RAMADAN THREAT: ISIS demands more attacks on Europe in chilling threat made on secretive messaging app used by jihadis

The Sun, by Danny Collins, June  13, 2017:

ISIS has called for jihadis to carry out more attacks like the London and Manchester atrocities during Ramadan.

The sick message, released yesterday on secret messaging app Telegram, praised recent attacks, including one on the Iranian parliament last week.

ISIS had called for more attacks on the West like the London Bridge terror attack. Here, terrorist Khuram Butt takes his last breath after being shot by police

Dozens were injured and eight killed when a van mowed down pedestrians before three men jumped out and began stabbing revellers

It is believed to have been personally sent out by ISIS head of propaganda, Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer, the Mirror reports.

The audio statement said: “O lions of Mosul, Raqqa, and Tal Afar, God bless those pure arms and bright faces, charge against the rejectionists and the apostates and fight them with the strength of one man.

“To the brethren of faith and belief in Europe, America, Russia, Australia, and others.

“Your brothers in your land have done well so take them as role models and do as they have done.”

Would-be jihadists have used the secretive app to send messages to the group’s followers anonymously.

And its end-to-end encryption has left security services scrambling to find a means of tracking terror plots.

ISIS has already called for increased attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in its magazine Rumiyah.

Ramadan runs from 26 May to 24 June.

London Bridge attackers Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba

ISIS has used encrypted messenger service Telegram to send out the twisted threats

Eight were killed in the London Bridge terror attack as pedestrians were mown down by a speeding hire truck before dozens were stabbed.

Authorities believes knife-wielding terrorists Youssef Zaghba, Khuram Butt and Rachid Redouane could have been brainwashed by hate preachers on YouTube

An attack on the Iranian parliament in Tehran last week saw 17 people killed in the first major attack on the country since 2010.

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ISIS vowed that the Manchester attack is a harbinger of what’s to come as Islamic State territory falls in Iraq and Syria and the terror group continues to “shift its focus towards carrying out attacks on Crusader soil.”

The terror group didn’t publish any new attack tactic tips in today’s new issue of their Rumiyah magazine, but teased to a special forthcoming publication about how their followers should observe the last 10 days of Ramadan, which ends the evening of June 24.

At remote desert garrison in Syria, a US-Iran confrontation is brewing

The Tanf garrison used by the US coalition to train militias to fight ISIS sits on a highway Iran would like to control for its strategic advantage. Forces are gathering and shots have been fired as fundamental interests clash.

CS Monitor, by Nicholas Blanford

JUNE 6, 2017 US-backed forces announced Tuesday that they had begun the long-awaited assault on the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqa, the so-called Islamic State’s main stronghold in the country and its self-declared capital.

But some 170 miles to the south, in a remote corner of Syria’s southeastern desert, another clash is brewing that is pitting the strategic objectives of the United States against those of Iran, and that could soon bring US troops and Iranian-backed forces into direct military confrontation.

Both US and Russian warplanes have been deployed, and some shots have already been fired, including by US-backed coalition forces on Tuesday, the US military said.

The clash is over a military garrison at Tanf, located near a border crossing on a highway that cuts through hundreds of miles of flat desert. It was captured from jihadist forces more than a year ago and is being used by US Special Forces and allies to train Syrian militias to fight ISIS, which controls territory to the northeast.

But if Tanf’s main value to the US so far has been in the war on ISIS, it has also, perhaps unwittingly, become a front-line outpost in the US containment of regional power Iran, whose allies are advancing on the garrison from two directions.

Their interest in the highway is that it links Baghdad and Damascus and serves as a coveted overland route that could provide Iran with access to its strategic Lebanese Shiite ally, Hezbollah.

At a junction on the highway, 50 miles northwest of the garrison in the direction of Damascus, a combined force of Syrian troops, Hezbollah fighters, and Iraqi Shiite militiamen are mobilizing for a southward thrust to seize the Tanf border crossing.

On the Iraqi side of the border, southeast of Tanf, the Hashd ash-Shaabi, an Iran-supported Iraqi Shiite militia sanctioned by Baghdad, is reportedly deploying in readiness to drive ISIS out of Iraqi territory between Tanf and Al-Qaim, another border town 136 miles to the northeast.

And wedged between these two Iranian-backed forces are the US, British, Norwegian, and possibly Jordanian special forces, as well as the Syrian militia groups they have helped to train.

Shots fired

With both sides girding for a fight, the coming days or weeks could see US and allied troops coming into conflict with Iranian-backed forces for the first time in Syria’s six-year civil war.

