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US Shift to "Annihilation" Tactics on ISIS

James Mattis, Secretary of Defense, said today on CBS' Face the Nation that the U.S. is shifting to "annihilation tactics" on ISIS.

“We have already shifted from attrition tactics, where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them. Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We’re not going to allow them to do so. We’re going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”

He also said civilian deaths are to be expected.

“Civilian casualties are a fact of life in this sort of situation....“We’re not the perfect guys, but we are the good guys. And so we’re doing what we can.”

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US Drops YUUGE Bomb on ISIS in Afghanistan

First Syria. Now Trump's military bombs Afghanistan with the biggest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal. The purpose: Taking out a tunnel system created by ISIS's Wilayat Khorasan. (Note: ISIS in the Khorasan is not the same as al Qaeda's group of fighters from the Khorasan region.)

ISIS's Khorasan Wilayat is primarily in the Nangarhar and Kunar provinces. ISIS announced its formation in 2015.

We bring the mujahideen the good news of the Islamic State’s expansion to Khorasan (a region encompassing Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other nearby lands). Therefore, we call upon all the mujahideen in Khorasan to join the caravan of the Khilafah [caliphate] and abandon disunity and factionalism.

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Hillary Says Strike Syria, Trump Does It

Hillary Clinton said on Thursday, speaking at a Women's conference:

Mrs. Clinton grew particularly forceful in condemning Syria’s recent chemical attack and called for a strong military response to confront President Bashar al-Assad and “take out his airfields.”

Hours later, Trump announced airstrikes on Syria.

They are both wrong in my view. We should not be attacking Syria. At the very least, he should have sought congressional approval.

Donald Trump should not be allowed to make any major decisions about the country, we are not living on a reality TV show. He doesn't know what he's doing. Donald Trump provokes that feeling you get riding backwards down an up escalator.

ISIS is undoubtedly cheering Trump's play right into their hands. I can't watch, this won't end well for us.

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Iraq Suspends Mosul Advance Due to High Civilian Deaths

Iraq has suspended its advance on ISIS in Mosul due to the vast increase in civilian deaths from coalition bombings.

Iraqi military leaders have halted their push to recapture west Mosul from Islamic State as international outrage grew over the civilian toll from airstrikes that killed at least 150 people in a single district of the city.

The attack on the Mosul Jadida neighbourhood is thought to have been one of the deadliest bombing raids for civilians since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble on Saturday, more than a week after the bombs landed, when the US-led coalition confirmed that its aircraft had targeted Isis fighters in the area.

The U.S. has launched an official investigation.

Donald Trump previously called for a review of Obama's rules ensuring civilian deaths would be minimized. There's concern he's already lowered the threshold. [More...]

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As Mosul Burns

As the Iraqis take back Mosul, a diminished but not extinct ISIS continues to operate on other fronts. Today it released Rumiyah 7, the seventh issue of its English magazine. Some takeaways:

No two Muslims would disagree that preparing for jihad for the cause of Allah is an obligation. Allah urged people to this duty in His book when He said, “Prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged” (Al-Anfal 60). So there is no doubt that preparation is a factor that contributes to victory and success against the enemy.

By Allah’s grace, the soldiers of the Khilafah have complied with this divine command. They prepared as much as Allah has made possible for them, a good amount of which the enemy has seen, and what is coming is more severe and bitter, by Allah’s permission.

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Where Will ISIS Fighters Go If the Caliphate Fails?

The decline of ISIS seems to be hastening, according to analysts, who say it's only a matter of time before ISIS is defeated, either militarily or though a negotiated settlement.

Where will their potentially thousands of fighters, referred to as transnational terrorists, who avoid capture and death, go next? Amarnath Amarasingam and Colin P. Clark take a stab a the question in the Atlantic, and say the fighters have a few options. Here are their conclusions:

ISIS fighters are unquestionably capable: Dug in to their positions, they have skillfully used tunnels and subterranean networks to move men and materials, and have perfected the production and deployment of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices to keep their adversaries at bay.

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U.S. Increases Award for Information on ISIS Leader al-Baghdadi

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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ISIS Releases New Video of John Cantlie in Mosul

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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New Europol Report on ISIS Warns of More Attacks in Europe

Europol's counter-terrorism unit ECTC has released a new report on the changing tactics of ISIS.

The report is called Changes in Modus Operandi of IS revisited and is available here. Among the key findings: [More...]

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New Issue of ISIS Magazine Targets Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

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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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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