIS is still a serious problem in Libya, as demonstrated by U.S. air raids against Islamic State positions on President Obama’s very last day in office. “They have been largely marginalized but I am hesitant to say they’ve been completely eliminated in Libya,” a U.S. defense official said at the time.

Somalia: Somalia has been fighting a vicious insurgency from an Islamist terror organization called al-Shabaab, whose name means “The Youth.” It aggressively recruits young Muslims, including young Somalis living in the United States.

The group has links to both al-Qaeda and ISIS. The primary leadership decided not to swear fealty to the Islamic State, leading to something of a schism between different factions of al-Shabaab.

Al-Shabaab is not just a gang of furtive terrorists lurking in the shadows – it effectively controls large portions of rural Somalia, and has been waging war against neighboring Kenya. An attack launched just this weekend killed dozens of Kenyan troops, according to al-Shabaab claims disputed by the Kenyan government.

Al-Shabaab is one of the most savage Islamist terror organizations in the world, responsible for horrific massacres like the slaughter of 150 students at Garissa University College in April 2015, and 67 murdered at the Westgate shopping center in the Kenyan capital. An attack on the Dayah hotel in Mogadishu killed eight people just last week.

Al-Shabaab killers are notorious for asking potential victims to prove they are devout Muslims in order to spare their lives.

Somalia’s government was ranked the most corrupt in the world by Transparency International, in the same study that named Iraq one of the worst. That is not exactly news, because Somalia’s government has been listed as the most corrupt on Earth for ten years straight. For the sake of comparison, the Number Two and Three worst governments on Transparency International’s list are South Sudan and North Korea.

Somalia’s most recent elections were an absurd carnival of bribes and voter intimidation, even with U.N. oversight. The BBC declared the country “has not had a functional national government since the ousting of its former leader Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.”

Sudan: As mentioned above, the Sudanese government is a corrupt disaster. The country actually split in half in 2011. Over 1.5 million people have been killed in the Sudanese civil war, while 2 million refugees have been displaced from the Darfur region.

The president of the Republic of Sudan is an iron-fisted Islamist dictator named Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been in power for over 25 years, after seizing power in a 1989 coup that came after two decades of civil war.

Bashir is wanted for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court. Those charges have been pending since 2009. There are actually three counts of genocide against him. He is supposedly under an international travel ban, but he travels anyway, occasionally cutting his trips short when he thinks he might be arrested.

The Sudanese government imposed sharia law on its provinces in the Nineties. Bashir has been linked to Janjaweed militias, which serve as his own personal storm troopers, noted for their scorched-earth tactics and indiscriminate use of mass-casualty weapons against civilians. Some observers fear the Janjaweed will eventually ship Bashir’s leash and overthrow the government in Khartoum.

Sudan is listed as a state sponsor of terrorism and, until recently, it was politically aligned with Iran. Sudan has proven to be friendly terrain for all sorts of gangsters and terrorists, although its political realignment over the past few years reportedly included more cooperation on counter-terrorism, in a bid to get off the American list of terrorist sponsors. Even after that realignment, Hamas terrorists seemed to have little trouble traveling through Sudan, or raising money there.

Yemen: Yemen is a horrifying bloodbath of civil war and terrorist insurrection, which ties many of the other nations on this list together. Sudan, for example, has been part of Saudi Arabia’s coalition in Yemen, ever since it turned away from Iranian patronage.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting a proxy war in Yemen, where there have been over 10,000 civilian casualties. The U.S. has been providing weapons to Saudi Arabia, whose coalition is blamed for many of the civilian deaths, so Yemeni resentment of the United States is a very real factor to consider when estimating the dangers of radicalization.

The U.S. blocked an arms sale to the Saudis in December 2016 after a Saudi coalition airstrike hit a funeral in the capital of Sana’a, leading to 140 deaths. The Saudi coalition has also been criticized for bombing Doctors Without Borders hospitals.

The internationally-recognized government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi was displaced by an Iran-backed Shiite insurgency from the Houthi minority, aided by forces loyal to the previous president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Describing the state of Yemeni government as “chaotic” would be a vast understatement. Major cities like Sana’a have been subjected to violent takeovers and sieges, while the Yemeni wilderness is largely controlled by al-Qaeda.

On Sunday, a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed, and three others wounded, in a firefight with al-Qaeda forces in central Yemen. Fourteen al-Qaeda fighters were reportedly killed, including the brother-in-law of the late al-Qaeda guru, Anwar al-Awlaki. It was the first counterterrorism operation authorized by President Trump.

In October, the U.S. Navy was obliged to strike ground targets in Yemen, after missiles were fired at American ships stationed off the coast.

These 73 sitting Democrats voted to ban visas from some Muslim countries. That law still exists.

nancy-pelosi-san-franConservative Review, by Daniel Horowitz, January 31, 2017:

Trump’s executive order is so modest that the foundation of it is essentially existing law. That law was passed unanimously by both bodies of Congress in 2002. In fact, it garnered the support of 16 Democrat senators and 57 Democrat House members who are still serving in their respective bodies!

