Paris knife terrorist swore allegiance to ISIS leader before attack

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, May 13, 2018:

The Islamic State has released a short video purportedly showing the jihadist who attacked several people with a knife in Paris yesterday. The footage was released by the group’s Amaq News Agency. A screen shot of the young man can be seen above. FDD’s Long War Journal cannot independently verify that the person shown was responsible for the knife attacks. However, the video is similar to a number of other self-recorded clips released by the Islamic State after a series of small-scale attacks in Europe since mid-2016.

The masked man swears allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and also exhorts Islamic State followers to continue fighting. A similar formula was used in previous Amaq videos (see below).

The terrorist, who reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar,” killed one person and wounded four others with a knife in the Opéra district of Paris. He was then shot and killed by police.

Amaq News quickly claimed responsibility for the operation, saying in a statement that the “attacker who stabbed multiple people in the city of Paris was a soldier of the Islamic State who carried out the operation in response to the call to target coalition nations.” Amaq has employed similar phrasing after a number of operations in the past, repeatedly saying that jihadists were seeking revenge against the anti-ISIS coalition. The Islamic State’s spokesmen and propagandists have repeatedly called for such attacks.

According to BBC News, authorities say the assailant was born in 1997 in Chechnya and may have been a suspected extremist before he struck.

Islamic State terrorists and supporters have executed a string of attacks inside France since Jan. 2015. The latest before yesterday came in March, when a jihadist took hostages at a supermarket in Trèbes. [For a list of Islamic State-connected attacks in France, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: Islamic State claims its ‘soldier’ took hostages in southern France.]

Similar videos of terrorists swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi

The videos listed below featured jihadists who recorded their bayat (oath of allegiance) to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi prior to their attacks. The clips were then released online by the Islamic State’s propaganda arms, either via Amaq News Agency or Furat Media. (The list presented here is an updated version of an analysis previously published by FDD’s Long War Journal.)

On July 18, 2016, an Afghan teenage refugee bordered a train in the German city of Würzburg and hacked at passengers. The teenager, identified as Muhammad Riyad, brandished a knife in an Amaq video as he swore his loyalty to Baghdadi. (The Grozny attacker repeated this scene.)

On July 24, 2016, a veteran jihadist from Syria blew himself up, perhaps accidentally, outside of a music festival in Ansbach, Germany. More than a dozen people were injured. The bomber, identified as Mohammad Daleel, rehearsed the oath of allegiance to Baghdadi in an Amaq video released online two days after his attack.

On July 26, 2016, a pair of jihadists assaulted a church during morning mass in Normandy, France, killing an elderly priest and taking several people hostage before being gunned down by police. Amaq’s video showed the two performing the oath of allegiance to Baghdadi shortly before carrying out the murder.

On Aug. 17, 2016, two young jihadists, identified as Uthman Mardalov and Salim Israilov, assaulted Russian policemen in Balashikha, which is east of Moscow. The pair swore allegiance to Baghdadi in footage that was disseminated by Amaq.

On Dec. 19, 2016, Anis Amri, a Tunisian man, drove a large lorry into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin. Twelve people were killed in his vehicular assault. Days later, Amri was subsequently killed during a shootout with Italian police in Milan. Amaq released a video of Amri swearing allegiance to Baghdadi, and US officials discovered that he had ties to Islamic State operatives in Italy.

On Aug. 19, 2017, a young man went on a stabbing rampage in the Russian city of Surgat, wounding eight people. The terrorist was shot and killed by authorities. Two days later, on Aug. 21, Furat media (another Islamic State propaganda arm) released a short video featuring the jihadist responsible for the Surgat assault. The masked man, identified as Masa’ud al-Surghuti, swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, whom he addressed as the “Emir of the Believers” and the caliph. Al-Surghuti called upon supporters to lash out with the simplest weapons they can find, including household tools.