“I think any assault on Tanf [by Iranian-backed groups] would meet with a vigorous and effective military response,” says Frederic C. Hof, director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council in Washington and previously a State Department liaison with Syrian opposition forces. “I do not know the rules of engagement in effect for US ground forces, but an Iranian-Hezbollah assault on Tanf would, I think, be quite reckless and not likely to succeed.”

The two sides have already come to blows twice. On May 18, US aircraft attacked a convoy of Shiite militiamen speeding southeast along the highway in breach of a deconfliction zone of some 20 miles around Tanf. Several vehicles were destroyed in the air strike and six militants were killed.

And Tuesday, according to an official statement from the US-led coalition, a pro-regime force again entered the deconfliction zone and was fired upon. Two artillery pieces and an antiaircraft weapon were destroyed, the statement said, and a tank damaged. There was no word on casualties among the 60 fighters reported in the pro-regime force.

Clash is coming

In light of the militia build-up north of Tanf, a spokesman for the Baghdad-based anti-ISIS coalition said last week that “we have increased our presence and footprint” in southern Syria, adding that the mobilization of Iranian-backed militia forces near Tanf was viewed as a “threat.” US aircraft have also dropped leaflets on the militia forces, warning them to stay away from Tanf.

But the Iranian-backed forces and the Syrian army appear determined to seize the Tanf border crossing, even if it risks a confrontation with US forces.

“Our people are gathering in the Tanf area right now, so a clash is definitely coming,” says a Hezbollah unit commander speaking on condition of anonymity in Beirut.

Iran has a strategic interest in gaining control over the crossing as it represents the last remaining link in securing an east-to-west land corridor reaching from Iran to Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast via Iraq and Syria. Guarded by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, the transport link would allow Tehran to ferry fighters to Syrian battlefronts and armaments to its Hezbollah ally in Lebanon.

But the US-led coalition against ISIS appears equally determined to defend its presence in this remote spot to maintain its ability to continue its unconventional warfare campaign against ISIS-held territory to the northeast.

At least three Syrian armed groups are operating alongside the Americans and British at Tanf as part of the “train and equip” program to defeat ISIS: the Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (Revolutionary Commandos Army), the Ahmad Abdo Martyrs Group, and Jaysh Osoud al-Sharqiya (Lions of the East Army).

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Analysis: The Islamic State’s first major terrorist attacks inside Iran

LONG WAR JOURNAL, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN, June 7, 2017:

Note: A version of this article was first published by The Daily Beast.

A team of terrorists struck the Iranian Parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini earlier today. At least 12 people were killed, according to Iran’s state media. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps blamed Saudi Arabia, further escalating tensions in the region. The Islamic State (ISIS) quickly claimed responsibility for the assault via its Amaq News Agency, which released statements and a short video from one of the attacks as it was still ongoing. Amaq says that two suicide bombers detonated their explosive vests at Khomeini’s mausoleum, while inghimasis (well-trained fighters who “immerse” themselves in battle) raided the parliament.

The attack is a significant development, to grossly understate the matter. Tehran had long avoided being hit by the types of “martyrdom” operations that routinely rock the neighboring capitals of Baghdad and Kabul.

This is no accident. The Iranian government’s security services are ruthlessly effective at suppressing all forms of opposition, including both legitimate protesters and those with ill-intentions.

More important, perhaps, is the fact that the Iranian regime cut a secret deal with al Qaeda.

Osama Bin Laden’s organization and its spin-off, the so-called Islamic State, have fought against Iran’s proxies in Iraq and Syria for years. Killing Shiites is a blood sport for ISIS’s Sunni jihadists. And Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate reportedly has attempted to strike inside the mullahs’ country before. The group routinely agitates against the Iranians in its videos and propaganda statements. Yet, it wasn’t until now that ISIS successfully attacked the heart of Tehran.

Al Qaeda’s leadership long sought to rein in the anti-Shiite violence in Iraq. Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy and successor of emir of al Qaeda, even tried to persuade Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, to stop targeting Shiite civilians. Zarqawi hoped to provoke a full scale, sectarian civil war in Iraq. When his men blew up the revered Golden Mosque in Samarra in 2006 they very nearly accomplished that goal. Despite the U.S. “surge” that averted complete disaster in the years that followed, sectarian violence has plagued Iraq ever since.