Following 9/11, Congress passed the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act, which addressed many of the insecurities in our visa tracking system. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously. The bill was originally sponsored by a group of bipartisan senators, including Ted Kennedy and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. (F, 0%). Among other provisions, it restricted non-immigrant visas from countries designated as state sponsors of terror:

SEC. 306. RESTRICTION ON ISSUANCE OF VISAS TO NONIMMIGRANTS FROM COUNTRIES THAT ARE STATE SPONSORS OF INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM.

(a) IN GENERAL- No nonimmigrant visa under section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C.1101(a)(15)) shall be issued to any alien from a country that is a state sponsor of international terrorism unless the Secretary of State determines, in consultation with the Attorney General and the heads of other appropriate United States agencies, that such alien does not pose a threat to the safety or national security of the United States. In making a determination under this subsection, the Secretary of State shall apply standards developed by the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Attorney General and the heads of other appropriate United States agencies, that are applicable to the nationals of such states.

The directive to cut off non-immigrant visas from countries designated as state sponsors of terror is still current law on the books [8 U.S. Code § 1735]. Presidents Bush and Obama later used their discretion to waive the ban, but Trump is actually following the letter of the law — the very law sponsored and passed by Democrats — more closely than Obama did. Trump used his 212(f) authority to add immigrant visas, but that doesn’t take away the fact that every Democrat in the 2002 Senate supported the banning of non-immigrant visas.

At present, only three of the countries —  Sudan, Syria, and Iran —  are designated as state sponsors by the State Department. At the time Democrats agreed to the ban in 2002, the State Department also included Libya and Iraq in that list. Although Libya and Iraq were on the list due to the presence of Gadhafi and Saddam Hussein as sponsors of terror, there is actually more of a reason to cut off visas now. Both are completely failed states with no reliable data to vet travelers. Both are more saturated with Islamist groups now than they were in 2002. The same goes for Yemen and Somalia. Neither country is a state sponsor of terror because neither has a functioning governments. They are terrorist havens.

Thus, the letter of the law already applies to three of the countries, and the spirit of the law applies to all of them. Plus, the State Department could add any new country to the list, thereby making any future suspension of visas from those specific countries covered under §1735, in addition to the broad general power (INA 212(f)) to shut off any form of immigration. Given that Trump has backed down on green card holders, his executive order on “Muslim countries” is essentially current law, albeit only guaranteed for 90 days!

Sixteen sitting Democrats, including their Minority Leader, voted for the 2002 bill [several of them were in the House at the time]:

Sanders, I-Vt. (F, 17%)

Schumer, D-N.Y. (F, 2%)

Stabenow, D-Mich. (F, 8%)

Wyden, D-Ore. (F, 6%)

Durbin, D-Ill. (F, 2%)

Feinstein, D-Calif. (F, 0%)

Leahy, D-Vt. (F, 6%)

Udall, D-N.M. (F, 4%)

In addition, such prominent Democrats as former Vice President Biden, former Secretary of State Clinton, former Secretary of State Kerry, and former Majority Leader Reid vote voted for the bill.

In the House, 57 sitting Democrats voted for the 2002 bill, including leadership members, such as Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. (F, 10%), Steny Hoyer, D-M.D. (F, 8%), and James Clyburn, D-S.C. (F, 8%).

Dianne Feinstein has now introduced a bill to overturn Trump’s executive order, but her bill would also overturn, in part, the law on the books she herself sponsored and supported in 2002. In addition, a number of Republicans who are whining about the order, such as John McCain, R-Ariz. (F, 32%), voted for the 2002 bill.

The 2002 bill also established a program to monitor foreign students in the U.S. As part of that program, the Bush administration created the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), which required visa recipients from countries that represented a security risk (at least 25 countries fell into that category) to register with an ICE office and report regularly about their plans. Unfortunately, Obama’s DHS abolished the program in May 2011. Now, there are twice as many foreign students in the United States, including well over 150,000 from the very countries originally monitored by the Bush administration’s program.

If anything, the need to ratchet down immigration and visas from the Middle East is even more important now than after 9/11. Back then we were concerned with Al Qaeda-style, command-and-control attacks whereby professional operators infiltrate our country in order to commit a large-scale terror attack. Theoretically, strong intelligence can preempt these attacks. What we are dealing with today is a ubiquitous threat of homegrown terror from years’ worth of irresponsible immigration policies, in conjunction with cyber jihad.  Any number of people from these countries who subscribe to Sharia can do us harm with smaller attacks that cannot be picked up by the intelligence community.

Yet, many Republicans are now to the left of even where Democrats were just 15 years ago. As for Democrats, any shred of intellectual honesty and concern for American security has been compromised to serve their ultimate goal of creating a permanent voting bloc at any and all costs.

Also see:

Seven Inconvenient Facts About Trump’s Refugee Actions

 (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Breitbart, by John Hayward, January 29, 2017:

The sober and logical reasons for President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and visitors are rising above the noise after an evening of hysterical over-reactions and emotional meltdowns on the nation’s TV networks.

Advocates of sane, secure immigration policy have long noted that it’s almost impossible to have a reasonable discussion of the refugee and immigration issues, because it’s been sentimentalized and politicized beyond the realm of rational thought.

This weekend brings them another superb example of media-magnified shrieking about fascism, bleating about “white nationalists,” howling about “religious persecution,” false invocations of the Constitution, and theatrical sobbing on behalf of the Statue of Liberty.

