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U.S. Sailor Killed During Battle to Retake Mosul

I wrote this yesterday and forgot to press the "publish" button. The U.S. Navy announced a Navy chief petty officer serving as an advisor in Northern Iraq has been killed:

A Sailor assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 3 based in Coronado, California, died Oct. 20 after sustaining injuries while deployed to Iraq. Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan, 34, of Anaheim, California, was serving in an advisory capacity to the Iraqi coalition force supporting Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq.

U.S, Naval Institute News reports he was killed when an improvised device exploded during the Iraqi Forces push to retake Mosul from ISIS:

Finan was killed when an improvised explosive device exploded...Developing an EOD capability has been important due to the Islamic State planting roadside bombs and booby-traps as they have moved throughout the region.


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ISIS Builds Tunnels and Trenches Around Mosul

ISIS is getting ready for the attack on Mosul: It plans on creating a "river of fire" along the city's perimeter.

The group has been working hard this month to dig a two-metre by two-metre trench along the city's perimeter and position oil tanks nearby to create a river of fire that would impede advancing troops and hinder aerial surveillance, according to senior Iraq military officers, Mosul residents, and local officials based outside the city.

The U.S. wants to send more U.S. troops to Mosul. [More...]

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Chelsea and Jersey Shore Pipe Bombs: No Motive Yet

Update: A tumbler account has claimed credit in the name of gay rights.The post has since been removed.

Officials do not think the pipe bomb found in a garbage can at Seaside Park on the Jersey Shore is linked to last night's pipe bomb explosions in Chelsea.

Officials said there’s no evidence currently linking the explosion to terrorism, and said the incident appeared to be unrelated to a pipe bomb explosion earlier Saturday in Seaside Park, New Jersey near the start line of a charity run.

“We know from everything we’ve seen so far that this was an intentional act. Again we do not know the nature of it, we do not know the motivation,” de Blasio said

A source told CBS News "both the Chelsea bombs and the Seaside Park bombs used cell phones as triggers." The Chelsea device may have utilized a pressure cooker. [More...]

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New ISIS Magazine: Stand, Die (and Kill)

ISIS's official media arm, al Hayat, has released the first issue of a new magazine called Rumiyah. Here is an English version. (There is also a Turkish, Russian and Arabic version.) In the Foreward, it praises ISIS fighters who died for the cause. The magazine tells its readers to be like these dead fighters: Stand and Die.

This is the way of the muwahhidin in every time and place. Whenever a generation of them passes, another generation follows, holding the banner of tawhid overhead while plunging anew into the battle for Islam, which continues to be waged against shirk and its people. The slogan of each of them is, “Stand and die upon that for which your brothers in faith before you have died.”

The Magazine says the dead fighters aren't really dead at all, but enjoying life in paradise.[More...]

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ISIS Chief Spokesman Killed in Aleppo

This is pretty big. ISIS Chief Spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani has been killed in Aleppo Province. ISIS affiliated news agency Amaq has confirmed it and said he “was martyred while surveying the operations to repel the military campaigns against Aleppo.” Here is the official announcement from ISIS in Arabic.

Here is one of his speeches from 2014 calling for lone wolf attacks. The State Department added him to the Global terror list in 2014. Here is the notice. [More...]

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ISIS Displays US Soldier's ID, US Says He's Fine

Has ISIS in Afghanistan captured a U.S. soldier? A statement today by ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq, accompanied by photographs displaying the Identification card of U.S. Army soldier Ryan Jay Larson, and what is purportedly his equipment, leaves that impression. But the statement stops short of claiming Larson was seized or killed

The statement says ISIS successfully repelled an attack by the Afghan army in the Tor Ghondi and Kha’stan Kamar areas in Nangarhar. It adds ISIS then conducted a counterattack and took control of three of of their points, killing two and injuring several others. It reports many fled. It says ISIS took “ghanimah” of weapons and ammunition. [More...]

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U.S. Conducts New (Not First) Air Strikes in Sirte, Libya

We're bombing Libya again. I say again because many media outlets are erroneously reporting this is the first time. It's not, it's merely the first strike against ISIS in Libya conducted with the approval of the new Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

Previously, there was an airstrike in February, 2015, when the U.S. struck an ISIS training camp in Libya. It's believed there were no civilians at the camp. The U.S. said it targeted and killed ISIS extremist Noureddine Chouchane, linked to the Tunisian beach attacks at Sousse which killed 30 Britons. But Serbia said the U.S. attack killed two of its embassy employees who were being held hostage. The Intercept said evidence supports Serbia's claim. More than 40 people were killed in the strikes. And Libya complained it was not consulted and had not approved.

In November, 2015, the U.S. struck Libya and said it took out Abu Nabil, another suspected Isis leader. The BBC reported: [More...]

