Last month, an Army Delta Force raid in eastern Syria killed Abu Sayyaf, a senior ISIS leader involved in finance and other operations, and also led to the capture of his wife. The raid yielded significant intelligence that U.S. officials said adds to their understanding of ISIS’s structure and communications.
Several officials cautioned, however, that all of the intelligence gathered and information gained from the interrogation of the captured wife must be vetted and confirmed.
READ: Carter: ISIS raid a ‘significant blow’ to terror group
As CNN has previously reported, a U.S. official said the raid netted terabytes worth of data in external hard drives and hard copy, a higher volume than had originally been anticipated. The U.S. is reviewing it all to determine if it leads to anything that can be acted upon.
A second official said one U.S. airstrike in eastern Syria just a few days ago that killed a local ISIS emir was conducted on the basis of information gained from the raid.
Pentagon: ISIS Using Tunnels to Bomb Targets in Iraq, Syria (breitbart.com)
The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and rebels in Syria are using tunnel bombs as a potent new weapon, an upgrade to an ancient tactic, according to a Pentagon organization.
“Updating an ancient tactic, Islamic State militants — as well as rebels in Syria — are digging virtually undetectable tunnels, then planting bombs to blow up buildings and other targets,” reports Defense One, quoting JIEDDO (Joint IED Defeat Organization), the Pentagon arm focused on defeating the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) as a weapon.
Defense One learned from Pentagon officials and documents that several dozen tunnel bombs have been used by rebels in Syria while ISIS detonated them last week to capture Ramadi, the capital of Anbar, Iraq’s largest province.
The concept behind detonating a tunnel bomb is reportedly quite simple: dig long enough to reach your intended target, plant explosives, and hit the detonator.
“This below the surface attack is particularly destructive to buildings and is appearing increasingly in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria,” said JIEDDO at a recent briefing, according to Defense One.
“The use of tunnels for IEDs and other purposes will continue to provide a low risk strategic advantage to extremist organizations and therefore requires continued development efforts and fielding of effective mitigation techniques,” it added.
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has designated all groups attempting to topple him, which include ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front, as rebels.
ISIS in Iraq and rebels in Syria have detonated at least 45 tunnel bombs in the past two years, JIEDDO said.
Although most have been in Syria, U.S. officials told Defense One that ISIS is building a network of tunnels, as well as bunkers and trenches, in Iraq.
“In Syria, rebels have used tunnels bombs to attack government forces under the control of Bashar al-Assad,” reports Defense One. “Many of these tunnels were dug with hand tools to avoid detection.”
“In Iraq, ISIS used tunnel attacks to devastating effect in their assault on Ramadi. On March 11, ISIS forces detonated a tunnel bomb under an Iraqi army headquarters, killing an estimated 22 people,” it adds. “The blast consumed seven tons of explosives in an 800-foot long tunnel that took two months to dig, according to the JIEDDO briefing. On March 15, a second tunnel bomb was used to attack Iraqi Security Forces. The city fell two months later.”
During the briefing, JIEDDO noted that ISIS frequently disseminates videos on social media showing the use of tunnel bombs on its targets.
“As part of an information operations campaign, these attacks are documented and widely proliferated via social media which increases the likelihood of migration to other conflict areas or adoption by other extremist organizations on a worldwide basis,” reportedly said JIEDDO.
The Pentagon organization revealed that tunnel bombs are being used to target military checkpoints, buildings, and other protected establishments.
It can take less than 30 days to dig a short tunnel, while longer ones (no more than 1 mile in length) can take up to nine months to complete, said JIEDDO.
Defense One notes that tunnels have been weaponized by Iran proxy Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza as a means to smuggle weapons and attack Israel.
“Now their use is spreading, and extending to direct attacks,” explains the article.
“Beyond bombs, ISIS is believed to be using tunnels to move weapons and avoid detection by American and ally fighter jets and drones. (ISIS may even be exploiting Saddam Hussein’s own tunnel network, which is thought to stretch for 60 miles between palaces, military strongholds, and houses,” it adds. “During the U.S. invasion in 2003, Saddam’s forces used these tunnels to move weapons and as hideouts.)”
Zainab Bangura, UN secretary general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, speaks at the G8 Foreign Ministers meeting in London on April 11, 2013.
(PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
In continuing to display how little the Islamic State values life and women, ISIS militants are buying and selling sexually enslaved girls and women for as cheap as a pack of cigarettes in hopes of attracting more men to the group, a United Nations envoy declared on Monday.
Zainab Bangura, the United Nations special representative on sexual violence in conflict, told AFP that in order for ISIS to recruit more foreign fighters to join its military ranks, the caliphate continues to capture more girls and women in each new territory it conquers and then sells them at low prices.
“This is how they attract young men — ‘we have women waiting [for] you, virgins that you can marry,'” Bangura said. “The foreign fighters are the backbone of the fighting.”
Bangura, who recently toured through five Middle East countries and interviewed numerous women who were victimized by ISIS but managed to escape, explained that ISIS’ jihad is fueled by the enslavement of women.
“They [ISIS militants] kidnap and abduct women when they take areas so they have — I don’t want to call it a fresh supply, but they have new girls,” Bangura, a native of Sierra Leone, asserted. “This is a war that is being fought on the bodies of women.”
According to April’s estimates, ISIS has approximately 25,000 foreign fighters. But not only does ISIS have “new girls” for foreign fighters to acquire once they reach the caliphate, ISIS’ sex slaves are affordable and priced to meet even the poorest militant’s budget.
Bangura said that captured women and girls are often forced to strip naked and are judged by ISIS militants who gauge how much they are to be sold for. The fighters price some girls as high as a few thousand dollars, while selling others for “as little as a pack of cigarettes,” she stated.
“Some [females] were taken, locked up in a room — over 100 of them in a small house — stripped naked and washed,” Bangura said. “They were then made to stand in front of a group of men who decided ‘what you are worth.'”
After a girl is sold to an ISIS fighter, she is usually beaten, raped against her will and often sold or given away to another militant when the fighter is done abusing her. Should a sex slave refuse to give into her militant’s brutal and abnormal sexual fantasies, she is beaten or sometimes tortured.
In May, Bangura explained that a 20-year-old sex slave was burned alive after she refused to perform an “extreme sex act.”
“We heard one case of a 20-year-old girl who was burned alive because she refused to perform an extreme sex act,” Bangura said. “We learned of many other sadistic sexual acts. We struggled to understand the mentality of people who commit such crimes.”
Bangura also said that ISIS forces some captured women and girls into prostitution.
In a press briefing in early May, Bangura explained that one sex slave, who was sold to 20 different ISIS fighters before she escaped, was forced to undergo virginity repair surgery each time she was sold and raped by the next ISIS fighter.
“ISIL have institutionalized sexual violence and the brutalization of women as a central aspect of their ideology and operations, using it as a tactic of terrorism to advance their strategic objectives,” Bangura said.
Bangura told AFP that ISIS wants to “build a society that reflects the 13th century,” through its systemic sexual abuse of women, which she labeled as a “medieval” practice.
“Sexual violence by ISIL and other extremist groups arises from discrimination and dehumanization based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, political or religious identity, in particular the subordination of women and girls,” Bangura wrote in an email to Women eNews. “Indeed, the same ideology and objectives that motivate Boko Haram to abduct women and girls in Nigeria, also spur ISIL to enslave women and girls in Syria and Iraq.”
“Such violence has led to a number of harmful or negative coping mechanisms, such as the early marriage of girls by families that have no other means of protecting them, an increase in polygamy and “survival sex” by those with no economic alternatives, as well as the withdrawal and isolation of women and girls from education and public life,” she added.