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The Atlantic has a new interview with President Obama on ISIS, Iraq and Syria. He doesn't think "we're losing." He calls Ramadi a "tactical setback."
Yesterday it released Dabiq Issue 9. (John Cantlie provides the last article, the first sign in a while he's still alive.) You can read it here.
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ABC News has been reporting for a while that U.S. officials believe Abu Sayyaf and his wife have information on deceased hostage Kayla Mueller. (I already wrote about all this here.) A congressman today confirmed this is being investigated.
CBS says the raid was months in the planning.
I'm not buying this new identity. It's another name that has not appeared anywhere as far as I can tell.[More...]
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The fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State, despite intensified American airstrikes in recent weeks in a bid to save the city, represented the biggest victory so far this year for the extremist group, which has declared a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the vast areas of Syria and Iraq that it controls. The fall of Ramadi also laid bare the failed strategy of the Iraqi government, which had announced last month a new offensive to retake Anbar Province, a vast desert region in the west of which Ramadi is the capital.
“The city has fallen,” said Muhannad Haimour, the spokesman for Anbar’s governor. Iraq's response today is to vote to send in the Iranian backed Shi'a militia.
ISIS also gained a huge cache of weapons the fleeing Army left behind, that had been sent by the U.S. and Russia to Baghdad. [More...]
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Update: The Syrians say it launched a raid at the same place -- the al Omar oil fields in Deir Ezzor -- and killed ISIS' oil minister. The Syrians say he is a Saudi (not Tunisian as the U.S. claims) named Abu al-Taym al-Saudi,.
So both the Syrians and the U.S. launched independent raids at the same time and place and both killed an IS financial leader? This is not making sense.
The name Abu Sayyaf has rarely been mentioned in Western reports about the extremist group and he is not known to be among terrorists for whom the U.S. has offered a bounty. The name was not known to counterterrorism officials who study IS and does not appear in reports compiled by think tanks and others examining the group's hierarchy.
Now there are reports he is also known as "Abu Muhammad al Iraqi" and "Abd al Ghani."[More...]
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Ramadi controls the only significant routes to Baghdad from Syria and Jordan, a vital means of resupply for ISIS. Ramadi sits on the Euphrates River; the dam in Ramadi and the reservoir south of the city regulate usage of the river’s water for a significant portion of southern Iraq. Ramadi is the biggest population center in the Sunni heartland and is the seat of the powerful Dulaymi tribe, a major part of the Iraqi Sunni population ISIS needs support from if it wants to be a nation-state.... Ramadi is important because it means including the Sunnis in the governance of Iraq
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It strikes me as a pep talk and foreign recruitment effort. There's remarkably little about the West. It's mostly a shout-out to fighters in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Khorasan, Indonesia, the Caucasus and Africa and a call for them to join the war. [More...]
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ISIS denies the claim by Radio Iran that al Baghdadi is dead, as a result of injuries he sustained in a U.S. airstrike last November.
Another network played a video of the convoy being hit, claiming Baghdadi is in the video, but others say the man in the video is Seyfullakh Shishani, and the video was in February, 2014.
The media has been wrong multiple times about ISIS leaders getting killed, from Omar Shishani to Abu Wahib. How many times did Ilyas Kashmiri die? At least 4, if I recall. He was becoming like that Saturday night skit,"Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead."
In any event, I don't think his passing would make any difference to ISIS. They plan for things like this.
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In a fairly confusing 29 minute video (I'm not providing the link), ISIS militants in Libya executed several Ethiopian Coptic Christians. Here's Reuter's article on the killings.
Why is it confusing? There appear to be two sets of killings, one at a beach and one in an un-scenic field. The beach killings are similar to those a few months ago of Egyptian Coptic Christians. At first I thought it was a flashback, but the killers are wearing different clothes, and the victims are different. There's no indication of when the men in the field or the second beach group were killed.
The White House has issued this statement.
The leader in this video is the same American sounding English speaker in the Egyptian Coptic video. [More...]
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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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