Then, on Mar. 20, a lone assailant stabbed and slashed at police in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Shortly afterwards, Amaq News released a video of the Baghdadi loyalist brandishing a knife as he sat in front of a small Islamic State flag on the wall behind him. He addressed the “brothers” who are on “social networks” and implored them to lash out. He told fellow believers that they should kidnap or kill “all apostates” wherever they may live.

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

Authorities say ISIS-linked family conducted suicide bombings at Indonesian churches

K9 police examine the scene following attacks outside the Surabaya Pentecostal Church (GPPS) in Surabaya, East Java, on May 13. A series of blasts struck three churches in Indonesia on Sunday, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens in the deadliest attack in years in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country. (AFP/Juni Kriswanto)

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, May 13, 2018:

A family of Islamic State supporters carried out suicide bombings at three churches in the Indonesian city of Surabaya earlier today, according to authorities. “We have identified the bombers. It is highly likely that they shared a familial background,” Indonesian police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian said, according to the The Jakarta Post.

According to Gen. Tito’s account of events, the father of the family “allegedly dropped off his wife and two daughters, aged 9 and 12,” at the Indonesia Christian Church. The mother reportedly blew herself up in the company of her children. The father set off to bomb the Surabaya Center Pentecostal Church, driving his minivan at the building. Meanwhile, two of the couple’s sons attacked the Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic Church.

The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the bombings, but did not identify the terrorists in its first statements. “Three martyrdom attacks result in at least 11 Christians and church security guards being killed and 41 being injured in the city of Surabaya located in the region of East Java in Indonesia,” the group’s Amaq News Agency reported. Amaq’s casualty claim was generally consistent with independent reports. The number of people killed has reportedly risen to 13, while more than 40 were wounded.

The Islamic State then issued a longer claim as well, describing the perpetrators as “soldiers” of the so-called caliphate. The claim did not indicate any familial bond between the terrorists, nor did it provide the level of detail offered by the police.

“After putting their trust in Allah, several Khilafah soldiers set out towards three Crusader temples located in Surabaya city in East Java region in eastern Indonesia,” the Islamic State’s claim reads. “The first istishhadi targeted the Pentecostal Central Church with his explosive vehicle, while the second one detonated his explosive vest in the Santa Maria Catholic church. Meanwhile, the third attack targeted the Indonesian Christian Church with an explosive motorbike.” The self-declared caliphate describes the victims as “Crusaders.”

According to Tito, the family was associated with Jamaah Anshar Daulah (JAD), and some reports indicate that members of the family may have spent time in Syria.

The US State Department designated JAD as a terrorist organization in Jan. 2017. The US government noted at the time that JAD “is a terrorist group based in Indonesia that was formed in 2015 and is composed of almost two dozen Indonesian extremist groups that pledged allegiance to” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Foggy Bottom also noted that JAD provided the personnel for the Jan. 2016 attack in the capital of Jakarta. That plot was orchestrated by Bahrun Naim, an Islamic State cyber planner who has remotely directed a series of plots in Indonesia. [For more on Naim and JAD’s role in the Islamic State’s network, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: Indonesian authorities hunt Islamic State operative’s cyber recruits.]

The church bombings came just days after other Islamic State-affiliated militants orchestrated a prison riot in Depok, south of Jakarta.

The Islamic State and its predecessor organizations have long targeted churches in Egypt, Iraq and elsewhere.

The cover story (“The Ruling on the Belligerent Christians”) of the ninth edition of the group’s Rumiyah (“Rome”) magazine, released in May 2017, contained a lengthy defense of operations aimed at Christian civilians. The author concluded that “targeting these churches with ruin and destruction is a matter that is permitted in the Shari’ah, and it is allowed to use this as a means of attaining closeness to Allah.” That is, the jihadists argued that “martyrdom” attacks aimed at churches would allow the perpetrators to achieve divine glory. Rumiyah’s authors told readers that even the blood of Christian women and children is permissible. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Islamic State leader in Egypt says church bombings aren’t popular.]