For readers who want to wallow in the emotion, examples can be found in this handy dossier of hysteria compiled by the Washington Post. But clear-eyed adults prefer to examine plain facts about Trump’s executive order:

1. It is NOT a “Muslim ban.” You will search the Executive Order in vain for mentions of Islam, or any other religion. By Sunday morning, the media began suffering acute attacks of honesty and writing headlines such as “Trump’s Latest Executive Order: Banning People From 7 Countries and More” (CNN) and printing the full text of the order.

Granted, CNN still slips the phrase “Muslim-majority countries” into every article about the order, including the post in which they reprinted its text in full, but CNN used the word “Muslim,” not Trump. The order applies to all citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. It does not specify Muslims. The indefinite hold on Syrian refugees will affect Christians and Muslims alike.

As Tim Carney at the Washington Examiner points out, the largest Muslim-majority countries in the world are not named in the Executive Order.

More countries may be added to the moratorium in the days to come, as the Secretary of Homeland Security has been instructed to complete a 30-day review of nations that don’t provide adequate information for vetting visa applicants.

It’s also noteworthy that the ban is not absolute. Exceptions for “foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas” are expressly made in the order. The Departments of State and Homeland Security can also grant exceptions on a “case-by-case basis,” and “when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.”

There is a provision in the Executive Order that says applications based on religious persecution will be prioritized “provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”

This has been denounced as a “stealth Muslim ban” by some of the very same people who were conspicuously silent when the Obama administration pushed Christians – who the most savagely persecuted minority in the Middle East, with only the Yazidis offering real competition — to the back of the migration line.

2. The order is based on security reviews conducted by President Barack Obama’s deputies. As White House counselor Kellyanne Conway pointed out on “Fox News Sunday,” the seven nations named in Trump’s executive order are drawn from the Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015. The 2015 “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015” named Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Syria, while its 2016 update added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

“These are countries that have a history of training, harboring, exporting terrorists. We can’t keep pretending and looking the other way,” said Conway.

3. The moratorium is largely temporary. Citizens of the seven countries named as security risks are banned from entering the United States for the next 90 days. Refugee processing is halted for 120 days. The longest-lived aspect of the ban may prove to be the halt on Syrian refugees, but that isn’t given a time frame at all. It will last “until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest,” as President Trump wrote.

4. Obama banned immigration from Iraq, and Carter banned it from Iran.
“Fact-checking” website PolitiFact twists itself into knots to avoid giving a “true” rating to the absolutely true fact that Jimmy Carter banned Iranian immigration in 1980, unless applicants could prove they were enemies of the Khomenei theocracy.

One of Politifact’s phony talking points states that Carter “acted against Iranian nationals, not an entire religion.” As noted above, Trump’s Executive Order is precisely the same – it does not act against an “entire religion,” it names seven countries.

As for Barack Obama, he did indeed ban immigration from Iraq, for much longer than Trump’s order bans it from the seven listed nations, and none of the people melting down today uttered a peep of protest. Richard Grenell summed it up perfectly in a Tweet:

5. Trump’s refugee caps are comparable to Obama’s pre-2016 practices: David French, who was touted as a spoiler candidate to keep Donald Trump out of the White House during the presidential campaign – in other words, not a big Trump fan – wrote a lengthy and clear-headed analysis of the Executive Order for National ReviewHe noted that after the moratorium ends in 120 days, Trump caps refugee admissions at 50,000 per year… which is roughly the same as President Obama’s admissions in 2011 and 2012, and not far below the 70,000 per year cap in place from 2013 to 2015.

Obama had fairly low caps on refugees during the worst years of the Syrian civil war. He didn’t throw open the doors to mass refugee admissions until his final year in office. Depending on how Trump’s review of Syrian refugee policy turns out, he’s doing little more than returning admissions to normal levels after a four-month pause for security reviews.

6. The Executive Order is legal: Those invoking the Constitution to attack Trump’s order are simply embarrassing themselves. The President has clear statutory authority to take these actions. As noted, his predecessors did so, without much controversy.

Most of the legal arguments against Trump’s order summarized by USA Today are entirely specious, such as attacking him for “banning an entire religion,” which the order manifestly does not do. Critics of the order have a political opinion that it will in effect “ban Muslims,” but that’s not what it says. Designating specific nations as trouble spots and ordering a pause is entirely within the President’s authority, and there is ample precedent to prove it.

It should be possible to argue with the reasoning behind the order, or argue that it will have negative unintended consequences, without advancing hollow legal arguments. Of course, this is America 2017, so a wave of lawsuits will soon be sloshing through the courts.

7. This Executive Order is a security measure, not an arbitrary expression of supposed xenophobia. Conway stressed the need to enhance immigration security from trouble spots in her “Fox News Sunday” interview. French also addressed the subject in his post:

When we know our enemy is seeking to strike America and its allies through the refugee population, when we know they’ve succeeded in Europe, and when the administration has doubts about our ability to adequately vet the refugees we admit into this nation, a pause is again not just prudent but arguably necessary. It is important that we provide sufficient aid and protection to keep refugees safe and healthy in place, but it is not necessary to bring Syrians to the United States to fulfill our vital moral obligations.