Zarqawi was killed in June 2006—less than a year after Zawahiri tried to convince him to stop targeting Shiite civilians. Zarqawi’s heirs continued his sectarian strategy inside Iraq. But until 2014, they abided by an order from al Qaeda’s leaders to avoid terrorist operations inside Iranian territory and against Shiites outside of Iraq. The two sides formally split in early 2014. At that point, the organization calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS) gained strength, waging a campaign against Shiites throughout the region—and accusing al Qaeda of being soft on them.

In May 2014, ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani, delivered a stinging rebuke of al Qaeda leaders that exposed their cozy relations with Tehran.

“Let history record that Iran owes al Qaeda invaluably,” Adnani bristled, saying he and his men had “complied with your [al Qaeda’s] request not to target [the Shiites] outside Iraq, in Iran and elsewhere.” Adnani, who was killed in an American airstrike last year, explained that ISIS was “acting upon the orders of al Qaeda to safeguard its interests and supply lines in Iran.”

After al Qaeda’s general command disowned ISIS in February 2014, Baghdadi and Adnani no longer considered themselves bound by al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s edicts. ISIS began launching indiscriminate attacks against Shiite Muslims far outside of Iraq, and it started eyeing operations inside Iran as well.

To this day, however, al Qaeda avoids attacks inside Iran—at least those that can be directly attributed to the organization. (It is possible that al Qaeda supports other regional groups that occasionally target Iranian security forces on their home turf.)

Files recovered during the May 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan explain this reticence. One of the documents corroborates Adnani’s testimony regarding al Qaeda’s orders.

In October 2007, bin Laden wrote a letter to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the immediate predecessor to Baghdadi’s ISIS. The missive was likely addressed to Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (a.k.a. Abu Ayyub al Masri), who led the ISI at the time. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took charge of this same group in 2010, after Abu Hamza was killed.

Bin Laden disapproved of the ISI’s threats against Iran. “I have a few remarks concerning the matter of your threats to Iran, and I hope that you and your brothers will accommodate it,” bin Laden wrote. The al Qaeda founder continued (emphasis added): “You did not consult with us on that serious issue that affects the general welfare of all of us. We expected you would consult with us for these important matters, for as you are aware, Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel, and communication, as well as the matter of hostages.”

Bin Laden was not against targeting Iran in principle. He simply thought the cost was too high and the benefits al Qaeda received from the relationship were significant.

The “main artery” bin Laden referenced was later targeted in a series of terrorist designations, reward offers and other official statements by the U.S. Treasury and State Departments.

In July 2011, Treasury first identified the al Qaeda leaders, including one known as Yasin al-Suri, who ran the facilitation network inside Iran at the time. Treasury explained that they operated under a formerly “secret deal” between the terror organization and the Iranian government. The Obama administration also referred to the Iranian hub as al Qaeda’s “core facilitation pipeline,” which allowed the jihadist organization to shuttle personnel and funds throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Al Qaeda operatives involved in plots targeting the West have moved through Iran as well.

The leadership of the network has evolved over time for several reasons. In December 2011, for instance, the State Department offered a $10 million reward for Suri, making him one of the most wanted terrorists on the planet. Al Qaeda was forced to reshuffle its deck and place another veteran in charge, but Suri eventually assumed command once again.

In the years that followed, several prominent al Qaeda figures in Iran went on to hold key positions elsewhere, including inside Syria. Indeed, designated terrorists such as Muhsin al-Fadhli and Sanafi al-Nasr, both of whom led the network in Iran for a time, became key players in the so-called “Khorasan Group.”

In 2014, the Obama administration ordered airstrikes targeting the “Khorasan Group,” saying that members of this al Qaeda wing were planning attacks in the West. Both Fadhli and Nasr were killed in American bombings in Syria.

The deal between al Qaeda and the Iranians has survived the wars in Syria and Yemen, despite the fact that they are on opposite sides in those bloody conflicts. It is one of the great curiosities in the jihadist world. There is no question that al Qaeda and Iran’s proxies are at each other’s throats in those countries. Al Qaeda has even kidnapped Iranian diplomats to force exchanges for senior jihadists and family members who were held in some form of custody inside Iran.

Still, even though the two sides frequently clash, their collusion is ongoing. In July 2016, for example, Treasury revealed that Abu Hamza al-Khalidi, al Qaeda’s “Military Commission Chief”—one of the most senior positions in the group—is located in Iran alongside some of his comrades. Another file recovered in bin Laden’s lair refers to Khalidi as part of a “new generation” of leaders groomed to replace their fallen comrades.