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

Five Top ISIS Officials Captured in U.S.-Iraqi Sting

Iraqi state television broadcast images of four of the men arrested in the operation.

New York Times, by Margaret Corker, May 9, 2018:

BAGHDAD — Five senior Islamic State officials have been captured, including a top aide to the group’s leader, in a complex cross-border sting carried out by Iraqi and American intelligence, two Iraqi officials said Wednesday.

The three-month operation, which tracked a group of senior Islamic State leaders who had been hiding in Syria and Turkey, represents a significant intelligence victory for the American-led coalition fighting the extremist group and underscores the strengthening relationship between Washington and Baghdad.

Two Iraqi intelligence officials said those captured included four Iraqis and one Syrian whose responsibilities included governing the Islamic State’s territory around Deir al-Zour, Syria, directing internal security and running the administrative body that oversees religious rulings.

Iraq’s external intelligence agency published a statement confirming the arrests, but did not mention any details of the role played by the Americans or the Turks. The two Iraqi intelligence officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details that had not been made public.

Turkey did not immediately comment on the operation. The White House and the C.I.A. declined to comment.

The developments quickly took over many Iraqi news broadcasts on Wednesday night, with news anchors praising Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for what the intelligence service called a “major victory.” The news came at an opportune time for Mr. Abadi, who faces a tight parliamentary race on Saturday.

The two Iraqi officials said that they had been tracking several of their targets for months, but the breakthrough came at the start of the year.

An Iraqi intelligence unit responsible for undercover missions had tracked an Iraqi man, Ismail Alwaan al-Ithawi, known by the nom de guerre Abu Zeid al-Iraqi, from Syria to the Turkish city of Sakarya, about 100 miles east of Istanbul, these officials said.

Mr. Ithawi, described by the Iraqis as a top aide to the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, had been in charge of fatwas, or religious rulings, in the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate. He was also in charge of the education curriculum, and was a member of the body that appointed security and administrative leaders for the Islamic State’s territory, which had included large parts of Iraq and Syria.

He had been living in Turkey with his Syrian wife under his brother’s identity, one of these officials said.

The Iraqis sent the Turks an intelligence file they had amassed on Mr. Ithawi, and the Turkish security forces arrested him on Feb. 15, and extradited him to Iraq, this official said.

Iraqi and American intelligence officials then spent weeks interrogating him, learning the details and whereabouts of other ISIS leaders in hiding, the officials said.

The American-led coalition used this information to launch an airstrike in mid-April that killed 39 suspected Islamic State members near Hajin, in the Deir al-Zour district of Syria, the second official said.

The joint Iraqi-American intelligence team then set a trap, according to these officials. They persuaded Mr. Ithawi to contact several of his Islamic State colleagues who had been hiding in Syria and lure them across the border, the officials said.

The Iraqi authorities were waiting, and arrested the group soon after they crossed the frontier, the officials said.

Those arrested included Saddam al-Jammel, a Syrian who had been the head of the Islamic State territory around Deir al-Zour, and Abu Abdel al-Haq, an Iraqi who had been the head of internal security for the group. Two other Iraqis were also arrested, the officials said.

Iraq’s state television broadcast images of four of the detainees. Wearing yellow prisoner jumpsuits, the men, some with long beards and some clean-shaven, explained in short statements their responsibilities in the Islamic State. Each appeared to be in good health.

It was unclear where they were being held or whether they had been given access to a lawyer.

Turkey made no public comment on the arrests, but frequently announces arrests of Islamic State suspects in Turkish cities. Last week, Turkish news media reported the capture of three people in Sakarya who were accused of being members of the Islamic State. The reports said one of the three was the group’s leader in Deir al-Zour.

It is not known if those arrests were related to the arrest of Mr. Ithawi.

