Islamic State destroys mosque where Baghdadi delivered first speech as ‘caliph’

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi delivering his first speech as “Caliph Ibrahim” at the Al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul in July 2014.

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, June 21, 2017:

The Iraqi government announced today that the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri in Mosul has been destroyed. US Central Command (CENTCOM) subsequently released a statement accusing the Islamic State of demolishing the holy site.

The demolition of Al-Nuri is a milestone in the war against Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s so-called caliphate. Baghdadi delivered his first sermon as “Caliph Ibrahim” from the pulpit at Al-Nuri on July 4, 2014. Just days earlier, Baghdadi’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, had declared that the group ruled over a caliphate stretching throughout large parts of Iraq and Syria.

“As our Iraqi Security Force partners closed in on the Al-Nuri mosque, ISIS destroyed one of Mosul and Iraq’s great treasures,” Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin, Commanding General of Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a statement. “This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization must be annihilated.”

“The responsibility of this devastation is laid firmly at the doorstep of ISIS,” Martin said, “and we continue to support our Iraqi partners as they bring these terrorists to justice.” Martin warned that the “battle for the liberation of Mosul is not yet complete, and we remain focused on supporting the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] with that objective in mind.”

Via its Amaq News Agency, the Islamic State tried to blame coalition airstrikes for the mosque’s destruction. The statement, seen below, was released online earlier today.

However, there is no evidence indicating that the US-led coalition bombed the mosque, which was built centuries ago. Its iconic minaret, nicknamed “the hunchback,” famously leaned to one side.

Iraqi government sources have circulated images from the moments after the Islamic State detonated its explosives in the mosque.

Baghdadi’s speech at Al-Nuri was a seminal moment in the history of his group. He used the pulpit to call on Muslims around the world to join the new state.

“So let the world know that we are living today in a new era,” Baghdadi said. “Therefore, rush O Muslims to your state,” he argued later in the speech. “Yes, it is your state. Rush, because Syria is not for the Syrians, and Iraq is not for the Iraqis.”

“The State is a state for all Muslims,” Baghdadi continued. “The land is for the Muslims, all the Muslims. O Muslims everywhere, whoever is capable of performing hijrah [emigration] to the Islamic State, then let him do so, because hijrah to the land of Islam is obligatory.”

The Islamic State leader made a “special” plea for assistance from scholars, judges, doctors, engineers, military personnel, as well as those with “administrative and service expertise” and “all different specializations.” He wanted all of these types of skilled individuals to emigrate to the lands of his caliphate.

During his sermon at Al-Nuri, Baghdadi also emphasized his organization’s uncompromising jihad against everyone else. He argued that the world “has been divided into two camps and two trenches…[t]he camp of Islam and faith, and the camp of kufr (disbelief) and hypocrisy.” The former is supposedly “the camp of the Muslims and the mujahidin everywhere,” while the latter is “the camp of the Jews, the Crusaders, their allies, and with them the rest of the nations and religions of kufr, all being led by America and Russia, and being mobilized by the Jews.”

The Islamic State’s early motto was “remaining and expanding.” It was intended to convey a sense of indefinite territorial expansion and permanence. But the group’s propagandists quietly began to de-emphasize this idea as the jihadists lost ground in Iraq and Syria.

The demolition of Al-Nuri underscores the fact that Baghdadi’s loyalists are not holding their turf. Instead, they have proven their willingness to burn to the ground even holy sites rather than let their enemies capture them intact.

The destruction of Al-Nuri prevents the Iraqi government from issuing its own statement from the mosque. Baghdadi’s foes could have broadcast his caliphate’s loss of the important site. While no such message can now be made from Al-Nuri, the Islamic State’s violation of the mosque presents the coalition with another opportunity, as it can highlight the jihadists’ lack of respect for a holy location they themselves once portrayed as being at the center of a history-changing event.

Al Qaeda and its allies have chosen not to pursue the Islamic State’s all or nothing approach to holding territory. For example, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) avoided a fight for Mukallah in southern Yemen last year, arguing that a battle with Arab-led forces would leave the port city in shambles.

A coalition led by Al Nusrah Front, which was openly part of al Qaeda at the time, also overran the Syrian province of Idlib in early 2015. The jihadists and Islamists have held Idlib for more than two years since, often debating how to make sure they don’t lose it. They are trying to avoid the mistakes made by Baghdadi’s men, who are in the process of losing their two capitals in Iraq and Syria. While an international coalition was assembled to dislodge the Islamic State, no such force has been formed to uproot the jihadists deeply embedded in Idlib and elsewhere in Syria. The jihadists in northwestern Syria have sought to sow confusion when it comes to their own proto-Taliban state.

