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ISIS Release of Turkish Diplomats Raises Questions

ISIS released 49 hostages Saturday. They are Turkish diplomatic officials, family members and three Iraqi workers who have been held since June when they were seized at the Turkish Embassy in Mosul.

Turkey says no ransom was paid and the rescue was not a military operation. It says it knew where the hostages were kept through electronic tracking and intelligence.

The Turkish General Counsel, one of the hostages, says they were almost killed by U.S. airstrikes, which killed two of their guards outside and wounded some inside. [More...]

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Saturday Open Thread

ISIS released the full version of its latest propaganda video yesterday, "Flames of War." It's available on You Tube here.[new link] The speaker narrating the video sounds American. This struck me as an (unintentionally) funny line, which they attribute to al Qaida's Abu Musab al Zarqawi:

Our last open thread is full, here's another one, all topics welcome.

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Missing Afghan Cops Training at Quantico With DEA Found

The DEA brought a bunch of Afghan police to Quantico to train them. It says it polygraphed them and took their passports. That didn't stop two of them from taking off in Georgetown Saturday.

They have now been found. They will be returned to Afghanistan. There's a suggestion in the article they may have intended to seek asylum and "a better life" here.

It’s not known if Samimi and Ataye intended to seek asylum, but it’s likely they left their supervised group to seek a better life in the United States.

More here.

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Friday Open Thread

Scotland voted to stay in the U.K. "With 31 of 32 constituencies declared, unionists had won 55 percent of the vote while separatists were on 45 percent."

The bill to arm and train "moderate" Syrian rebels has now passed in the Senate.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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ISIS: Major Change of Hostage Media Strategy

British reporter John Cantlie was first captured by extremists in Syria in July, 2012. Here he is in a new video, calmly sitting at a table dressed in the tell-tale orange detainee garb, telling the public this is the first of a series of programs from him. There's no man in black, no desert in the background. He says he will expose the truth. He begins by saying the U.K. and U.S.A. are the only countries that refuse to pay ransom demands. He also asks why, after two disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Government is so keen on getting into yet another unwinnable conflict, this time with the Islamic State.

He says, "I know what you're thinking" -- that he's being forced to do this video and there's a gun to his head. He says, it's true, he is a prisoner. But "seeing as I've been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic state, I've got nothing to lose. Maybe I will live and maybe I will die."

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Wednesday Night Open Thread

The House voted to train and arm "moderate" Syrian rebels.

Australia carried out big anti-terror raids. Official government statement here. The media says a senior ISIS member, who is Australian, had called for a random public execution via beheading in Sydney.

This is a open thread, all topics welcome.

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Obama: No Ground Troops For Iraq

President Obama addressed the military in Tampa today.

"I want to be clear. The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission," Obama said.

"We will train and equip our partners. We will advise them and we will assist them. We will lead a broad coalition of countries who have a stake in this fight."

Also today, Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi ruled out foreign ground troops in Iraq. [More...]

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Tuesday Night Open Thread

The iPhone 6 will be in stores on Friday. You can also preorder. It comes in two sizes. You can compare models here. If you are conflicted about which one to buy, read this. And if you currently have a grandfathered-in unlimited data plan, make sure it's still available if you buy a new phone. I'm going to take a pass for now since Apple gave me a new iPhone 5S for free 2 weeks ago when mine died. I also think it's too big.

Our last open thread is full. Here's another one, all topics welcome.

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Pentagon May Ask for Boots on the Ground in Iraq

At a congressional hearing today, General Martin Dempsey would not rule out sending ground troops to Iraq.

“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true,” he said. “But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”

The plan so far, according to Dempsey and Secretary Hagel: [More...]

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Monday Night Open Thread

Long day, just getting home. I'm going to catch up with ISIS and other news.

DWTS has a new season tonight. Tommy Chong is one of the new contestants. This interview with him about the show and pot is pretty funny. (Added: I just saw Tommy dance, he was great. And Cheech driving the car was a great touch. The show is not shying away from his marijuana activism, which is great. He says in the interview he is going to dress in green most of the season. Medical marijuana couldn't have a better placed spokesman.) What happened to Julianne Hough? She's now a judge and looks like Harriet in Ozzie and Harriet. I don't know most of these contestants -- Some lady in red did her dance and then argued with the judges about her performance. She's going to be a pain. Betsy Johnson is a character, I wonder if they added her for comic value alone. She look s like a rag doll. On the other hand, being able to do a cartwheel and a twist at her age is no small feat. I'm surprised she got 5's. Her dancing was about a 2. The young dancer from Duck Dynasty talks like she has marbles in her mouth but what a great dancer.

Update: Anyone see Barbara Streisand on The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon? What an icon. You can watch her sing here.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Congress and White House One Step Behind on Syria Rebels

The White House is pushing Congress to vote on on arming the "moderate" Syrian rebels. Repubicans are getting on board, and a vote may happen Tuesday.
If it’s not the Syrian opposition, trained and equipped by the United States, authorized by Congress and the president … then it’ll have to be U.S. troops,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told “Fox News Sunday.” “The president made a decision on that. We’re not going to do that.” The GOP-led House appears most ready to approve the plan.
Do they read the news? Colonel Riad al-Asaad, the leader of the Free Syrian Army, in interviews yesterday said the group will not join the U.S. in its fight against ISIS unless it receives assurance the U.S. will also take out Syrian President Assad. More here. [More...]

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Move Over ISIS, The Khorasan Are Waiting in the Wings

The Associated Press today reports that ISIS is not a danger to America, but another Islamic extremist group, Khorasan (aka Khurasan), which is affiliated with al Qaida in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the Taliban, is working with Yemeni bomb-makers from AQAP to launch an attack inside the U.S.

At the center is a cell known as the Khorasan group, a cadre of veteran al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, the Nusra Front.

But the Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say. Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.

There are so many Khorasan groups I'm not sure yet which branch this is. [More...]

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Where is ISIS Headed Next?

ISIS has been fairly quiet about its plans lately. Today, it released a new recruitment type video (non-violent). It's called "Squadrons of My State." You can view it here.

The chirons for the video use the phrases "Alive in Baghdad First" and "May Allah preserve them alive as knights in Baghdad First" while showing a blown upphoto of Baghdad and the old Sheraton Ishtar hotel. The hotel was the site of several bombings in 2004 and 2010. It was also a favorite of foreign journalists and businessman. [More...]

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ISIS Executes David Haines, Alan Henning Next

ISIS, through Al Furqan Media, has released a video, Message to Allies of America, in which British hostage David Cawthorne Haines meets the same fate as James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

The same black-clad killer narrates. Instead of being addressed to President Obama, the video is addressed to British prime minister David Cameron. The location is a similar desert spot. The killer again has his gun holster on the left side and uses his left hand to hold the knife and put it to Haines' neck. It then shows Haines' head laying on his body. In the next frame, the killer is holding an orange clad British hostage named Alan Henning, who he says will be next.

He says the action is a result of Cameron's arming the Peshmerga. Later he mentions the recent U.S. bombing of the Haditha Dam, which the Defense Department announced on September 7.[More...]

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Friday Night Open Thread

Anyone have something to say? Our last open thread is full, here's a new one, all topics welcome.

I'm off to watch Senor de Los Cielos -- its ending next week, and will leave a big hole in my TV watching. It's as violent as ISIS, complete with decapitations, hand chopping, forced sex, kidnappings, torture, poisoning, murders of mothers, governors, children of rivals, even a priest. Everyone's corrupt, even the DEA guy. Who watches? Apparently millions of people, it's been renewed for a third season.

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