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ISIS has released a lot of videos the past few days. In one, Race Towards Good (link removed),ISIS takes us inside a training camp for Kazakh children. They are purposely indoctrinated from a young age (There's even a toddler holding a toy gun.) It shows a class teaching very young males how to write Arabic and the kids receiving receiving fighter training. There's also an adult class on how to be a sniper.
It's fascinating to watch, but horrifying that they would encourage young kids to kill those who do not share their religion. [Update: Photos removed at the request of the Government of Kazakhstan]
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In 2006, the U.S. proudly announced that al Qaida leader al Musab al-Zarqawi had been killed in a U.S. airstrike in Iraq.
Now there are claims he was murdered after surviving the airstrike. A former U.S. Army Ranger who writes using the name Utlendr at a well-known website written by veterans of the Special Forces called Special Operations Forces Situation Report (Sofrep), wrote an article Friday, How Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Really Met His Fate. The author, who uses the name Utlendr, according to The Australian, was part of the team that worked with Delta Forces to locate al Zarqawi's safe house in order to bomb it. The U.S. gave two official statements in 2006 on al Zarqawi's death. In the first, it said he was killed in the bombing. In the second, it said he was critically injured in the bombing and died an hour later.
Utlendr now writes that al Zarqawi was indeed badly injured in the bombing. But, he says, Iraqi forces had loaded him into an ambulance to take him to the hospital. The Delta Forces ambushed the ambulance.
Here's where it gets interesting. [More...]
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ISIS has released Issue #5 of its English publication, Dabiq Magazine. You can read it here.
There's nothing in it about Peter Kassig or other ISIS beheadings. It's mostly about the other groups which recently announced their allegiance to ISIS leader al Baghdadi. There's also an article about its new currency and about Kobane. And a four page essay by hostage John Cantlie, titled "If I were U.S. President Today," in which he again criticizes the policy of the U.S. and its allies. [More...]
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ISIS has released Episode 6 of prisoner John Cantlie's "Lend Me Your Ears" video messages. In it, he discusses the failed U.S. rescue attempt of James Foley. He excoriates the U.S. and British governments for not negotiating with ISIS, for threatening James Foley's mother with prosecution if she participated in ransom negotiations, and for abandoning him and the other foreign hostages recently executed.
He says ISIS was holding six foreign hostages, presumably referring to Foley, Sotloff, Haines, Henning, Kassig and himself. He doesn't mention the female U.S. aid worker who reportedly is being held by ISIS. Hopefully, she's just being held in a different place.
Cantlie blasts the hypocrisy, arrogance and lies of the U.S. and Great Britain, saying they treated his life and those of the other English and American hostages like a "roll of the dice" while the other hostages all went home. He is not angry at ISIS.
You can watch the video here, but it probably won't stay up long.
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The Syrian Arab Army has an official Facebook page in English. Yesterday it posted a response to the ISIS video showing the beheading of 16 of its members. [link removed]
The statement acknowledges that army personnel have beheaded ISIS fighters in the past, but says those were individual acts by a few bad apples. The army, it insists, acts with honor and dignity.
It then says the Army won't be beheading captured ISIS fighters in the future. But, it continues, ISIS fighters will beg to be beheaded, because the Army will not treat them as human beings. [More...]
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When Iraq announced last week that airstrikes had killed and wounded some ISIS leaders in Mosul and al Qaim, possibly including ISIS Caliph al-Baghdadi, articles began to re-surface identifying ISIS leaders.
Most of the information cited seems to come from a disclosure in June, 2014, days before ISIS took Mosul. Iraqi forces arrested an ISIS member named Abu Hajjar. Under interrogation, he caved, and not only told him about the planned takeover of Mosul, but gave up the location of the safe house being used to plan it. Iraqi police intelligence went out to safe house, and the raid ended with the shooting death of ISIS military commander Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi who was in charge of the operation. During a subsequent search of the safe house and al-Bilawi and Hajjar's homes, Iraqi police recovered 160 thumb drives with incredibly detailed information about ISIS, including financial information, military operations information and even the names of its leaders and fighters. Intelligence agencies have been pouring over the data ever since. (It didn't prevent the takeover of Mosul, which went off as planned, mostly because the Iraq forces ran off.)
Yesterday, as I was re-reading reports on ISIS leadership, I came across an interesting article, "The Islamic State Prisoner and the Intelligence Chief" published November 1, a week before the recent strikes that supposedly hit ISIS leaders, by Paul McGeogh, chief foreign correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, who just days before, had interviewed the still incarcerated Abu Hajjar at a secure Baghdad jail facility. [More...]
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All day Saturday, ISIS supporters were teasing the release of a new video with English translations. They finally released it sometime after midnight. It's called "Although The Disbelievers Dislike It" and is 15 1/2 minutes long. I've watched it, and will not link to it, so please don't include a link in comments. I found a copy on Daily Motion. Here's my recap:[More...]
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ISIS leader al-Baghadi has released an audio and written version of a new speech, titled, "Even if the Disbelievers Believe Such." The English written version is here.