French’s major objection to the Executive Order is that applying it to green-card holders is “madness,” but unfortunately many of the terrorists who attacked Americans during the Obama years were green-card holders. Daniel Horowitz and Chris Pandolfo addressed that subject at Conservative Review:

Both liberals and conservatives expressed concern over hundreds of individuals going over to fight for ISIS. We are already limited in how we can combat this growing threat among U.S. citizens. Given that it is completely legal to exclude non-citizens upon re-entry, Trump extended the ban to legal permanent residents as well.

If a Somali refugee is travelling back to Somalia (so much for credible fear of persecution!), government officials should have the ability to prevent that person from coming back when necessary. Obviously, there are some individuals from these seven countries who already have green cards and we might not want to exclude. That is why the order grants discretion to the State Department to issue case-by-case exemptions for “religious persecution, “or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship.” A CBP agent is always stationed at any international airport from which these individuals would board a direct flight to the United States (Paris and Dubai, for example). That individual would not allow anyone covered by this ban onto a U.S.-bound flight unless he grants them a hardship exemption.

Indeed, it appears that green card holders returning yesterday from those seven countries were all granted entry.

Because he is a progressive globalist, Obama deliberately blinded us to security threats, in the name of political correctness and left-wing ideology. Ninety or 120 days isn’t much time for Trump to turn all that around, especially because it is unlikely much will change in the seven countries Trump named.

The hysterical reaction to Trump’s order illustrates the very thing that worries advocates of strong immigration security: Americans’ security is the lowest priority, far below progressive ideology, crass political opportunism, and emotional theater.

We’re being effectively told by the theatrical class to tolerate a certain amount of Islamic terrorism because their feelings would be hurt by the tough measures we need protest ourselves from a tough enemy. But this time, President Trump is proving tough enough to push our security up into the top priority.

***

GORKA: Obama’s Farewell Speech Puts Narrative and Spin Before Safety of the American People

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-2-04-08-pm-640x480Breitbart, by John Hayward, January 12, 2017:

Breitbart News National Security Editor Dr. Sebastian Gorka, author of the best-selling book Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War, appeared on Fox Business Network to offer his take on departing President Obama’s statement that “no foreign terrorist organization has been able to conduct a terrorist attack on U.S. soil” during his administration.

“My take is, I live in reality, Maria,” Gorka told host Maria Bartiromo. “Yesterday was Alice in Wonderland. It was a wilderness of mirrors. It was spin and narrative over truth.”

“This is outrageous,” he continued. “This the moment when President Obama could have shown great graciousness. He could have handed over the baton with style, admitted some of his mistakes, and just welcomed the new administration. Instead, the lies continue.”

“We’ve had more than 13 attacks linked directly to outside jihadi organizations,” Gorka noted. “The Fort Hood shooter – let me just concentrate on one of them, Maria. The Fort Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hassan, wasn’t just ‘inspired by’ jihadism. He wasn’t just reading jihadi literature. He was emailing Anwar al-Awlaki. He was emailing al-Qaeda’s leadership in Yemen.”

“And the President has the bald-faced cheek to stand up in front of the American people and say ‘No, no, no, no foreign attacks,’” he exclaimed. “It is parsing. He took a leaf out of the playbook of President Clinton, when he said well, it depends what your definition of ‘is’ is. That’s what yesterday was.”

Bartiromo noted that another achievement Obama claimed during his farewell speech was the closing of Guantanamo Bay… only to see the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee demand a halt to Gitmo transfers the very next day, following the review of new intelligence reports.

“I was told by various individuals inside the national security enterprise that he is adamant, because he’s so embarrassed that on his first day in office he signed that executive order closing Gitmo, eight years ago,” Gorka said. “Simply through personal sheer embarrassment, he says, ‘I have to close it this month.’ This is not about national security. It’s about prestige and ego.”

“These are bad people, Maria,” he said of the remaining detainees. “And Gitmo isn’t a detention facility. Gitmo is an intelligence asset. That’s how we found out where bin Laden was, through interrogations of KSM. This is again narrative more important than reality, spin more important than the safety of the American people.”

Fox News contributor Robert Wolf, a board member of the Obama Foundation, leaped to President Obama’s defense. He claimed Dr. Gorka’s comments were disrespectful to the outgoing President, arguing that Obama justified the false statement Gorka and Bartiromo criticized with a disclaimer that he wasn’t referring to “homegrown terrorists,” and lauding Obama for reducing the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Your guest, I hope he gets a job in the next Democrat administration. What a water carrier,” Gorka responded.

“Removing troops from a theater of combat is not the definition of victory. I recommend you open a history book. The definition of victory is when the enemy stops killing you. Tell your spin to the dead of Orlando,” he said to Wolf.

When Bartiromo interjected that Obama did oversee the killing of Osama bin Laden, Gorka replied, “Oversee it? Yeah. Anybody who was in that chair would be overseeing it, whether they were left or right.”

“Let me talk about the military,” he said. “You talked about them, your guest mentioned the military. Just before the speech, I had a conversation with a three-star general who is in charge of counter-terrorism issues here in America. He said the counter-terrorism effort under President Obama is shambolic, and morale is at its lowest level ever. That’s from inside.”

