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Jordan Frees Al Qaida Spiritual Advisor

When we last left off with Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (spiritual mentor to Al Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, bio here), he had just been jailed in Jordan for communicating with terrorists while working with U.S. lawyer Stanley Cohen to negotiate with Maqdisi's enemy ISIS to free Peter Kassig. The F.B.I. was aware of the effort, and paid for Cohen and his translator's travel. (Cohen began serving his own federal prison sentence on tax charges this month.)

Today Jordan confirmed it released Maqdisi two days ago. [More...]

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Violence, Vengence and Retribution Serve No One

ISIS burned a Jordanian pilot alive, claiming its actions are justified by the pilot having flown missions for Jordan in which Syrian civilians, including children, were killed. It views the brutal murder as justified, under the Islamic equivalent of "an eye for an eye."

IS believes in a principle known as "qisas" which, in its broadest terms, is the law of equal retaliation. Put another way, it is the Islamic equivalent of "lex talionis", or the doctrine of an eye for an eye. Within Islamic law qisas typically relates to cases of murder, manslaughter, or acts involving physical mutilation (such as the loss of limbs) and creates a framework for victims (or their families) to seek retributive justice.


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Jordan Executes Female Prisoner ISIS Wanted Released

Update: Jordan has executed Sajida al-Rishawi and another al Qaida prisoner, Ziad al-Karbouli (aka Abu Houthiyfah), who was also sentenced to death. Are more coming executions coming?

There are reports a Jordanian member of al-Qaida, Muammar Ahmad Yusuf Al-Jaghbir, was also moved to the execution facility. Al-Jaghbir was initially sentenced to death, but in 2009, his sentenced was changed to 15 years. On December 25, when reports first surfaced of an exchange of al Qaida prisoners with Jordan, al-Jahbir was mentioned, along with al-Rashawi and al-Karouli as those who could be released.

Would Jordan execute a prisoner (and Jordanian citizen) whose death sentence was commuted? That doesn't sit right, especially when al-Jaqhbir is not a member of ISIS. [More...]

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ISIS Executes Kenji Goto

ISIS released its official video today in which "Jihadi John", the black-clad ISIS executioner, beheads Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. (I'm not linking to the video and please do not post link in comments.)

The video does not show the actual moment of beheading, but it does show Goto's head laying on his body afterwards.

There is no mention of the Jordanian pilot in the video.

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Deadline Passes Again, No Prisoner Swap

Update: No swap or release occurred. It should be mentioned that ISIS never said it would free the Jordanian pilot if Jordan released Sajida al-Rishawi. ISIS only said the pilot wouldn't be killed. Big difference. ISIS only offered to swap the Japanese journalist for al-Rishawi. ISIS said both would be killed if Jordan didn't comply by sunset. I suspect ISIS will carry out its threat, and kill both. (The pilot may already be dead, since there have been no photos of him since around the time of his capture.)

It was Jordan that added a condition that the release of al-Rishawi would have to be in exchange for its pilot (a swap), and demanded proof of life, before proceeding further. (Jordanian announcement here.) But that was never ISIS' offer. It only proposed a swap of the Japanese journalist. [More...]

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Shami Witness: Police Identify Potentially Criminal Tweet

The Indian press reports today on the evidence that will be used against Shami Witness. A key piece will be a tweet by Shami in response to repeated requests by a would-be militant recruit using the handle @TalabAlHaqq for information on how to make the crossing from Turkey to Syria. He had been waiting for months in Turkey. [More....]

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"Jihadi John" Threatens Japan

The black clad executioner known only as "Jihadi John" is back. Today ISIS released a video with a Message to Japan. The video is in English. Jihadi John says as a result of Japan pledging $200 million in non-military aid to assist in the fight against ISIS, it is demanding a ransom of $200 million, one for each of the two Japanese hostages.

One of the hostages, Haruna Yukawa, was shown being interrogated in a video last August. The second, Kenji Goto, is a journalist.

At the end of the video, Jihadi John addresses the Japanese people. He tells them they have 72 hours to convince their government to pay. "Otherwise, this knife will become your nightmare." [More...]

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ISIS Shows Off Its Next Generation of Killers

Update: 1/14/15: The fighter standing next to the child soldier who kills the Russian and Kazakh intel agents is Abu Saad al-Dagfhistani. He was killed in Kobane today according to ISIS accounts.