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Manned Russian Helicopter Shot Down in Aleppo, 5 Dead

Russia has announced that a helicopter carrying five people (2 officers and 3 crew members) was shot down in Aleppo today. It was returning from a "humanitarian" mission.

On August 1, the Russian military transport helicopter Mi-8 was downed by ground fire on the way to the ‪#‎Hmeymim‬ airbase after delivery of humanitarian aid to the Aleppo city in the ‪#‎Idlib‬ province. There were 3 crew members and 2 officers of the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria. The fate of the Russian servicemen is being found out.

What kind of humanitarian plane has rockets on board?. See also here. The video of the burning helicopter with the rockets published by Halab TV Today is here.

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Issue 15 of ISIS' Dabiq Magazine: "Break the Cross"

ISIS has released Issue 15 of Dabiq Magazine, titled "Break the Cross." You can read a safe copy of the 82 page magazine here or here.

I immediately turned to the end to see if there was something written by hostage John Cantlie. There is not.

There are some new themes, such as the West is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. Even if the bombings stop, it says the best the West can hope for is a temporary truce.

See page 30: "Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You." Shorter version: Because you are non-believers. The invasions and bombings are secondary.

ISIS seems intent on baiting the West into an all out war. It doesn't yet seem to grasp that only foolish politicians like Donald Trump and Republicans will fall for that. [More...]

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Jabhat al Nusra in Splits From al Qaida and Changes Name

For at least a week, there have been reports that the leader of Jabhat al Nusra in Syria, Abū Muhammad al-Jūlānī, (sometimes spelled al-Jolani and al-Joulani and al-Golani), is about to announce the group's split from al Qaida.

Yesterday, it happened. Announcements were made by both groups, emphasizing this is not an ideological split. The U.S says it's just a rebranding, PR move. Al Qaida and al Nusra say it's much more than that. [More...]

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Reading Too Much Into ISIS Losses, Too Little Into Turkey

There's a tendency by many to assume because ISIS is losing ground in Syria and Iraq, and its number of fighters has declined, that ISIS is a problem that will soon self-destruct.

Respected researcher and analyst Scott Atran (whose insightful articles I've quoted before) has a new article in the New York Review of Books, ISIS: The Durability of Chaos, which focuses on what to expect after these recent ISIS losses. I highly recommend reading it.

Another still relevant article co-written by Atran: Paris: The War ISIS Wants [More...]

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Death Toll Tops 80 in Bastille Day Attack in Nice

More than 80 are dead in last night's terror attack in Nice, France where crowds of people were watching fireworks and celebrating Bastille Day.

The driver of the truck, a French-Tunisian binational, was killed by police. ISIS supporters on Telegram are celebrating and promoting lone wolf attacks. Other cities are mentioned as potential targets, including Berlin and Toronto. I refuse to get a Telegram account because it insists on providing a phone number, but Journalist Tam Hussein's twitter feed has a roundup with graphics. As of now, there is no official ISIS statement.

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ISIS Military Commander Omar al-Shishani Dies Again

The Pentagon said it killed the red-bearded ISIS military commander Omar al-Shishani in an airstrike in March. (Background here.) ISIS chatter refuted this. Some said he had been wounded, others said he was just fine. Al-Shishani, who headed up the Army of Immigrants and split from Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Answar in 2013 when he pledged allegiance to ISIS leader al Baghdadi, has been declared dead at least five times.

Wednesday, Amaq News Agency, which is affiliated with ISIS but not an official ISIS media group, announced al Shishani died a few days ago in preparation of the upcoming battle to take back Mosul.

And the Pentagon has now admitted it was wrong in March, and al-Shishani was killed this week. [More...]

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New ISIS Video From Mosul With Hostage John Cantlie

Photo from Site Intel Group

A new ISIS video was released today featuring British cameraman and hostage John Cantlie. He criticizes the bombing of Mosul University by the U.S. which he says happened about 3 months ago. The video was released by Amaq News Agency which while not an official ISIS news agency like al Hayat, is ISIS affiliated. [More...]

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ISIS Releases Video Outlining Its Structure

ISIS has released a 15 minute English video outlining the structure of the Kalifah, from al-Baghdadi at the top, on down. It explains the hierarchy. I was going to link to it but the last minute or so is very graphically violent (things like beheadings with blood spurting from necks) so I won't.

Analyst and collector of ISIS official documents Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi has this analysis.

This video tells the viewer ISIS as a governing state continues to exist and is expanding. There's a central committee under al Baghdadi. The central committee is in charge of the Wilayats (provinces.) There are presently 35 Wilayats, 19 in Iraq and Syria and 16 elsewhere. [More...]

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