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Charles Lister's article today on our epic misreading of the problem in Syria is getting tons of praise from analysts on Twitter. Shorter version: The U.S. is walking into an abyss on Syria. Some quotes:
[T]he US and its European partners remain dangerously disconnected from Syria's realities. The threat posed by IS has become a convenient obsession, while the more complex dynamics in the rest of the country appear all but ignored and misunderstood.
... IS remains a potent force in Syria and must be countered, but it will not be marching on Damascus anytime soon, contrary to some uninformed fear mongering. Al-Qaeda also poses a pressing and more long-term threat, perhaps more so than has been acknowledged. But at the end of the day, the root cause of the entire Syrian crisis is Assad and his regime.
Our efforts in Syria to date: "To label the mission a catastrophic failure would be a generous assessment." [More...]
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First, the U.S. admitted equipment it provided to the Syrian Rebels it was training ended up with al Nusra, the Al Qaida affiliated group. But it denied knowing or training the person who gave it to them.
The Daily Beast says Centcom then admitted a little more:
The Pentagon, responding to reports in The Daily Beast that a specific U.S.-trained commander had defected along with most of his unit to a group affiliated with al Qaeda, will now concede that an unnamed commander who actually had been rejected by the U.S. as a possible trainee for the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State had somehow acquired access to U.S. equipment that he then handed over to al Qaeda affiliates.
But it gets worse. [More...]
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France has announced its first independent airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria. The airstrikes hit an ISIS training camp in Deir Ezzor. French analysts are not impressed.
[A]nalysts say that by sending fighter jets to Syria, France is mainly seeking to ease domestic political pressure, and remain relevant abroad in the latest scramble for a diplomatic solution to the conflict.
"To say that we will prevent terrorist attacks in France thanks to air strikes in Syria is, and I am weighing my words, absolute bullsh*t," said Eric Denece, the director of the French intelligence think-tank CF2R.
Deir Ezzor is one of the places where ISIS established camps for children. No word yet on fatalities.
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In December, 2014, the U.S. announced that airstrikes had killed senior ISIS member Hajii Mutazz, aka Fadel Ahmed Abdullah al-Hiyali aka Abu Muslim al Turkmani. He was described by the U.S. as the "right hand man" of leader al Baghdadi.
Today the U.S. announced he was killed in an airstrike this week on August 18.
Via Frontline: [More....]
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He was believed to have been killed in September, 2014, in the U.S. raid on Nusra and its members from Khorasan that killed sniper al Turki. But most denied it. Sometimes they fake their own death. Here's a long post I wrote about him back then.[More...]
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Abdel Bari Atwan, editor-in-chief of news site Rai al-Youm and the author of several books on Islamic extremism including this new book on ISIS, has a column today about how the West still doesn't comprehend ISIS.
He says The West and the invasion of Iraq are responsible for the creation and expansion of ISIS. ISIS is a bigger threat than al Qaida ever was, but we cannot defeat ISIS militarily.[More...]
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Tunisia is building a border fence on its border with Libya to keep out ISIS.
The barrier will cover 168 kilometers (105 miles) — about one-third of the border — and will include fencing, a sand wall, trenches and surveillance posts.
The Sawab Center will use direct online engagement to counter terrorist propaganda rapidly and effectively, including messages used to recruit foreign fighters, fundraise for illicit activities, and intimidate and terrorize local populations. The Sawab Center will increase the intensity of online debate by presenting moderate and tolerant voices from across the region and amplifying inclusive and constructive narratives.
The UK is asking British citizens to leave Tunisia as another attack is feared.
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On June 23, the Pentagon announced Tunisian Ali al Harzi, who was a suspect in the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack, was killed in an airstrike in Mosul, Iraq on June 15. Yesterday, the Pentagon announced his brother, Tariq al Harzi, (pictured above) was killed in an airstrike in Syria on June 16. I wrote a long post on the background of the al Harzi brothers here, commenting that Tariq seemed to be the more significant of the pair.
But there's more to Tariq that I find interesting and hasn't been reported in Government reward listings or OFAC notices: Tariq was a champion boxer in Tunesia who lost a leg in a 2004 U.S. bombing attack in Fallujah in Iraq. Human rights groups said he was tortured for three months by Iraqi intelligence at Abu Ghraib. (He later told his father the Americans had treated him well.) U.S. detention records list him as #009 654. [More...]
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Indonesia's former foreign minister says the U.S. asked Indonesia to send ground troops to Iraq to fight ISIS, and it refused: It didn't want to upset "radical Muslims" at home.
Indonesia was asked by the United States to send troops to join the fight against the Islamic State terror group in Iraq but declined because it feared a backlash among radical Muslims at home, the country's former foreign minister has revealed. Marty Natalegawa, the long-serving top envoy under Jakarta's previous administration, said Indonesia felt it could better contribute by tackling its own domestic extremism problem, whereas sending forces would be "cosmetic".
Maybe the next time it gets hit by a massive Tsunami, our response should be "We can better use that money at home."
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The Islamic State is one year old today. Its long term goal remains the creation of a "lasting and expanding" Caliphate.
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When ISIS official spokesman Mohamed al-Adnani gave his audio speech last week at the beginning of Ramadan, he ended it with a call for more attacks:
“O mujahedeen everywhere, rush and go to make Ramadan a month of disasters for the infidels.”
On June 25 and June 26, ISIS launched a surprise attack in Kobane, Syria, killing around 200 people.
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ISIS continues to shock the world with atrocity killings. Its latest video, filmed in or around Mosul and released by the Nineveh Wilayat, is titled "If You Promised We Came Back." I won't link to it, but I did watch it.
In the 7 minute video, orange-clad prisoners are divided into three groups. Each makes a statement. The first group is put inside a vehicle. An ISIS member fires a grenade missile launcher at the car, blowing it up and setting it on fire. The prisoners burn to death inside the vehicle.
The second group are put in a cage, suspended over water. The cage is lowered and they drown to death. There's a camera underwater filming their painful drowning.[More...]
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Ali Awni al-Harzi, a suspect in the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack, has been killed by a U.S. drone strike in Mosul.
Ali, a Tunisian, was arrested in 2012 for his suspected role in the embassy attack, and freed by Tunisia in January, 2013. [More...]
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Back in December, 2014, Lebanon claimed to have arrested Saja Abdul Hamid al-Dulaimi, the wife or ex-wife of ISIS leader al Baghdadi. She was caught using a fake passport at the border, along with one of her small children.
Lebanon news is now reporting she has just given birth. She was three weeks pregnant when arrested. Her current husband is Kamal Khalaf, a Palestinian.
The baby was born in a military hospital and she and the baby are now at a General Security detention center. [More...]
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An unnamed source in the Joint Terrorism Task Force says Mohamed Emwazi, aka "Jihadi John" is now in Libya.
[A] source with America’s Joint Terrorism Taskforce, which along with the CIA and U.S special forces DEVGRU is hunting Emwazi, believes he has slipped over the border.
“We think it is a tactical move by ISIS to keep Emwazi out of the limelight. “His unmasking by the Press took away the mystery surrounding his ‘bogey man’ persona and though we have targeted him with conventional missiles we have had no confirmation of a successful strike.
I wonder if he's hanging out with the English speaking ISIS beheader in Wilayat Tarabulus (Tripoli) who appears in the video of the killing of Egyptian Coptic Christians on a beach near Sirte.
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