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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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Sunday ISIS Readiing

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Bangladesh Attack: 28 Killed, Mostly Foreigners

ISIS has taken credit for the attack at the Holy Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh in which 28 people were killed, many of whom were foreigners.

At least three of the attackers attended a private English immersion school in Dhaka. They have been identified as Rohan Imtiaz, Shameem Mubasher, and Nibras Islam. According to witnesses, the attackers gave the people in the restaurant a test:[More...]

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ISIS Releases Video Praising Orlando Attacks

ISIS has released a multi-national video on the Orlando killings through its Media Office of Wilayat Furat. (Link is to news article, not video.) The video is called "You Are Not Held Responsible Except for Yourself." It features multiple fighters as speakers, including an American, a Frenchman, an Uzbeki and an Indonesian. The American, Abu Ism'ail al-Amriki says ISIS will take revenge for every brother and sister killed by the Crusaders. There is a photo of Omar Mateen, video of the aftermath of his rampage, and praise for his actions.

“Do you think you’re at war with a small group of Mujahedeen in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other places? You are sadly mistaken. And do you think you can defeat us by bombarding our homes with the help of your drones and F-16s [and government groups]? Then again, you have sadly made a great mistake,” Al-Amriki says. “Oh America, indeed you are at war with all the true and sincere Muslims around the world.”

The French speaker appears to highlight this killer of a French police officer.

Not surprisingly, ISIS is milking Mateen, glorifying him even though it's most unlikely he had any connection to ISIS before his killing spree. The point being that the media should be more careful when reporting on lone wolf terror acts to avoid handing ISIS a windfall. [More..]

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All Four ISIS "Beatles" Guards Now Identified

All four of the brutal British prison guards of ISIS's foreign hostages known as the Beatles have now been identified. Here's an interview with the mother of the 4th one, El Shafee Elsheikh, identified a few days ago by the Washington Post and BuzzFeed.

All are believed to have been part of Amr Al Absi's group, a story I've summarized numerous times (see here and here) and who was killed in a US air strike recently. [More...]

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Fallujah, Syria, and ISIS

The battle by Iraqi forces to retake Fallujah has begun.

The U.S. says it killed the iconic Abu Wahib, ISIS's military commander of the Anbar province about 10 days ago. He's been declared dead before, but not by the Pentagon, which claims to have killed him in an airstrike near Rutbah.

ISIS conducted suicide bombings in Syria today killing a lot of people. [More..]

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U.S. Supports Equipping and Training Libyan Troops

John Kerry announced today the U.S. supports training and equipping the military of the newly minted Libyan "unity" government so it can better fight ISIS.

Speaking in Vienna, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States and other major nations would back the Libyan government's attempt to win an exemption from a United Nations arms embargo.

Kerry said it was "imperative" for the international community to support the 6-week-old government in Tripoli, which he called "the only legitimate one in Libya and which must now start to work.”

The State Department's press release is here. The new Libyan government is 6 weeks old and arrived in Libya by boat from Tunisia. [More...]

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Navy Seals in Gunfight Against ISIS

The Navy Seal who died yesterday in a shootout with ISIS is Charles Keating IV, grandson of the late financier and real estate developer who was convicted and served jail time in the 1980's savings and loan scandal.

Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles H. Keating IV, 31, was shot and killed during a two-hour battle with about 125 militants who had stormed the Kurdish-held town of Tel Skuf, about 20 miles north of Mosul.

Keating “got hit just in the course of his gun battle. Whether it was a sniper or some fighter with his [rifle] is unclear,” Warren said. “This was a gunfight so there were bullets everywhere.”

As the militants advanced, the U.S. force was sent in to extract the Americans and to help the Kurdish fighters, who have been key allies in the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State.

Here'a a video of the Navy Seals participating with Peshmerga Kurdish forces in direct clashes with ISIS in Telskuf in Mosul. (No graphic images or victims)

How is this not "boots on the ground?"

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ISIS: Third U.S. Combat Death in Iraq

The U.S. has confirmed a navy SEAL was killed today by ISIS fire.

On Tuesday, a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed by “direct fire” about three miles from the front lines north of Mosul after Islamic State fighters penetrated Kurdish peshmerga forces, U.S. officials said. It was the third U.S. combat death in Iraq linked to the fight against the Islamic State.

The name of the U.S. base is Firebase Bell. On March 19, Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin was killed in a rocket attack on the base.

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ISIS Releases Nasheed Video "Blood for Blood"

ISIS news of note this week: Al-Hayat Media, ISIS' official media arm, has released a new "nasheed" video featuring child fighters. It's called "Sang Pour Sang" (Blood for Blood). The children sing in French, but there's an English and French option for viewing the words. The point of the video: to warn the U.S. and its allies that revenge for the airstrikes is coming.

Via Belgian researcher and analyst Pieter Van Ostaeyen, here are the words in English. He has also posted the video here. [Heads-up, there are graphic images of bombing victims but with one exception that I saw, no victims of ISIS killings. The exception is a very small still image of someone being beheaded in the frame accompanying the words "to slice necks". So if that will upset you, don't watch the video. I'm writing about the video because I think it's important to know what ISIS says it believes. In order to defeat your enemy, you first must understand it. ( The Art of War.)][More...]

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Mission Creep : 5,000 U.S. Troops in Iraq

Time Magazine reports on the slow but steady increase of U.S. troop presence in Iraq. Apparently, it's in preparation for the upcoming battle to retake Mosul from ISIS.

Unless you have a loved one in the U.S. military, you probably haven’t been aware of the slow-but-steady increase in American troops on the ground inside Iraq.... On Monday, Pentagon officials said the total U.S. troop presence in Iraq would grow by more than 200 troops—to a deployed force of 4,087—as Baghdad and Washington prepare to take Mosul back from ISIS.

Troops on temporary assignment in Iraq, those guarding diplomatic outposts—or those rotating in to replace troops who haven’t left yet—aren’t included under that 4,087 ceiling. When they are, Pentagon officials say, the total U.S. troops presence in Iraq is creeping toward 5,000.

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