Relations have been strained between Turkey and the United States recently, in particular over American support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

But counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries remains close. Turkey, which was criticized for allowing jihadists from all over the world open access to Syria in the early years of the Syrian war, has closed its border and rounded up hundreds of suspected Islamic State members in Turkey over the past two years.

Falih Hassan contributed reporting from Baghdad, Carlotta Gall from Istanbul, and Eric Schmitt from Washington.

U.S. Islamic Schools Teaching What ISIS Teaches

Understanding the Threat, by Stephanie Ameiss, April 26, 2018:

Would it be a problem if ISIS jihadis were teaching in U.S. Islamic schools?

If you answer “Yes” then why is it okay to have the same material ISIS teaches being taught in U.S. Islamic schools?

The text book What Islam is All About is the most widely used 7th grade text book being taught in Islamic schools across America.

In the description of how to use this book, author Yahiya Emerick  explains, “Nearly every statement, paragraph or teaching is followed by reference from the Koran.”

As is taught at the highest level schools of Islamic jurisprudence, What Islam is All About teaches that Islam is not a religion, but a complete way of life governed by sharia (Islamic law).

This textbook for 7th grade children teaches there are 3 duties in Islam:  Dawah, Jihad, and Encouraging Good & Forbidding Evil (“good” and “evil” as defined by sharia).

Dawah is the call or invitation to Islam, and is mandatory before muslims can wage jihad.

“The caliph makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya)…and the war continues until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax in accordance with the word of Allah Most High.”

[Um dat al Salik, Islamic Sacred Law]

What Islam is All About teaches children that “Jihad” is “most often associated with physically confronting evil and wrongdoing” and the book has a picture of a tank, just in case the children are confused about its meaning.

Ensuring the children understand the duty of jihad in Allah’s eyes, this textbook teaches muslim-American children that those who are killed in jihad are “martyrs” or “Shahids” who immediately go to paradise.

In fact, this is exactly what doctrinal Islam teaches.

The Islamic legal definition of jihad in sharia (Islamic law) is warfare against non-Muslims.

Sharia (Islamic law) clearly states:  “Jihad means to war against non-Muslims”  (Um Dat al Salik, Reliance of the Traveller, Book O9.0)

To be clear, U.S. citizens who attend U.S. Islamic schools are being taught to preform Dawah before they wage Jihad, and that both are duties of all muslims.

From What Islam is All About:

“If anyone dies in a Jihad they automatically will go to paradise.”

“Don’t think that those who were killed in Allah’s Cause are dead. No, they are alive, finding their bounty in the presence of their Lord.”  Koran 3:169

 

What Islam is All About  explains “There is no such thing as terrorism in Islam. Nor can a Muslim ever be a fundamentalist because there is only one way to follow Islam.”

In Islam, “Terrorism” means killing a muslim without right, i.e. killing a muslim for a non-sharia prescribed reason.

On March 12, 2018, 17 year old Corey Johnson, of Jupiter, Florida, spent the night at a friend’s house he knew for over 10 years.  Yet, Corey killed another boy staying over by slitting his throat, and stabbed his friend’s mother and younger brother before being arrested.

Corey did what he did because, according to him, the Koran commands him to do such things.  Specifically, in this case, to kill those who mock Islam or muslims.

What Islam is All About  explains, the goal of Islam is to promote peace, justice and order in society. This means peace according to Sharia.

It goes on to say “The basis of the legal and political system is the Sharia of Allah” and “The duty of muslim citizens is to be loyal to the Islamic State.”

How is any of this contrary to the teachings of Al Qaeda, Hamas, ISIS, Boko Haram, Abu Sayef, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Shabaab or any other jihadi organization on the planet?

Is John Bolton the Man Who Will Dismantle the Islamic & Marxist Counter-States in America?

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – FEBRUARY 22: Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during CPAC 2018 February 22, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American Conservative Union hosted its annual Conservative Political Action Conference to discuss conservative agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, March 27, 2018:

How can an American citizen know Ambassador John Bolton, President Trump’s new National Security Advisor, is a good choice for the position?