In the speech, he refers to Obama's decision to send 1,500 more advisers to Iraq. Assuming he is the speaker, it appears he is alive.
Obama who has ordered the deployment of 1,500 additional soldiers under the claim that they are advisors because the Crusaders' airstrikes and constant bombardment - day and night - upon the positions of the Islamic State have not prevented its advance, nor weakened its resolve.
He also urges more beheadings of the enemy: [More...]
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President Obama wants Congress to fund his request for additional training and weapons in Iraq. What will he have to give up to get it, from those in Congress and at the Pentagon who think his plan isn't hawkish enough? Without Congressional approval, apparently there will be no funding for arming and training since executive authority doesn't cover that. That may not be easy:
Some Democrats have said they’re concerned that U.S. forces will become mired in ground combat in Iraq, despite Obama’s pledge that won’t happen. Some Republicans say Obama should take more aggressive action, such as moving more quickly to arm non-Islamic State rebels in Syria and enforcing a no-fly zone over Syria near the Turkish border.
From news reports, it sounds like Obama is under pressure to modify his "Iraq first" policy, under which helping the rebels fight Assad takes a back seat to defeating ISIS in Iraq. Obama is asking his advisers to review U.S. policy on Syria. But the two cited unnamed sources seem to say different things:
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Iraq's Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Salim Al-Jabour, traveled to the Ain Asad military base in Anbar and gave a speech to the assembled tribal leaders and members. Shorter version: We gave you the arms you asked for, now do your part.
"We have honored our promise by providing you with arms as we are also confident of your abilities to free Anbar within days," Al-Jabouri said in a special conference held at Ain Asad military base in Anbar. "We are also confident of your solidity and resilience in using these weapons to defend yourselves, your country, and the world from this evil group, and avenge the innocent who were killed by IS, particularly victims of Al-Bunimr tribe and others.
50 U.S. military personnnel arrived at the Ain Asad base in Anbar yesterday. They are not there to fight ISIS, but to assess the facility's capabilities for future "assist and training" operations. They do have the means to defend themselves, if attacked.
The U.S. says it is not arming the tribes in Anbar: [More...]
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The Daily Mail reports Britain's elite members of the Special Air Services (SAS) have been sent to the Middle East to locate the black-clad ISIS executioner in the hostage killing videos of British citizens David Haines and Alan Henning (who also appeared in execution videos of Americans John Foley and Steven Sotloff, and most recently threatened Peter Kassig.) It is reportedly the SAS' largest mission since 9/11.
In August, the British press reported the formation of a joint task force of the SAS and US Navy Seals to take out ISIS leadership.
Elite British and US special forces troops are forming a hunter killer unit called Task Force Black – its orders: “Smash the Islamic State.”
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Personally, I tend to doubt al Baghdadi travels in a convoy of ten trucks, especially knowing the U.S. is conducting air strikes. Also, as I mention in my original post below, al Qaim is 170 miles from Mosul. These were two separate events, and there's no evidence other than the original dubious report (updated here)that al Baghdadi or his chief deputy or Anbar military commanders were present, taken out or injured.)
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At an Interpol conference this week, outgoing Chief Ron Noble said European ISIS recruits are facing stepped up airport and bus station checks in Turkey, making it harder to get to Syria. Their solution: Book a cruise to Turkey, and exit at a port close to the Syrian border, like the coastal town of Izmet, and from there make their way into Syria.
Interpol is calling for the expansion of its I-Checkit program in the private sector. It already gets airline passenger information. Now it is is hoping to get passenger and customer information from cruise operators, banks, hotels and others. [More...]
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President Obama has authorized 1,500 additional military personnel to go to Iraq and advise and train the Iraqi forces and Peshmerga in the fight against ISIS. He will ask Congress to approve for $5.6 billion in overseas contingency funds and $1.6 million to train Iraqi and Pershmerga forces.
Two groups will be going. The first will "advise and assist" Iraqi forces at the brigade level from command operations centers near Baghdad and Erbil. The second will do the military training. 9 Iraqi army and 3 Peshmerga brigades will be trained in northern, western and southern Iraq. Many of the new personnel will be deployed to the Anbar province.
Here is the Pentagon's statement. It confirms the personnel will act in a "non-combat role." It is an expansion of our "advise and assist mission" and the beginning of the training initiative. It doesn't mention Syria.
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In the New York Times, Peter Theo Curtis, aka Theo Padnos, provides a detailed and fascinating account of his 2 years as an Al Nusra hostage in Syria. He is now home in Vermont, having been released in August, days after the James Foley execution, when Qatar finalized negotiations with al Nusra for his release, reportedly after Qatar paid a big ransom (which Qatar denies.) al Nusra is every bit as brutal as ISIS, and their only differences, according to Padnos, are over which one will control Syria's oil fields.
Padnos' account of his abuse and captivity is very compelling reading. So are his timeline and description of the Free Syrian Army "moderate rebels" and al Nusra's second in command, Abu Mariya (or Maria) al Qahtani, which is what I focus on below: [More...]
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