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We're bombing Libya again. I say again because many media outlets are erroneously reporting this is the first time. It's not, it's merely the first strike against ISIS in Libya conducted with the approval of the new Government of National Accord in Tripoli.
Previously, there was an airstrike in February, 2015, when the U.S. struck an ISIS training camp in Libya. It's believed there were no civilians at the camp. The U.S. said it targeted and killed ISIS extremist Noureddine Chouchane, linked to the Tunisian beach attacks at Sousse which killed 30 Britons. But Serbia said the U.S. attack killed two of its embassy employees who were being held hostage. The Intercept said evidence supports Serbia's claim. More than 40 people were killed in the strikes. And Libya complained it was not consulted and had not approved.
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Russia has announced that a helicopter carrying five people (2 officers and 3 crew members) was shot down in Aleppo today. It was returning from a "humanitarian" mission.
On August 1, the Russian military transport helicopter Mi-8 was downed by ground fire on the way to the #Hmeymim airbase after delivery of humanitarian aid to the Aleppo city in the #Idlib province. There were 3 crew members and 2 officers of the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria. The fate of the Russian servicemen is being found out.
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I immediately turned to the end to see if there was something written by hostage John Cantlie. There is not.
There are some new themes, such as the West is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. Even if the bombings stop, it says the best the West can hope for is a temporary truce.
See page 30: "Why We Hate You & Why We Fight You." Shorter version: Because you are non-believers. The invasions and bombings are secondary.
ISIS seems intent on baiting the West into an all out war. It doesn't yet seem to grasp that only foolish politicians like Donald Trump and Republicans will fall for that. [More...]
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For at least a week, there have been reports that the leader of Jabhat al Nusra in Syria, Abū Muhammad al-Jūlānī, (sometimes spelled al-Jolani and al-Joulani and al-Golani), is about to announce the group's split from al Qaida.
Yesterday, it happened. Announcements were made by both groups, emphasizing this is not an ideological split. The U.S says it's just a rebranding, PR move. Al Qaida and al Nusra say it's much more than that. [More...]
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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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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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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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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 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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There are several interesting articles on ISIS this week. Here are two so far:
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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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