Because the Marxists are losing their minds.

In fact, John Bolton brings to the table an understanding of a wide variety of threats with strategies to take the fight to the enemy.

UTT’s President John Guandolo interviewed colleagues Philip Haney and Trevor Loudon to weigh in on this issue while the three men spoke together at a panel discussion this past weekend at the Western Conservative Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.

The topic was the Islamic and Marxist Threats.

Former founding member of the Department of Homeland Security, author, Whistleblower and one of the most knowledgable men about the Islamic Movement in the United States, Philip Haney, had this to say about Mr. Bolton:

“I’ve always been a great admirer of Bolton, and I think it’s one of the best choices President Trump has made for his cabinet so far.  He has always stood up for our sovereignty, our Constitutional values, and defended us against great opposition.  He’s outspoken, or I should say, plain-spoken.  People know exactly what he thinks, and he doesn’t equivocate.  He just tells it like it is.  I admire that.  We need some more of that.”

“I think we would all agree Americans put a high value on honesty.  (Mr. Bolton) is always honest.  Foreign leaders know exactly where he stands.  I am very pleased…(with) the appointment of Bolton.”

Responding to the question, “If you could give Mr. Bolton one piece of advice, what would it be?” Mr. Haney replied:

“Focus on the Muslim Brotherhood and start with the domestic arena, but also its connection to the foreign in places like Egypt.  We need to look at the Muslim Brotherhood and get these front groups designated and shut down.  They’re connected to Hamas – that’s been proven.  It is not a theory.  We know it and they have been operating in our face for ten years.  Its time we put an end to that.”

[To get a copy of Philip Haney’s book See Something Say Nothing click here.]

One of America’s greatest resources for information on the Marxist penetration of our government and society is New Zealand native Trevor Loudon.  His movie The Enemies Within tells the tale of the devastating penetration of the American government by avowed Marxists as well as jihadists.

Here are Mr. Loudon’s comments about John Bolton’s new role as the President’s National Security Advisor:

“I’m very very pleased that this is the decision.  I think John Bolton is one of the most knowledgeable and hardcore American Patriots out there.  He understands national security like no one else.  He understands both the external threats and the internal threats, and has no illusions that America has enemies that need to be dealt very, very forcefully.  So I think he’s a perfect choice for President Trump at this time.  I think he will not only confront America’s external enemies, I think he’s a great force for draining the swamp.  I think he will be firing a bunch of people that need to be fired, and I don’t think he’ll take any prisoners.  So, I think that was an inspired choice by President Trump.”

In response to the question “Do you think Mr. Bolton has a good understanding of the Marxist threat in America?” Trevor responded:

“Yeah, I do.  I think he has more understanding than most.  He understands both the threats of countries like Russia and China, but he also understands very much the threat from Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood, and organizations like that.  I don’t think he has any illusions.  I think people in Tehran, Moscow and Beijing will be very, very concerned about this choice, and we should be happy about that.”

Responding to the question, “If you could give Mr. Bolton one piece of advice, what would it be?” Mr. Loudon replied:

“Drain the swamp. Get rid of the bad elements in the State Department and the national security apparatus, stop those leaks.  Deal with the internal enemies first…then you can confront the external enemies.”

Also see:

Hayward: Free Syrian Army, Once the Great ‘Moderate’ Hope, Joins Turkey to Attack Kurds

Huseyin Nasir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Feb. 6, 2018:

Turkey has conducted its “Operation Olive Branch” military incursion into Syria in concert with the Free Syrian Army, which has helped Turkish forces take control of several villages in the Afrin region.

This is an uncomfortable development for U.S. policymakers because both the Kurds and Free Syrian Army were considered battlefield allies of the United States in the war against the Islamic State, and the FSA was seen as the model white-hat rebel group when the Obama administration and intervention-minded Republicans were desperately seeing “moderate” forces in the Syrian rebellion to support.

