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The United States announced today it was increasing the reward for information on the whereabouts of ISIS leader al-Baghdadi to $25 million from $10 million. The same amount is being offered for al Qaida leader al-Zawahiri.
The reward is part of the Rewards for Justice Program, administered by the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
ISIS has had a surge this week by retaking Palmyra and a Syrian army base near Mosul (Tiyas or T4). Today ISIS claims it has surrounded the largest military base east of Homs, called The Altifor Airbase, from the north, east and south. It released a statement saying it used an ATGM to hit a 57mm cannon north of #Tiyas/#T4. It is also attacking near Deir Ezzor. The US conducted 10 airstrikes in Palmyra yesterday.
Is a former Army brat now an American leader of the Islamic State? See this article in the Atlantic.
In Aleppo, the Iranian Shia militias blocked the evacuation today. In Idlib the past few days, the crowds have been cheering ISIS and protesting the rebels.
Excepting Aleppo, which is a human tragedy of epic proportion, worst of all, in a month, Donald Trump will be commander in chief.
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British photojournalist and ISIS hostage John Cantlie is still alive. ISIS released a new video today of him in Mosul. He asks why the coalition forces are bombing Mosul's bridges when the only people affected are residents -- the ISIS fighters, the "Mujahideen", are on fighting on the front lines outside Mosul. He shows a destroyed bridge which make it very difficult for people to get around.
He looks thin, but I don't think he looks much different than his last video in July. I am just glad he is still alive. [More...]
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The report is called Changes in Modus Operandi of IS revisited and is available here. Among the key findings: [More...]
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ISIS has released Issue 3 of Rumiyah Magazine, in English. (no link due to not wanting to promote its readership).
It begins with a transcript of IS leader al Baghadi's recent speech. Then there is an article called "Just Terror Tactics" that praises the use of vehicle attacks, particularly with large trucks like those you can rent from Hertz and U-Haul.
It has a two big photos of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and states it is an "excellent target."
The article also contains instructions for what kind of truck you need, and suggests ways to get one. It then goes into what you need to prepare for the attack, how to make sure ISIS gets the credit and how to maximize the body count, none of which I will repeat. The reason for increasing the body count is interesting though: the article says a higher body count may "increase the
possibility of attaining shahadah" which in turn, is the "best of departures" from this world. [More..]
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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 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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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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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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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.
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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 killedThe 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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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.
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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.
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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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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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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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