Al Hayat Media, an official media arm of the Islamic State, has a new video (I'm not linking to it) in which two captured Russian/Kazakh intelligence agents confess and are shot and killed. What's unusual is that the killer is about 10 years old. The video shows him prepare to kill the men and then proceed to shoot them in the head. The final screenshot in the video is of the child I wrote about here in an earlier video who was one of many children from Kazakhstan training in a camp in Syria. That child appears to be about 10 years old and looks and sounds female. S/he says to the camera, "We're going to kill you O kuffar...we're going to slaughter you."


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New ISIS Video With John Cantlie in Mosul, Iraq

Just before New Years, I wondered what happened to John Cantlie.

We have the answer. He's still alive. Here is his latest video giving a tour of Mosul, Iraq, which he says is the "absolute heartland" of the Caliphate and home to 2 million people." He says he sees millions of people going about their daily business after years of oppression.

Towards the end, he is driving an ISIS police motorcycle through the streets of Mosul, with a big grin and an ISIS member sitting behind him: [More...]

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Shami Witness's Detention Extended Until Jan. 15

Shami Witness, the tweeter from India who posted ISIS news updates with favorable comments, went to court yesterday. His police detention is over, and he has been remanded to judicial custody until Jan. 15.

Bengaluru City Police Commissioner M.N. Reddi told reporters: "During interrogation, we figured that he (Biswas) was in direct touch with ISIS fighters. We have gathered evidence to show that he supported IS. Apart from proactively tweeting for the group, his messages prove that he encouraged youths to join the organisation."

The police also said that their investigation into his role in working as a propagandist was complete. "He cooperated during interrogation and never refused to share any information that we sought. We will seek his custody if required in the coming days based on inputs from the National Investigation Agency," a police source said.

Another police source says: [More...]

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ISIS End of Year Wrap: Where Are They Now?

ISIS is undoubtedly the story of the year, in my opinion. Taking a look back, I wonder, where are these ISIS newsmakers now?

"Jihadi John"

ISIS military superstar Abu Wahib


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ISIS Releases Issue 6 of Dabiq Magazine

ISIS has released issue No. 6 of Dabiq Magazine. You can read it here. Shorter version:

The Muslims will continue to defy the kāfir war machine, flanking the crusaders on their own streets and bringing the war back to their own soil.

I don't think it's as interesting as prior issues, despite the graphic photo of the captured Jordanian pilot wearing an orange jumpsuit. [More...]

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A New ISIS Website With Official Releases

I wasn't the only one spending hours on Wordpress this week. So was ISIS (or a government agency pretending to be ISIS.) It has a newly remodeled website containing official releases of reports and videos from their various states, in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Algeria, etc. According to the twitter feed for the website, it went live on December 17. (The website is here, but don't click through the entries unless your are prepared to see a lot of violence. I'm writing about it because of the design, not the content. Also, it's in Arabic, so you'll need to use Google translate.)

The site designer chose the Dynamic News theme. There's a free Lite version and a Pro version, and they have the Lite version (no purchase funds to trace.)

The site has an FAQ page. Ir doesn't have comments, but it does have a contact page and they encourage communication, although the form requires an e-mail address. (Maybe it's not really an ISIS creation, but a sting site by some government agency to get information on would be ISIS recruits?)[More...]

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ISIS and the Jordanian Pilot Hostage

The father of 1st Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, the Jordanian pilot captured by ISIS, has issued a plea for his return.

"I direct a message to our generous brothers of the Islamic State in Syria: to host my son, the pilot Mu'ath, with generous hospitality," he said. "I ask God that their hearts are gathered together with love, and that he is returned to his family, wife and mother."

"We are all Muslims," he added.

Here are very large-size (non-violent) photos of his capture. What are the chances the pilot will not be killed? [More...]

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Indian Police: Shami Witness Just a Cheerleader

Indian police, with the help of Twitter, have now gone through Shami Witness' (Mehdi Masroor Biswas)list of 17,000 plus followers and his tweets. What have they found?

Sources privy to the investigation, meanwhile, admitted that sleuths are yet to find anything incendiary, which involves Mehdi directly. An officer said they haven't come across any tweet in which Mehdi asks for specific acts of terrorism to be committed. "He is more of a cheerleader. He supported ISIS activities, shared messages backing the outfit and egged on the cadres, saying what they were doing was right," he said.

Out of his 17,000 followers, police were interested in about 50 of them. They sent those 50 emails, asking the following questions: [More...]

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