As Adnani’s May 2014 message demonstrated, ISIS has been keen to highlight al Qaeda’s unwillingness to strike Iran. The two Sunni jihadist groups remain at odds and ISIS wants to undermine al Qaeda’s legitimacy among Sunni fanatics who may not understand why bin Laden’s heirs would refrain from directly attacking Iran. Other files recovered in Abbottabad show that bin Laden devised plans to undermine Iran’s regional position. But this doesn’t go far enough for some.

According to Treasury, the predecessor to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s ISIS had its own relationship with Iranian intelligence during the height of America’s involvement in the Iraq War. But ISIS doesn’t remind its audience of this inconvenient fact. Instead, ISIS criticizes al Qaeda for its willingness to compromise with the Iranians.

In 2016, for example, ISIS’s Naba magazine carried a series of interviews with an al Qaeda defector known as Abu Ubaydah Al Lubnani, who claimed that “Iranian intelligence” was in complete control of al Qaeda’s safe houses inside the country. Interestingly enough, Lubnani himself transited through Iran to the lands of the self-declared caliphate after leaving al Qaeda’s ranks. But the purpose of Lubnani’s interviews was to indict ISIS’s rivals as being soft on the Iranians.

Other propaganda disseminated by ISIS has similarly sought to portray the group as the vanguard of Sunni opposition to Iranian-backed forces throughout the region.

There is no question that after today’s attacks inside Tehran, ISIS will ramp up its messaging along these lines. ISIS can finally claim to have brought the Sunni jihadists’ war to Iran, something al Qaeda has been unwilling to do.

[For a timeline of U.S. government designations and other statements concerning Iran’s agreement with al Qaeda, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: Treasury designates 3 senior al Qaeda members in Iran.]

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

Anti-Islamic State coalition begins Raqqah offensive

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) General Command announces the beginning of the battle for Raqqa on June 6, 2017. (SDF photo)

Long War Journal, by Bill Roggio, June 6, 2017:

A coalition of anti-Islamic State groups backed by the United States has officially begun its assault on the jihadist-held city of Raqqah in northern Syria. Raqqah has been controlled by jihadist forces since 2013 and has become the de facto capital of the Islamic State inside Syria.

The US Department of Defense announced the commencement of the operation to liberate Raqqah in a news article on its website.

“The offensive would deliver a decisive blow to the idea of ISIS as a physical caliphate,” according to the DoD.

The push to take Raqqah is led by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is largely comprised of the Kurdish YPG (or People’s Defense Units). The YPG is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has been designated as a terrorist organization by the US government for terrorist attacks throughout Turkey. The Turkish government has opposed US support for the YPG.

The US military attempts to mitigate Turkish anger over the support of the YPG by emphasizing the “Syrian Arab Coalition’s” role in the offensive. However, there is no official group known as the Syrian Arab Coalition, it is merely the Arab component of the SDF.

The US military noted that it is “providing equipment, training, intelligence and logistics support, precision fires and battlefield advice” to the SDF for its Raqqah offensive. To emphaisize this point, the US military, in a separate press release that tallied air operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria noted that “24 strikes engaged 18 ISIS tactical units; destroyed 19 boats, 12 fighting positions, eight vehicles, a house bomb and a weapons storage facility; and suppressed an ISIS tactical unit” in and around Raqqah yesterday.

The SDF and the US have shaped the battlefield in northern Syria for months in preparation to advance on Raqqah. But the final push on Raqqah could not be launched until the SDF secured the town of Tabqa and its dam, which are located about 20 miles west. The SDF seized Tabqa on May 11 after six weeks of fighting.

The SDF now controls the terrain north of the Euphrates river from Tabqa all the way to the town of Madan, which is due east of Raqqah. Madan is south of the Euphrates, remains under control of the Islamic State. Raqqah is situated north of the Euphrates, so the SDF does not need to cross the river to take the city.

The fight for Raqqah takes place as Iraqi forces are making their final push to root out the Islamic State in Mosul. The Mosul offensive began six months ago, however, the Islamic State still controls pockets within the city.

While the US military insists that the loss of Raqqah and Mosul will deal a “a decisive blow” to the Islamic State, the group still controls a significant amount of terrain in both Syria and Iraq. The Islamic State still occupies a large area in central and southern Syria, and continues to besiege Syrian military forces in the city of Deir al Zour. The Islamic State controls all of the Euphrates River Valley south of Madan down to the Iraq towns of Rawa and Anah.

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

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IRAN ATTACK: ISIS claims responsibility for pair of assaults in Tehran

Fox News, June 7, 2017:

ISIS claimed responsibility for a pair of Wednesday attacks in Tehran in which suicide bombers and teams of gunmen stormed Iran’s parliament and the nearby shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, killing at least 12 and injuring dozens of others.

