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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 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 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.
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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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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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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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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 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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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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The CBC has a new interview (you can read it without having to watch a video) with Belgian jihadist tracker Pieter Van Ostaeyen (who I've been reading and quoting for over a year a half.) From the new interview:
Few understand ISIS like Van Ostaeyen. And what he sees now is a mutation in the group, in the rhetoric and the recruiting. He points out that the language is less about Islamic fundamentalism and is increasingly focused on the notion of revenge.
"What they really want … is the clash of civilizations," he says. Revenge for what ISIS claims the West has done to Iraq and Syria. And the more ground ISIS loses there, the more the group lusts for bloodshed in Europe.
He says Western intelligence has failed for the simple reason they have no idea what they are looking for. What they should be looking for now: those with criminal backgrounds, not religious extremists. [More...]
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Abu Firas al-Suri, a longtime al Qaida veteran who relocated from Yemen to Syria in 2012-2013, and became a spokesman for AQ's Syrian branch Jabhat al Nusra, has reportedly been killed in an airstrike in Idlib.
He was very outspoken in his opposition to both ISIS and the United States. It's not entirely clear whose strike killed him (U.S., Russia or Syria.)
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A live press conference with Gen. Carter on Iraq and Syria with the Pentagon is taking place here. Carter says the tide is turning and we've blocked off the main routes between Northern Iraq and Syria. He says we targeted and killed top ISIS leaders.
American forces are there advising and supporting Iraqi. There will be increased support for Iraqis in Mosul. We will advise and enable.Carter and others will be asking Obama to increase the number of U.S. troops going to Iraq to "advise' the Iraqis.
Yet he denies it's a ground troops operation. Denies it's a fundamental shift. Reporters are skeptical and keep asking how this is different from a ground war. It's a pretty permanent position. The U.S. military is directly involved with the Iraqis. This is what we've been doing in the past months and what we'll be doing in the coming months. What started in Ramadi will continue to Mosul. This is our strategy.
He's arguing for an alternative prison to Gitmo saying it's not safe to release Gitmo
A reporter says there are 5,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Carter says 3,800. The difference is in the counting techniques. There's more than 3,800 he admits.
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Police are seeking the man above in connection with the Belgian attacks. They also are trying to catch Laachraoui Najim, aka Soufiane Kayal, a Belgian national, whom they suspect of involvement in the Paris Attacks. Najim was in Syria since 2013. He was the subject of an international arrest warrant since March 18, 2014. (Use google translate.)
ISIS-linked news A'maq News agency reported ISIS has taken credit for the attacks in Belgium. Then ISIS issued its own statement in several languages promising "dark days ahead" for those in countries that aid the Coalition. Here's the Official ISIS statement in French.
Why Belgium? The Guardian explains why Belgium is so vulnerable.
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British ISIS hostage John Cantlie has re-appeared. ISIS released a new video of him criticizing the United States for bombing an ISIS media kiosk in Mosul. He said the U.S. put innocent lives at risk.
The video is short and has no ISIS violence. You can watch it here.
Cantlie was captured with James Foley and has appeared in many ISIS propaganda videos and Dabiq magazine articles, but none in the past year or so. I think his last video was in February, 2015. While there was an article in the November, 2015 issue of Dabiq purportedly authored by him, it isn't clear when it was written. I hope today's video means he is still alive.
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Two days ago, the U.S. said it targeted Georgian ISIS military leader Omar (Umar) al Shishani (originally from the Russian Caucasus) in an airstrike in al-Shadadi, Syria. The U.S. said he was believed to be dead. (Shishani, whose real name is Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, been high on the U.S. designated terrorist list for a while. )
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (which is highly critical of ISIS) yesterday said Shishani was badly injured in the strike but was not killed. He's been transferred to a hospital in Raqqa, where he's being treated by a European jihadist doctor. [More...]
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