“Don’t try and take the bravery of our military and wrap yourself in it, when we have ISIS become the largest insurgent jihadi group in modern history, and when we have the SITE Intelligence Group say outside of Iraq and Syria, we have had a jihadi attack every 83 hours. Not 83 days, every 83 hours. 65 million refugees in the world, in most part thanks to jihadi extremism. If that’s a success story, I have a bridge to sell your guest,” Gorka said.

He predicted Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson would have “a little bit of heat put on him” during the remainder of his confirmation hearings, but noted he is “a man who is in charge of one of the largest, most successful companies in the world.”

“I think he’ll do swimmingly,” he predicted. “He’ll skate through. There will be a little bit of rhetoric and posing for the cameras, but I’m confident that these nominees will be confirmed.”

Christmas Market Massacre Proves Ignoring Muslim Warnings Will Get You Killed

berlin-truck-attackConservative Headquarters, by  George Rasley, CHQ Editor | 12/21/16

Hidden in the media coverage of the carnage at Berlin’s Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) was a hint or two that German intelligence had some previous indication that Christmas markets and other Christian holiday celebrations were potential targets for Muslim terrorists.

In actuality the warnings, both tactical and strategic, were not mere “indications”; they were clear for all who wished to heed them.

On November 22, 2016, the U.S. State Department issued a stark warning for tourists to Europe, advising them of “credible information” of an attack on Christmas markets this holiday season.

The UK Express reported the warning in an article headlined, “Europe’s Christmas markets at risk of ISIS terror attack, US warns tourists.” “Credible information indicates the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events,” said the release.

“US citizens should exercise vigilance when attending large holiday events, visiting tourist sites, using public transportation, and frequenting places of worship, restaurants, hotels, etc. … Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds, when possible,” the warning concluded.

Even earlier this fall, on September 14, 2016, under the headline, “Germany preparing for Nice-style attack as report says ISIS could strike at ANY TIME,” the UK Express quoted a secret report from Germany’s intelligence services predicts that Islamic terrorists can strike at any time in an “unconventional” manner like the truck massacre in Nice.

These tactical warnings were largely ignored by the public and were apparently of little practical utility to the German authorities who it appears did not harden the approaches to the Berlin Christmas Market. Nor did they have the personnel on hand to apprehend the hijacker who killed the Polish truck driver and then plowed the truck loaded with steel straight through the tents and stalls of the market killing at least 12 visitors celebrating a Christian tradition dating back to the Late Middle Ages.

However, what’s even worse, is that of less utility to the German authorities were the clear strategic warnings given by the Muslim invaders twelve years ago in an interview with leading German magazine der Spiegel.

In 2005, in article titled, “What al‐Qaida Really Wants,” Yassin Musharbash interviewed Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein about his remarkable reporting on al‐Qaida’s inner circle and his book “al‐Zarqawi ‐ al‐Qaida’s Second Generation.”

Hussein told Musharbash, “I interviewed a whole range of al‐Qaida (AQ) members with different ideologies to get an idea of how the war between the terrorists and Washington would develop in the future.” What he then describes are seven phases the terror network hoped would establish an Islamic caliphate which the West will then be too weak to fight.

I will focus on just the final phases of the plan, but you can read the entire article and review the seven phases of the Muslim conquest of the West through this link.

The Fifth Phase, between 2013 and 2016, was to be the point at which an Islamic state, or caliphate, could be declared – and it was. The plan was that by this time, Western influence in the Islamic world would be so reduced and Israel weakened so much, that resistance will not be feared. Al‐Qaida hoped that by then the Islamic state will be able to bring about a new world order.

As 2016 closes it is debatable how much of the Fifth Phase was accomplished. The Caliphate was declared and clearly American influence in the Islamic world has been much-weakened, but Israel remains strong.

However, it is certainly arguable that, thanks to Barack Obama, a new world order is emerging with Iran as the nuclear armed Middle Eastern hegemon, Russian influence ascendant and, in the face of an expansive and aggressive China, the United States in retreat from the Western Pacific.

Now here is the key point regarding the Berlin Christmas Market terrorist attack and the building tempo of Muslim terror; the Sixth Phase Hussein reported is that from 2016 onwards there will a period of “total confrontation.”

As soon as the caliphate has been declared Hussein reported the “Islamic army” it will create will instigate the conclusive “fight between the believers and the non‐believers” which was predicted by Osama bin Laden and is central to Muslim millennialism.

What does Phase Six look like?

Priests are murdered in their Churches, Muslims demand an end to Germany’s Oktoberfest, Christmas Markets and Christian symbols are attacked. Priests remove Nativity scenes to avoid offending Muslims, restaurants remove traditional pork dishes, Christians are ordered to “pray in silence” so as not to offend Muslim migrants and now in Germany, Christians are being forced to hide their Bibles due to death threats from migrant Muslims.

Knowing that Phase Six of the AQ plan for its war against the West was one of “total confrontation” why would Western leaders, such as Angela Merkel, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, invite millions of Muslim invaders into their country?

But they have.

And so, thanks in large measure to Angela Merkle, a Muslim army has successfully crossed the Mediterranean, European culture and nation-states are in full retreat, and Phase Six of the Muslim conquest of the West is well and successfully under way.

According to the AQ timeline in der Spiegel we are now in the first year of the period of “total confrontation,” and so far, the Islamist army is winning. It is time Western leaders, such as Angela Merkel, take the Muslim leadership at its word.

