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On Twitter, ISIS is claiming credit for the car bomb attack today outside the U.S. embassy in Erbil. They say it was done by fighters in their Kirkuk division.
According to McClatchy:
A Kurdish security official told McClatchy that three attackers approached a checkpoint near the consulate in an SUV apparently with the intention of attacking it on foot to make room for a suicide bomber, who was either on foot or in the car. They were spotted by peshmerga security forces stationed outside the consulate, who opened fire. The security official said the three attackers were killed, though whether they were killed by gunshots or detonated explosives was unclear.
More photos here. [More...]
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As the U.S. continues its air strikes, ISIS attacked the the Baiji oil refinery last night. It is Iraq's largest refinery. Control has gone back and forth between ISIS and the Iraqi forces several times over the past 9 months.
Iraq said today ISIS attacked the refinery on three sides but only reached the perimeter and launched a suicide attack. The ISIS photos and videos show they made it further. But more interesting, is this photo of an ISIS "command center" used during the attacks, where the action is displayed on multiple computer screens as the commanders sitting at them instruct the fighters by what looks like radio phones: [More...]
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#Shami Witness, aka Mehdi Masroor Biswas, was denied bail today by a Special Terrorism Court in Bangladore. The court also granted police another 6 months to file charges. The request was made a month ago.
Shami Witness, the prolific tweeter and disseminator of ISIS news, with 17,000 followers on Twitter, was arrested in December. Four months later, formal charges have yet to be filed and the court just got around to hearing his application for bail. [More...]
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Tikrit is in shambles following it's "liberation" from ISIS. The U.S. and Iraq are now investigating incidents of rampant looting, burning of Sunni homes and businesses, summary executions and and beheadings of Sunni and ISIS captives by the self-proclaimed victors, the Iran-backed Shi'ite militias and the Iraqi military.
American and Iraqi officials called for investigations on Friday into reports that Iraqi security forces were summarily executing captives and looting property in Tikrit, and warned that such abuses could undermine the international effort to defeat the Sunni extremists of Islamic State.
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Issue #8 of the Islamic State's English magazine, Dabiq, has been released. The cover title says "Shari'ah Alone Will Rule Africa." You can download it here.
As with prior issues, the last article is one by British hostage John Cantlie. It's called "The Paradigm Shift" and in it he asserts that the only viable course for the west is a truce with ISIS. [More...]
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The Syrian pilot captured by militants after their helicopter crash-landed in Idlib today has been turned over to Jabhat al Nusra, the Syrian arm of al Qaida. In a rant on video, preacher and Nusra ally Sheikh Abdullah al-Mhaisni stands over the pilot with a gun. [More...]
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General David Petraeus was back in Iraq last week at a conference. He said:
In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.
Petraeus also talked about Syria: [More...]
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At least 137 people died in suicide bombing attacks at Houthi mosques in Sanaa, Yemen today. ISIS has released an official statement through its Wilayat Sanaa claiming credit.
Yemen is torn by a power struggle between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the north and Hadi, who has set up a rival power base in the south backed by Sunni-led Gulf Arab states.
The mosques in Sanaa are known to be used mainly by supporters of the Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group, which controls most of northern Yemen, including Sanaa.
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There was an attack today on the Bardo Museum in Tunisia. At least 11 people were killed, mostly foreign tourists. Other sources say the numbers are higher: (15 tourists, 1 Tunisian citizen, 1 museum employee, 2 policemen and two militant attackers.)
A few days ago, messages to Tunisia began appearing on ISIS Twitter accounts. Example: "Urgent. The Land of the Caliphate will soon sent you a message which will please you, God willing."
McClatchy says 7,000 Tunisian ISIS fighters have joined ISIS.
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Yesterday, released ISIS hostage Javier Espinosa, a journalist with El Mundo, provided his first account of his kidnapping and detention by ISIS, including his description of "Jihadi John", believed to be Mohammed Emwazi. It was in the Sunday Times (UK) which is subscription only, and only descriptions by other media outlets were available.
Fortunately, El Mundo, has published it for free in two installments. Each one is about 4,000 words. It is riveting to say the least. Espinosa was held with James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Alan Henning, Peter Kassig and the other Western journalists and hostages, and he discusses all of them.
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Yesterday, ISIS supporters on Twitter were all excited waiting for a new speech by chief spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani. It was released mid-afternoon, but without English translation. Titled "So They Kill and Are Killed" Adnani accepted the "bayah" of Boko Haram in Nigeria, to become part of the Califphate, and urged supporters to go to Africa and fight with them.
There were news reports that in his speech, he threatened to blow up the Eiffel Tower, the White House, and Big Ben. An English translation has now been released. You can read it here or here. He doesn't call upon supporters to attack these places, he just says these attacks will happen before they conquer Rome. (Rome is usually a reference to the apocalypse and the Byzantine Roman Empire which was based in Constantinople, not Rome, Italy, and could be generations from now. More here.) [More...]
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Pro-ISIS Tweeter and news disseminator Mehdi Masroor Biswas, aka @Shami Witness, arrested in India in December, 2014, is still in custody in India. No charges have been filed. He hasn't had a bail hearing yet. The latest 90 day extension of time to file a charge sheet expires this week.
On March 9, Bangladore police requested an additional six months to file a charge sheet.
A hearing on the request and Shami's petition for bail may be set for next week. How can India hold someone for 120 days without a bail hearing? [More...]
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Simon Cottee in the Atlantic interviews top U.S. counterterrorism officials about the daunting challenge the U.S. faces in trying to combat ISIS propaganda war and what it will take to defeat it.
The U.S. State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) was created in 2010 to counter jihadist online media. It's motto, which appears on every powerpoint presentation, is “Media is more than half the battle" and “The war of narratives has become even more important than the war of navies, napalm, and knives.” (The latter is a quote by a dead militant.)[More...]
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Sky News has a new interview with an Isis defector who says in very broken English he worked as a translator for ISIS, attended the killing of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, and then ran away to Turkey. He is referred to as Saleh, which is not his real name. More details are here.
Salah describes Emwazi, whom he calls John, as "the boss" of the foreign hostage killers. He says John is with ISIS' media arm. He says anyone is allowed to kill a Syrian, but only John executes foreigners. [More...]
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ISIS has been promoting a new video by al Furqan Media all morning about the execution of a captured Mossad agent. An interview with the agent, Muhammad Sa’īd Ismā’īl Musallam, was featured in the latest issue of Dabiq magazine (Issue #7, described here). He said he was the only Arab in his unit, the others were Jewish.
Clearly designed to shock, in the now released video, which I won't link to, a child soldier kills the orange clad prisoner while standing right in front of him. He stares coldly at him and shoots him in the forehead. Then he fires more bullets into him and shouts "Allahu Akbar" as he raises his arm in triumph. [More....]
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