Baghdadi took the opposite course, calling on the whole world to recognize his Islamic State.

“O Muslims everywhere, glad tidings to you and expect good,” Baghdadi said during his sermon at Al-Nuri in July 2014. “Raise your head high, for today – by Allah’s grace – you have a state and Khilafah, which will return your dignity, might, rights, and leadership.”

Nearly three years later, Baghdadi’s followers leveled Al-Nuri to the ground.

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

‘Wake Up to War’: Islamic State Supporters Urge Revenge Attacks After Finsbury Park

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AFP

Breitbart, by Liam Deacon, June 20, 2017:

Supporters of Islamic State are calling for Muslims to rise up and conduct revenge attacks on Christians and Jews after a white-British man targeted Muslims in the Finsbury Park terror attack.

A channel on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, called ‘War News – Ummah News’, known for supporting Islamic State, said a “war” was starting in the West.

The messages, reported by terrorism analyst Michael Smith, read: “Oh Muslimeen when your brothers took revenge on the crusader nationals for the slaughter they are carrying out on the Muslims, they were shot on site by the British Police.

“Then how come the Police never shot a Kaafir [non-Muslim/infidel]. Oh Muslims you need to wake up the war is starting now in your own streets outside your own Masajids.

“Your elders could be killed, your sisters could be attacked. Oh Muslims, the Prophet said Jews and Christians will always hate you.”

The messages may imply a difference in treatment of terror suspects depending on their religion after the man believed to be behind the Finsbury Park attack was not shot dead by police. The London Bridge killers in contrast — who were armed and wore fake suicide belts — were shot by specialist police teams.

Monday night, the Finsbury Park attacker was identified as Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old white father of four who was living in South Wales. According to associates and neighbours, he was an aggressive man who had demonstrated disdain for Muslims.

Terror experts said the rare, almost unique, terror attack by a non-Muslim targeting Muslims could do more to anger and inspire radical Islamist terrorists than previous attacks.

Peter Neumann, a professor at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, told The Times:

“In one of the last issues of their online magazine, [Islamic State] spoke of ‘eliminating the grey zone’, which means total polarisation of society, with Muslims seeing Isis as their defenders, and the rest of society looking at all Muslims as Isis supporters.

“In many ways, setting off this kind of vicious circle – provoking an overreaction, and triggering cycles of violence that lead to polarisation – is what terrorism is all about.”

Islamic State supporters were quick to celebrate the London Bridge terror attacks, and the group’s official magazine has urged jihadists and sympathisers to wage an “all-out war” in the West during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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The London Mosque Attack: How Politicians and the Media Are Killing Muslims, Answering Muslims, by David Wood, June 20, 2017:

Early in the morning of June 19, 2017, a 47-year-old man named Darren Osborne plowed a rental van into Muslims who were leaving a mosque after their evening Ramadan prayers. Police are treating the incident as an anti-Muslim terrorist attack. In this video, I explain how such attacks can be prevented.

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Author of ‘The Strange Death of Europe’ Douglas Murray offers insight

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Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Recommends ‘Cheaper, Lighter’ Afghanistan Approach

AFP

Breitbart, by Kristina Wong, June 12, 2017:

Blackwater founder and former Navy SEAL Erik Prince is recommending, as the Trump administration debates its Afghanistan War approach, that the U.S. military go back to its light footprint approach in Afghanistan.

Prince told the “Breitbart News Sunday” radio program that the approach – which would see CIA, special operators, and contractors working with Afghan forces to target terrorists – would be more effective and save the U.S. billions of dollars annually.

“I say go back to the model that worked, for a couple hundred years in the region, by the East India company, which used professional Western soldiers who were contracted and lived with trained with and when necessary fought with their local counterparts,” he said.

Prince said the most effective time the U.S. had in Afghanistan against terrorism was the first 12 months after the September 2001 attack, where CIA, special operators, and contractors worked with local Afghan forces with air support.

“That really put the Taliban and al Qaeda on the back heels,” he said. “The more we’ve gone into a conventional approach in Afghanistan, the more we are losing.”

Prince, who has advised the Trump campaign, argued that the light footprint approach was more effective.

“[It] literally puts them side by side, living in the same base. Believe me – if you’re a trainer, and your life depends on the success of the unit, you are going to make sure the men are paid, fed, equipped,” he said.

Prince also argued that the light footprint approach would also be “much cheaper, more sustainable” – about 10 percent of the current costs.