In fact, as recently as last spring, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) strongly urged increased support for the Free Syrian Army as part of the U.S. strategy for stabilizing Syria while holding the regime of dictator Bashar Assad at bay.

McCain has long been prominent among those convinced the Free Syrian Army was America’s best bet for a terrorist-free moderate rebel group to arm and support, a step he felt the Obama administration was much too reluctant to take while Russia was busy shipping arms to the Syrian regime.

He made a surprise visit to the Turkey-Syria border in 2013 to meet with FSA leaders who wanted American heavy weapons, up to and including anti-aircraft weapons, and American air support against FSA adversaries such as Hezbollah. At the time, the FSA claimed to be running perilously low on munitions, which does not seem to be a problem now that they are fighting on Turkey’s behalf against the Kurds.

McCain has not responded well to contrary arguments about the FSA, as when he reportedly stormed out of the room during a 2014 presentation by Syrian Christians who said there were Islamist fighters among the FSA’s ranks.

There was a good deal of confusion surrounding support for the Free Syrian Army in the Obama administration, which occasionally seemed uncertain about what kind of support it was sending them. Critics complained effective support for moderate rebel groups was announced too late, after too much dithering, and was delivered too long after it was finally announced. The aid program that eventually materialized was an unserious disaster.

Whether reluctantly as with Obama, or eagerly as with McCain, plans for zero-footprint Syrian intervention kept circling back around to the Free Syrian Army, despite persistent warnings it contained some unlovely people and outright terrorists. One reason for this default support is that many of the other options for American support were Kurdish groups or members of Kurdish-dominated umbrella organizations, which was problematic because U.S. policymakers wanted to avoid conflict with the Turkish and Iraqi governments. Going all-in on the Kurds would inevitably bring accusations that America was supporting Kurdish nationalists, separatists, or terrorists (as Turkey would have it).

To this very day, Turkey denounces American support for the Kurds as direct support for terrorists, no different in principle from shipping arms to the Islamic State, which is something the Turks also charge America with doing when they are especially upset. It may come as some small consolation to know that everyone involved in the Syrian quagmire accuses everyone else of supporting terrorism, and they quite frequently have a point, since even the better rebel groups have been known to cooperate with powerful terrorist forces like al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front from time to time. It is difficult for outside powers to be certain that a weapon given to a white-hat moderate rebel today will not be handed over, voluntarily or involuntarily, to a terrorist or war criminal tomorrow.

In a 2013 profile of the Free Syrian Army, the BBC noted it was a “loose network of brigades rather than a unified fighting force,” with very little operational control exercised by appealing and high-minded spokesmen like Brigadier General Salim Idris.

Brigades aligned with the Free Syrian Army and its spinoff organizations retained “separate identities, agendas and commands.” The BBC noted that some of them “work with hardline Islamist groups that alarm the West, such as Ahrar al-Sham, and al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.”

Deutsche Welle recalls that, a few weeks ago, a delegation from the Free Syrian Army came to Washington and argued that if the CIA did not resume military aid frozen by the Trump administration, its “moderate” forces would have no choice but to look elsewhere for support. Virtually overnight, the FSA signed up with Turkey to work as mercenaries in its war against the Syrian Kurds, which DW notes is difficult to square with the FSA’s nominal mission of battling the tyranny of Bashar Assad on behalf of the Syrian people. It also argues against viewing the FSA as the kind of staunch moderate ally who can be entrusted with American weapons as they fight a noble battle to liberate Syria from cruel dictatorship.

“The Free Syrian Army practically doesn’t exist,” DW quotes Mideast expert Kamal Sido telling a German broadcaster. “The Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen hiding various names, and if you look at the names, at these groups’ videos, you’ll find they are radical Islamist, Jihadist groups.”

Charles Lister of the Brookings Institution contributed the observation that nearly 80 distinct factions now identify themselves with the FSA brand, and while some are moderate in outlook, others are hardline Islamist radicals. The group as a whole is moving inexorably into the orbit of radicals, and Islamist patrons like Turkey’s Erdogan, simply because they tend to be better-armed and more ruthlessly effective on the battlefield.