Post Script: And if you think it isn’t happening in America consider the increasing tempo of Muslim terrorist attacks, including bombings, mass murder and random stabbings and the cultural war being waged that has seen even the mention of Christmas banned from the public square through the demands of Muslim Brotherhood fronts and terrorist affiliated organizations.

Mosul Update: Islamic State Fielding a Serious Defense of the Caliphate

A mix of conventional military and insurgent tactics is making the going tougher than anticipated. The Sunni / Shia split promises to bedevil the hard work that is still to come.

CounterJihad, November 17, 2016:

The Islamic State (ISIS) came out of a union of traditional Islamist radicals from al Qaeda in Iraq with members of Saddam’s military professionals.  In its defense of the city of Mosul, ISIS is showing that its leaders have managed to bring a professional understanding of how to leverage both conventional and insurgent tactics to maximum advantage.  The weight of numbers is against them, but they are fielding effective and vicious tactics to make their enemies pay dearly for their victories.

On the conventional side, CounterJihad has learned that ISIS successfully rendered the Mosul air field unusable for the forces pressing in on the city.  Much of the strategy of the coalition of Iraqi, Iranian, and American forces has been built around capturing outlying areas that can then be used as effective staging grounds for the push into the city proper.  ISIS anticipated this strategy.  Having no use for an airfield itself, it suffers neither long- nor short-term costs for destroying the airport.  We are also hearing that a second nearby airport near Tal Afar has been captured by Iranian-backed Shia militias, but has proven to be heavily mined with IEDs.

ISIS has also deployed snipers to slow the advance of their enemies into these neighborhoods.  Traditionally, snipers can be contested with the use of air strikes or artillery.  ISIS has been raising the cost of that by forcing Mosul civilians to remain in their  homes.  Snipers deployed on top of those homes are then protected, to some degree, by the human shields within.  American air power is less likely to strike a house that is thought to be full of civilians, although doing so is justifiable under the Doctrine of Double Effect.*  Iraqi and Iranian-led forces are less careful about such things, but the tactic does show some limited effectiveness given the reliance on American warplanes for much of the air strike capability.

Another tactic that shows a blend of insurgent and conventional military understanding has been the use of suicide vest attackers to slow military advances.  The Long War Journal reports 79 such attacks in Mosul’s province.  Our sources tell us that there have been such attacks in a “majority” of the sectors of the operation.  The suicide vest is an insurgent tactic, but it is functionally very much like a Hellfire drone strike:  it delivers a similar payload in a similarly accurate way, as if the human wearing the vest were a guided missile.  It is unclear whether the suicide attackers are motivated by a desire for Paradise, or threats to their families.  Either way, it is clear that ISIS has managed to develop a capacity to deliver these attacks on an industrial scale.  It is a tactic that they are using in the place of an air force or similar surgical strike capability.

The campaign is thus proving costly.  The hard part has not started yet, either.  These are fights for staging grounds and outlying areas.  The push into the heavily defended central city is yet to come.

There remains a serious concern with regard to the composition of the forces attacking Mosul, too.  As mentioned, the Iranian-backed Shia militias have been tasked with taking Tal Afar.  It is a city well-known to American veterans of the Iraq war, because it was one of the prototypical models for the new counterinsurgency campaign that would come to be known as the Surge, or the Awakening.  Colonel H. R. McMaster led the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment to a stunning victory over al Qaeda in Iraq, one that proved lasting because of his commitment to treating the Sunni population with justice.  The Mayor of Tal Afar visited Fort Carson, later, to personally thank American forces for freeing his city of Islamist terror.

”Are you truly my friends?” he asked through a translator. “Yes. I walk a happier man because you are my friends. You are the world to me. I smell the sweet perfume that emanates from your flower of your strength, honor and greatness in every corner of Tal Afar. The nightmares of terror fled when the lion of your bravery entered our city.”

Deploying these Shia militias to take Tal Afar instead suggests that no similar success will follow.  The Institute for the Study of War reports that both the militias and the formal Iraqi Security Forceshave already been committing war crimes against the Sunni population.  The Shia militias who were turned loose on Saddam’s home town of Tikrit disappeared hundreds while razing the homes of those they decided were personal enemies of Iran.

If this conduct continues, only chaos looms in the future of Ninevah province.  Iran and Iraq will not create a peace in that desert unless they resist a temptation that they seem committed, instead, to sating in full.

* The Doctrine of Double Effect is an important element in Just War Theory, which is the traditional Western philosophical approach to war.  The doctrine itself arose during the Middle Ages as Christian thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas applied Aristotelian reasoning to questions of war, but the roots of Just War Theory are older still.  They lie in the efforts of the Church to try to stem the horrors of the constant warfare that came during the weakening of the Roman Empire, and the chaos that came after the fall of that empire.  The Doctrine of Double Effect speaks to cases, like the bombing of a house hosting a sniper but also an innocent family, in which an act of war can cause significant harm as well as attaining some good.  Thus, there is a double effect:  a good effect, but also a bad effect.