This is the first attack orchestrated by ISIS in the Islamic Republic, SITE Intel Group reported. It wasn’t initially clear if the death count, reported by state broadcaster IRIB, included the attackers.

In a rare and stunning move, ISIS released video from inside the parliament building while the attack was under way.  The video, circulated online, shows a gunman and a bloody, lifeless body of a man lying on the ground next to a desk. A voice on the video praises God and says in Arabic: “Do you think we will leave? We will remain, God willing.” Another voice repeats the same words. The two appeared to be parroting a slogan used by IS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who was killed in Syria last year.

The parliament assault ended Wednesday morning with all four attackers there being killed.

One of the terrorists blew himself up inside the parliament building, where a session had been in progress, according to a statement carried by Iran state TV. It quoted lawmaker Elias Hazrati as saying the attackers were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles.

An Associated Press reporter saw several police snipers on the rooftops of buildings around parliament. Shops in the area were shuttered, and gunfire could be heard. Witnesses said the attackers were shooting from the fourth floor of the parliament building down at people in the streets below.

“I was passing by one of the streets. I thought that children were playing with fireworks, but I realized people are hiding and lying down on the streets,” Ebrahim Ghanimi, who was around the parliament building when the assailants stormed in, told The Associated Press. “With the help of a taxi driver, I reached a nearby alley.”

Police helicopters circled over the parliament building and all mobile phone lines from inside were disconnected. The semi-official ISNA news agency said all entrance and exit gates at parliament were closed and that lawmakers and reporters were ordered to remain in place inside the chamber.

State TV reported four attackers were involved in the parliament attack.

Iran’s official state broadcaster said a security guard was killed and four people wounded in the shrine attack. It said one of the attackers at the shrine was killed by security guards and that a woman was arrested. It described the shrine attackers as “terrorists” and said one carried out a suicide bombing, without providing further details.

In addition to being lethal, the attack on the shrine of Khomeini is symbolically stunning. As Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Khomeini is a towering figure in the country and was its revolutionary leader in the 1979 ouster of the shah.

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Ramadan Red Pill

The Rebel, by Faith Goldy, June 6, 2017:

In the first ten days of Ramadan, Islamic terrorists killed shy of 600 innocents, in 55 attacks, across 17 countries.

We’ve tried things the diversity-is-our-strength-open-borders-cultural-enrichment way. In order to reverse the European Caliphate, the region is going to have to change its approach– radically

What Europe needs in order to solve it’s jihad problem is a multi-pronged plan that’s both preventative and adaptive (for the Muslim populations already within their borders).

I propose the following 5 actions:

1. A Trump-style travel ban in the skies;
2. NATO troops along the Mediterranean to turn away migrant boats;
3. Intern every migrant who is on a terror watch-list;
4. Close Europe’s sharia courts and radical mosques; and
5. Heavily regulate or close European madrasas.

Islam is a religion of submission through force– it’s a language Muslim migrants understand. And the state is the only body in a position to legitimately and surgically execute such plans.

Because, God knows, if the politicians and military don’t take matters into their hands– the people will.

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And Now Jihad in Australia…

 

Jihadist Yacqub Khayre, KIA by Australian police

Terror Trends  Bulletin, by Christopher  Holton, June 5, 2017:

We can now add Melbourne, Australia to the long list of Western cities victimized by jihad during the Muslim “holy” month of Ramadan.

Late yesterday afternoon, Yacqub Khayre, 29, an Australian citizen of Somali descent–who came to Australia as a child refugee at the age of 4–killed one innocent victim and took another hostage before being killed by police in a shootout and siege that lasted some 2 hours.

Khayre killed a Chinese-Australian man in the lobby of an apartment building in the affluent  Brighton area of Melbourne. He then took a woman hostage in the building. Within two hours he was shot dead by police after opening fire on them.

Initial reports of the incident indicated that it was not “terrorist-related,” however those reports turned out to be inaccurate.

It turns out that Khayre called a local television station during the stand-off stating, “This is for the Islamic State, this is for Al-Qaeda.”

Subsequently, the Islamic State media arm, Amaq, claimed credit for the attack, stating,””The executor of the Melbourne attack in Australia is a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried out the attack in response to appeals to target citizens of coalition states.”

Once again, it turns out that Yacqub Khayre was known to authorities, had a long history of violence, had previously been charged with a terror offense but acquitted and was known to have connections in the past, with “violent extremists,” (which is of course a misnomer for Jihadists)

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