“We’re spending, this year as a country, $45 billion there… That’s a staggering amount of money, and this is a time when [the Department of Defense] needs more money to reset equip and airplanes and boats and tanks and everything else,” he said.

Prince argued that today’s approach is not working.

There are currently about 8,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan conducting a train-and-advise mission as well as a counterterrorism mission. After former President Obama declared the combat mission over in December 2014, the Taliban have made a comeback, and now control about a third of the country.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has also established a nascent presence on the ground there.

“The way the U.S. Army does it now, is the Americans live on one base, the Afghans live on another base, they act have to fly over to the other base, maybe see them once or twice a week, they don’t really go on missions with them anymore and it really lives the indigenous units hanging,” he said.

“So they go out on patrol, they can’t get the fires support, they can’t get resupply, they can’t [be medically evacuated], they miss the basic soldiering that would let them be successful,” he said.

He said many of the 300,000-plus Afghan forces supported by the U.S. are “ghosts” – with corrupt officials pocketing the money instead. Plus, he said supporting that many forces is beyond Afghanistan’s capability.

The approach Prince recommended tracks with one that some of Trump’s advisers are advocating for – a focus on the counterterrorism mission versus nation building, with special operators training Afghan forces.

Another approach under consideration, backed by National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, is surging an additional 3,000 U.S. troops, and hitting the Taliban harder to force it back to the negotiating table.

Prince also recommended putting a U.S. leader in charge of Afghanistan that would extend past the limited tours that U.S. military commanders normally have there, and relaxing rules of engagement.

“We’ve had 17 different commanders in a 15-year period. No great football team or sports teams changes its coaches every year, yet we’ve done that more than every year and with predictable results,” he said.

He also recommended pushing Afghans to sustain is own economy, including passing a mining law necessary to take advantage of the $1 trillion in minerals the country is estimated to have.

Prince said that, currently, Afghanistan’s economy is 90 percent dependent on donor aid, and its security budget totally dependent on the U.S.

“There is gold, copper and iron ore, and a bunch of rare earth elements, lithium — all very high value stuff and oil and gas as well,” he said. “But all the experts at the State Department have yet to get the Afghans to pass a mining law.”

Meanwhile, he said the Taliban is raking in money from opium, hashish, gold, lapis, marble, and pistachios.

“The Taliban has dominated each of those spaces, each of those parts of the economy and that’s what they use to fund their entire insurgency and that’s why they’re able to pay well, and to grow and to flourish, and it’s really, really frustrating.”

The U.S. first invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, after the Taliban allowed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to plan the September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York that killed 2,996 people and wounded more than 6,000 others.

The CIA and special operators led the successful invasion, toppling the Taliban from power and establishing a presence there from which to go after al Qaeda. Many fled into Pakistan, including bin Laden, who was later killed there in 2011.

But since then, the U.S. and NATO countries have had a presence of more than a hundred thousand troops there. Former President Barack Obama in 2009 ordered a troop surge of around 30,000 into the country, simultaneously announcing they would begin to withdraw in 18 months – a timeline that angered U.S. military commanders who felt it was a signal to the Taliban to wait coalition forces out.

After U.S. troops began withdrawing and Obama declared the end of the U.S. combat mission in 2014, the Taliban has made a comeback and now control at least a third of the territory and about as much of the population.

Today, Prince said, there are about 20 different terrorist groups there.

“The Taliban continues to be aligned 100 percent to al Qaeda and its where number terrorist attacks — the most notable one being the 9/11 attacks, emanated from Afghanistan,” he said.

“We have to accept that Afghanistan is a very rough place. It’s resident to 20 different terrorist org and there’s a lot of bad things that emanate from there so getting to a manageable state.”

Prince noted that the Taliban has retaken Sangin, a district in southern Afghanistan that U.S. troops fought hard to pacify, and recently held a victory parade out in the open.

“They had a victory parade in broad daylight with hundreds of Taliban and dozens of vehicles. They did it in broad daylight an they were unafraid of someone attacking them,” he said. “The terrorists have to fear waking up the next morning.”

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.

Also see:

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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Also see:

London Attacker Known to Police, Allegedly Appeared on TV Jihad Show, Linked to Anjem Choudary

Channel 4

Breitbart, by Liam Deacon, June 5, 2017:

One of the London Bridge attackers was allegedly a well-known Islamist, who appeared on Britain’s Channel 4 TV station, was reported to police, and can be linked to the network around notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary.

According to numerous reports, the suspected London Bridge terrorist appeared in a Channel 4 documentary last year, which also featured the “new Jihadi John” alleged Islamic State executioner Abu Rumaysah, hate preacher Mohammed Shamsuddin (also know as Abu Saalihah), and infamous social media radical Abu Haleema.