If such groups ever succeeded in overthrowing Assad, they would likely either replace him with an Islamist tyranny or turn their guns against their erstwhile moderate allies – which is essentially what the FSA is doing to the Syrian Kurds right now. At this point, with Russian and Iranian support firmly behind Assad, his ouster seems unlikely, so the “rebels” are largely fighting for concessions at the negotiating table and perhaps a degree of autonomy to run their own little fiefdoms within postwar Syria. Every proposal to arm Syrian groups must carefully consider what those groups actually intend to fight for.

It should also consider how they fight. Syrian Kurds are protesting the brutality of the Turkey-FSA invasion of Afrin, which threatens to push even further into Syria, as President Erdogan has openly called for American troops to get out of his way.

Over the weekend, video footage surfaced that appears to show Free Syrian Army fighters fondling and abusing the corpse of a female Kurdish fighter killed in the Afrin operation. One of them described the woman’s body as “the spoils of war from the female pigs of the PKK,” which is the violent Kurdish separatist organization in Turkey. The Turks insist that all Syrian Kurdish militia forces are allied with the PKK, including those directly supported by the United States.

The Free Syrian Army high command promised to investigate the incident and hold those involved accountable, “if it is verified in accordance with Sharia law and our principles.” The use of Islamic law to decide whether clearly heinous activity constitutes a war crime is not what the Western world should be looking for in a “moderate” ally.

Conversely, the Turks and their allies accuse the Kurds of fighting dirty and allying themselves with the brutal Assad regime, and Kurdish forces have been blamed for civilian deaths from a rocket barrage that struck a refugee camp near the Turkish border on Monday.

Syria is a bloody mess, and white hats are hard to find, but the hellish conundrum is that failure to intervene unleashed a refugee wave that threatens to drown Europe, not to mention a humanitarian disaster within Syria that should be utterly intolerable to the civilized world. The Free Syrian Army clearly is not the easy answer that so many people have so desperately wanted it to be for the past five years. They proved it by joining a Turkish operation that may soon put the lives of American troops at risk and threaten the future of NATO.

Also see:

Civilians in Northern Syria Flee to Caves as Turkish Invasion Barrels On

Russian-Turkish axis in Syria faces meltdown

Syrian Kurds: Russia Pressured Us to Give Afrin to Assad ‘One Day’ Before Turkish Attack

US Absolutely Slaughters ISIS Suicide Bombers Attacking Base In Iraq

Marines with 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, reload their 240B machine gun at a support by fire-position during a company-sized attack on Range 401 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., July 26. The battalion is currently conducting the Integrated Training Exercise in preperation of their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan later this year. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ali Azimi/released)

Daily Caller, by Saagar Ejeti, Sept. 18, 2017:

The U.S. military killed several Islamic State suicide bombers that attempted to breach a base in Iraq Sunday, Operation Inherent Resolve Spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon told the Associated Press.

U.S. forces shot and killed two of the ISIS fighters, while the other two blew themselves up prematurely after they realized they could no longer advance. The attack occurred near the city of Hawija where the U.S. backed Iraqi Security Forces are preparing to advance on one of the terrorist group’s last strongholds in the country.

Direct ISIS attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria are relatively rare, with airstrikes or allied fighters killing militants long before they can get close. The terrorist group will, however, likely adjust its tactics in the future as it loses significant territory in Iraq and Syria, trying more last ditch attacks on U.S. troops and committing flagrant acts of terror.

This tactic was on full display Thursday when the group dispatched a team of terrorists to kill nearly 80 Shiite pilgrims at a restaurant in southern Iraq. The attack was a well-planned, multi-prong suicide attack which involved guns and suicide bombs to first breach a checkpoint.

Follow Saagar Enjeti on Twitter