The doctrine proposes a two part test for whether or not the action is justifiable.  The first is that the good to be attained must be proportionate to the harm being done.  While killing one sniper may not seem proportionate to killing a whole family of innocents, the killing of the sniper is part of a campaign to eliminate a regime that licenses Islamist sex-slavery and engages in terrible abuses of innocents.  Thus, the good to be accomplished is arguably proportionate: indeed, eliminating ISIS is arguably a very great good indeed.

The second part is that the act must be discriminate, a technical term that means that the harm being done is neither your end, nor the means to your end.  There is a thought experiment that helps clarify this question:  If, by miracle, the harmful effect was avoided, would you be satisfied with the outcome?  In the current case, assume that an American aircraft bombed the sniper’s location and — by miracle — none of the innocents inside were hurt.  Would we be satisfied with the outcome?  Obviously, we would be delighted if that happened.

Since the thought experiment is satisfied, the act is discriminate.  If it is also proportionate, as it very arguably is, the bombing of the building is a justified act of war.  The death of the family is a tragedy, but the moral fault for it lies on those who elected to use them as human shields, not on the pilot who bombs the building.

***

Also see:

Iraqis Push Deeper Into Islamic State’s Mosul Stronghold

Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al Assadi, in a black shirt and purple beret, the commander of Iraqi Special Operations Forces, spoke with a resident of Mosul's Arpachiya neighborhood on Sunday. PHOTO: YAROSLAV TROFIMOV/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al Assadi, in a black shirt and purple beret, the commander of Iraqi Special Operations Forces, spoke with a resident of Mosul’s Arpachiya neighborhood on Sunday. PHOTO: YAROSLAV TROFIMOV/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

WSJ, by YAROSLAV TROFIMOV and ALI A. NABHAN, Nov. 13, 2016:

MOSUL, Iraq—Iraqi troops pushed deeper into the country’s second largest city on Sunday, securing densely populated areas as commanders said Islamic State resistance began to buckle.

“The first neighborhoods were the hardest because Daesh desperately fought to retain them. Now, as we go forward, I expect the battle to get easier,” said Brig. Gen. Maan al Saadi, the commander of the 2nd Group of Iraqi Special Operations Forces, which are spearheading the Mosul offensive. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the terrorist group.

“The enemy is collapsing and losing control, and we are now taking only two days to seize a neighborhood where we planned to be fighting for four days,” he said.

In the Arpachiya neighborhood, secured on Saturday, Abed Abu Ahmed marked the first morning free of Islamic State with a shave. The 63-year-old engineer stood outside his home Sunday, small cuts on his chin the only reminder of the beards Islamic State mandated for all adult males.

“We have been counting minutes until the troops arrived here,” he said. “I don’t care if we lose our cars, if we lose our homes, as long as Daesh is gone from here.”

Islamic State has been putting up a fierce fight. Since the campaign began on Oct. 17, the militants have dispatched more than 200 suicide car bombs just against the black-clad Iraqi Special Operations Forces units that are pushing into Mosul from the east, commanders say. Other Iraqi and Kurdish units are advancing from the three other directions.

U.S. special operations forces are also on the ground in Mosul, advising the Iraqi commanders and providing liaison with American warplanes that hover in the skies above the city. At an outpost in eastern Mosul, the U.S. troops could be seen on Sunday launching mortars and firing from a rooftop gun.

What makes this fight especially difficult is that, unlike in past battles to reclaim the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah or Tikrit, Mosul remains packed with civilians. More than 1.5 million people are believed to still reside in the city, the biggest urban area in Iraq or Syria that remains in Islamic State’s hands.

That limits the utility of air power or artillery, which can’t be used to strike densely populated areas without risking harm to civilians, and makes the mission of Iraqi troops particularly hazardous.

“Daesh is taking advantage of civilians as human shields. A family of civilians would be inside the house, and the enemy would be targeting us from its rooftop,” Gen. Saadi said.

The advance of Iraqi tanks and armored vehicles had been slowed down by Islamic State’s new approach of strewing the roads with welded antitank obstacles, he added. In response, Iraqi forces have changed their tactics and now send foot patrols that remove these obstacles ahead of the armored columns.

The fear of suicide car bombs, which can’t be easily stopped, means that no civilian cars can be seen on the roads in the parts of Mosul that have been retaken from Islamic State. Those who drive them risk being mistaken for bombers and shot from a distance. The troops also usually block off side streets and alleyways with seized private vehicles, to prevent suicide car bombers from approaching.

With many water and sewage pipes broken during the fighting, streams are coursing down the streets and pooling into small lakes. In some areas, bearded cadavers of killed Islamic State fighters still lie on the ground.

Mosul civilians, when they move to escape the fighting, usually travel on foot, carrying bags with their possessions and waving white flags. In relatively safer areas of eastern Mosul that had been cleared earlier, such as Samah, troops hand out water bottles and Styrofoam trays of rice and beans to the families that approach them.

“When civilians come by we are not allowed to treat them rudely or shout at them. We’re giving them so much water and food that we are running out ourselves,” said soldier Yahya Majid, minutes after disbursing bottled water to a local family in Samah.

In Arpachiya, a middle-class neighborhood of pleasant two-story villas, clearing operations against Islamic State concluded only on Saturday.