Twelve people, including four women in niqabs and men in Islamic robes, were arrested in Barking yesterday after raids at a flat believed to be the home of one of the attackers. A 55-year-old man has been released without charge.

Suspected terrorist “Abz” unfurls the black flag of Islamic State during the 2016 Channel 4 film on UK radicals (Credit: Channel 4)

The 27-year-old suspected terrorist is known as “Abz” in the film. According to The Times, one of the suspects was born in Pakistan, grew up in Britain, and has been named by relatives as one of three men who rampaged through the capital this Saturday.

He is thought to be the attacker who wore an Arsenal shirt and was later pictured dying on the street with a fake suicide belt strapped to him.

According to an associate, interview anonymously on the BBC’s Asian Network, he was reported to the anti-terror hotline numerous times. It was also claimed that, two years earlier, police were warned that the suspect was trying to radicalise children in a local park.

Police have asked the press not to fully identify the terrorists at this stage, but say they know who they are and will release their names “as soon as operationally possible”.

One of the attackers, wearing an Arsenal football shirt and fake suicide vest, lying in the street after being shot by police (Credit: Instagram/fried_chicken)

Anjem Choudary (centre) pictured alongside Abu Haleema (far right) protesting for the release of hate preacher Omar Bakri Muhammad on the 27th of February 2015 (Credit: Rachel Megawhat / Breitbart London)

Mohammed Shamsuddin, who “Abz” is filmed alongside in the Channel 4 documentary, was an associate of notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary, who founded the now-banned terror group al-Muhajiroun.

Mr. Choudary has been linked to numerous murderous terrorists, including Michael Adebolajo, one of the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, and the 7/7 London bombers, and was convicted last year of supporting Islamic State.

Abu Haleema and suspected Islamic State executioner Abu Rumaysah were also associates of Mr. Choudary, and both appear in the same film “Abz”.

In the Channel 4 program, the suspected London attacker is shown in a scene when the group of radicals, led by Mohammed Shamsuddin, pray in a central London park and unfurl a black flag which is identified as that of the Islamic State.

Suspected London Bridge attacker ‘Abz’ (third from left) prays in Central London behind an Islamic State flag led by hate preacher Mohammed Shamsuddin (Credit: Channel 4)

The group mock the police when they are questioned and tread a delicate line throughout the film, appearing to praise Islamic State, a banned group, but not openly backing them.

Islamic State has now claimed the London Bridge attack.

At one point near the Channel 4 film, Mohammed Shamsuddin laughs and smiles as he watches Islamic State execution videos. “The guy’s foaming at the mouth, wow!” he says. “And I’m eating, hahahaha.”

Abu Haleema, who has associated with Islamic State recruiters, says: “for the record, I don’t support the Islamic State”, when challenged, before bursting out into a fit or laughter. “Just for the record so I don’t get nicked [arrested]”, he adds.

Also see:

More Information Emerges on Foreign Jihadi Fighters in the Philippines

Terror Trends Bulletin, by Christopher Holton, June 1, 2017:

A couple of years ago the Philippine government THOUGHT that they were making progress in ending the long-raging Islamic insurgency on Mindanao.

Clearly, efforts to negotiate a truce with Jihadists there did not work out so well.

Entering into truces with Jihadis is never a good idea for reasons based on Islamic doctrine but in this case, the insurgency reignited for other reasons as well.

Just a few years ago the players in the Jihadist insurgency were the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MIF), Abu Sayaff, Jemaah Islamiyah, and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Then something significant happened: in the summer of 2014, at least a section of Abu Sayyaf pledged allegiance to the Islamic State:

https://terrortrendsbulletin.com/2014/08/04/abu-sayyaf-joins-the-islamic-state/

Now, in 2017, violent Jihad in the Philippines has escalated to the point that Islamic State Jihadis were able to seize a city of 200,000 for the better part of a week.

The biggest aspect of this development is the revelation that there are foreign fighters involved in the fighting in the Philippines. In fact, given the geographic distribution of the reported foreign fighters, as well as the intensity of the fighting there over the past 10 days, one has to consider that it is very possible that the Islamic State has set its sights on the Philippines as the next theater in the global Jihadist insurgency.

“Indonesians, Malaysians, Pakistanis, Saudis, Chechens, Yemenis, Indians, Moroccans, and Turks have been identified among the militants…”

http://dailycaller.com/2017/06/01/philippines-becomes-hotbed-for-isis-activity-as-foreign-jihadis-join-the-fight/

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-militants-foreigners-idUSKBN18Q0OO

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