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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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Can Western Governments Stop Their Citizens From Joining Terror Groups?


Source: Rayat al Tawheed Tumbler

Western nations are trying to stop citizens from leaving to fight with groups like ISIS.

What do counter-terror officials propose?

Counterterrorism officials recommend that countries share data to detect the recruitment of foreign fighters, monitor online communications more aggressively, share airline passenger information in advance, and criminalize travel abroad to fight.

How will they limit the surveillance to those who may want to join ISIS as opposed to regular citizens? My answer: They can't. So the rest of us should get used to to to the idea of ramped up intrusions on our civil liberties.

Most of the recruits are young -- in their 20's. Arresting them on their return, as some countries are proposing, or as they are about to leave, and giving them long jail sentences is a bad idea. Prison will further radicalize them. They will become more marginalized and feel more oppressed.
I doubt this will prevent any young adults from wanting to join them. [More...]

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White House: We're At War With ISIS

Update: Steven Sotloff's parents are also now saying they were threatened with prosecution if they tried to raise the ransom money. One crime they were told they could be charged with: Material support of terrorism. This is completely unacceptable. I think it's time to out the officials who made the threats. (How is it John Kerry didn't know about this? See his response below.

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Yesterday on CNN, John Kerry refused to call the fight against ISIS a war:

“We're engaged in a counterterrorism operation of a significant order," said Kerry, speaking from Saudi Arabia. "I think 'war' is the wrong reference term with respect to that, but obviously it involves kinetic military action."

Today, White House Spokesman John Earnest pulled no such punches.

"In the same way that we are at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates around the globe, we are at war with ISIL."

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Oscar Pistorius: Final Verdict

Judge Masipa has finished reading her verdict in the Oscar Pistorius trial. He is not guilty of murder but guilty of culpable homicide. She found him guilty of one count of negligent handling of a firearm (the one that went off in the restaurant) and not guilty of another firearm charge (shooting through his sunroof.) She found him not guilty of illegal possession of ammunition.

I think she was very thorough and her ruling on the homicide charge was correct. Recap of her ruling below. (For yesterday's verdict reading, see here.) [More...]

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New Michael Brown Witness Statements

Two workers, one of whom agreed to be interviewed, say they witnessed the shooting of Michael Brown. They didn't see the confrontation at Officer Wilson's vehicle, but according to the description of the one who is now speaking out, they did see what happened thereafter.

His account largely matches those who reported that Wilson chased Brown on foot away from the car after the initial gunshot and fired at least one more shot in the direction of Brown as he was fleeing; that Brown stopped, turned around and put his hands up; and that the officer killed Brown in a barrage of gunfire.

The worker said Brown stopped to talk to him around 11:00 am. Later, the worker heard a shot: [More...]

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Oscar Pistorius Verdict Reading

4:15 am: Glad I stayed up for one more segment. The Judge has just rejected premeditated murder. The state failed to prove its case. She spent some time saying Oscar was a poor witness and not candid with the court, but said that isn't enough to conclude he's guilty. His testimony must be viewed in conjunction with all the evidence presented. Again, it's going to be not guilty of premeditated murder, but she's leaning towards guilt on culpable homicide. She has discretion in sentencing at that charge. Big loss for the arrogant, bellicose prosecutor. Huge win for the defense, blocking a life sentence.

2:55 am MT: Judge takes a half hour break. I'm done for the night, fairly confident that the Judge will find him not guilty of premeditated murder, having rejected most of the state's case. After finishing the issue of premeditation, she recounted Oscar's testimony and his conflicting statements which included that he did not shoot intentionally, he shot accidentally, and he shot unconsciously, without thinking. She doesn't buy his version, and cites him having released the safety mechanism and that he also said he fired because he thought someone was in the bathroom and might come out and attack him. It sounds like she will find him not guilty of the more serious premeditated murder charge and is moving onto his intent in shooting and the "culpable homicide" charge. It's not looking good for Oscar on the culpable murder charge -- it sounds like she thinks he could have foreseen that someone would be shot and killed even if that was not his intent, but she's not done yet. [More...]

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Thursday Open Thread

I think I'm ISIS'd out for a while, at least until they announce the name of the mysterious black-clad executioner. I'm also going to follow the Oscar Pistorius verdict. For other topics, here's a new open thread.

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Obama's Speech on ISIS: Live Blog and Reactions

Update: The White House just issued this Fact Statement on its plan to fight ISIS. DOD Secretary Chuck Hagel released this (non-reassuring) statement.

Update: Why Obama's Strategy Has No Chance of Success. See also, Juan Cole.

Update: I think this was a mostly emotional speech. I also think it was risky to be so insulting to ISIS, when they are still holding so many Western hostages, including a female American aid worker.

I disagree with Obama that our years of efforts have been successful in Yemen and Somalia. We took out a few leaders, so what? They just appoint new ones. (It's no different than our ineffective approach to the drug cartels.) AQAP and al-Shabbab have not been diminished. The state of affairs in Yemen and Somalia ranges from unstable to chaotic. Al Qaida central just opened a new branch in the Indian sub-continent.

Obama's strategy has no timeline, he gave no indication of what would be considered a "success" so we would have an end point. I don't even think he referenced the Peshmerga or Turkey as a coalition partner. He said we would work to shut off the point of entry for recruits, but how, if Turkey isn't part of the effort? [More...]

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Australia Says Obama Asked It to Send Special Forces to Iraq

The West Australian reports:

The US wants Australia to commit special forces soldiers to an international mission to destroy Islamic State militants rampaging through northern Iraq.

Australia has already indicated it would offer jet fighters to a US-led coalition but The West Australian understands that Washington believes Australia's most valuable contribution to the mission would be Special Air Service Regiment troops and Commandos.

The request is said to have been made yesterday, after Australia arrested someone for providing money to a different insurgent group, Jabat-al-Nusra, which has been fighting ISIS: [More...]

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Quotes from Obama's Speech on ISIS

Here is a quote from Obama's speech tonight on ISIS:

“So tonight, with a new Iraqi government in place, and following consultations with allies abroad and Congress at home, I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat. Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.

But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

According to John Kerry today, no other country has agreed to put boots on the ground in Iraq or Syria. [More...]

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ISIS Vs. The World

It's ISIS against the world as the countdown begins to Obama's speech on how the U.S. will fight ISIS. Enough details have leaked to already know the basics:

  • We will arm and train Syrian rebels like the Free Syrian Army. Training is likely to be in Saudi Arabia, Jordan (and may already be underway.) Saudi Arabia confirmed its support today in a phone call with Obama. Harry Reid has asked Congress to vote on authorizing money for it. Republicans are giving him a hard time. [More...]

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Verdict Day Tomorrow for Oscar Pistorius

Judge Thokozile Masipa will deliver her verdict tomorrow on Oscar Pistorius. Time Magazine has this rundown of how the verdict will be delivered and the possible outcomes.

[I]f there are any convictions on the four charges Pistorius faces — murder and three unrelated firearm charges — sentences will only be decided later at a separate hearing.

The Guardian has this summary of the charges and each sides' arguments.

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