Most of Mr. Abu Ahmed’s neighbors got a clean shave on Sunday, too, using razors for the first time in the 2½ years since Islamic State captured the city. “There has been no freedom at all, nothing,” said one neighbor, Ismail Khalil, his voice drowned out by the rattle of gunfire. “Daesh was asking us for help but nobody did that because we all know that the security forces are on the right side.”

On Sunday morning, as Gen. Saadi and Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al Assadi, the overall commander of Iraqi Special Operations Forces, arrived to inspect the battlefield, soldiers waved from a rooftop an upside-down black-and-white Islamic State flag they had captured from the militants.

Islamic State’s positions weren’t far away, just across the road in the Bakr neighborhood. Within minutes of the generals’ arrival the gunfire became so intense that it was difficult to hear a conversation. Shortly thereafter, a car bomb went off a mile or two away, sending a mushroom cloud of black smoke into the sky.

When the shooting died down, Gen. Assadi strolled down the street, greeting local residents who ventured from their front gates, all smiles.

“I recognize you, I have seen you on television,” beamed 70-year-old elder Abbas Mohammed as he greeted Gen. Assadi. “We feel like it is a holiday today.”

“You are our people and our family, our sisters and mothers,” Gen. Assadi said, and immediately asked for help in tracking down Islamic State militants who remain in the area: “We want you to cooperate with us and to guide us to where they are because they have caused you all this pain for two years.”

Islamic State’s members have all fled, Mr. Mohammed assured him. “If there is anyone from Daesh in the neighborhood, we will inform you immediately.”

There most certainly are Islamic State members around, commanders say. In recent days, Iraqi Special Operations Forces captured some 50 wanted Islamic State militants who shaved off their beards and tried to blend in among civilians in eastern Mosul, according to officers.

Asked whether Islamic State left behind sleeper cells ready to strike behind the front lines, Lt. Gen. Munaf Abbas, the deputy commander of Iraq’s Counterterrorism Service, didn’t hesitate.

“One hundred percent,” he said.

“We can’t know who is an innocent citizen and who still has Daesh ideas in his head.”

Also see:

Baghdadi Tells Would-Be Jihadists to Start Populating Far-Flung ISIS Provinces

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PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, November 2, 2016:

In his first audio message since December, self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi told ISIS fighters who have steadily been losing ground since the start of the 17-day-old offensive on Mosul to hang in there as the coalition massing against them is part of their apocalyptic prophecy.

Baghdadi’s half-hour-long recording, titled “This is What Allah and his Messenger Have Promised Us” and released by ISIS’ Al-Furqan media, did not come with any video. It comes as reports have said the ISIS leader is trapped in Mosul and unable to flee the Iraqi army, while others note that ISIS’ supply pipeline to the west — leading to the Islamic State capital, Raqqa — is still open.

In fact, as Iraqi troops entered Mosul this week to find little resistance so far — and their losses have included an Iraqi jet killing dozens of ISIS commanders strategizing at a hotel swimming pool — Baghdadi reminded followers that Mosul isn’t an Islamic State capital, but a “minaret.”

He tells the “soldiers of the caliphate” to “be patient, stand firm against the U.S. Air Force and allies — they will be defeated.” He admonishes the jihadists to “hold the ground” and “don’t fight among yourselves.” Even though the offensive is led by the Iraqi army and Peshmerga, he frames it as an assault by “crusaders” and Jews.

He tried to stoke sectarian conflict in the offensive that has included Shiite militias.

Baghdadi appealed to Saudi Muslims, saying the caliphate is “your only hope” and calling on them to wage attacks against Saudi leaders, the media and police.

Last week, the State Department evacuated family members of those stationed at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, citing “security information indicating extremist groups are continuing aggressive efforts to attack U.S. citizens in areas of Istanbul where they reside or frequent.” No other diplomatic posts in Turkey were affected and the consulate remains open.

U.S. citizens were warned to “avoid travel to southeast Turkey and carefully consider the risks of travel to and throughout the country.”

In his message, Baghdadi noted that Turkey was afraid of being attacked by ISIS — the terror group previously issued warnings to Ankara after the government heeded international calls to crack down on the flow of foreign fighters and supplies crossing the Turkish border — but had now joined “the apostates to fulfill its greediness in Iraq and Syria.” He could have been referring to a controversial map appearing on Turkish TV that showed the country’s borders swallowing Mosul, Aleppo, Irbil and Kirkuk, like in Ottoman times. He also decried Turkey’s participation in the assault on Mosul.

The ISIS leader called on followers to “make it your objective” to “spread fear and terror in Turkey,” and also said they should target Turkish soldiers in Syria as they’re “equivalent to any dog.”

If those wanting to join ISIS can’t make it to Iraq or Syria, he said, they should head to Libya or other ISIS provinces around the globe. Libyan forces, though, have been gradually clearing ISIS’ onetime stronghold of Sirte and are expecting full liberation of the city soon. That has flushed terrorists into the desert.

Baghdadi addresses jihadists in the provinces, including Afghanistan, the Caucasus, Indonesia, Philippines, Sinai, Bangladesh, West Africa and North Africa, as the “base of the caliphate,” and warned that “kuffar [disbelievers] will try to split you.” He tells them to have patience and not be discouraged by the loss of leaders as they can be replaced.

Baghdadi acknowledged the August death of spokesman and Syria commander Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, then added that the caliphate “was not affected” by the loss.

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