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State Dept Issues World Wide Travel Alert

The State Department has issued a world-wide travel alert for U.S. travelers. You can read it here. It expires in February.

There's no mention of an imminent specific threat. And it's not just travel:

U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowed places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.

Not is it directed solely to ISIS: [More...]

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Brussels on Lockdown, Imminent and Specific Terror Threat

Brussels looks like a militarized war zone. It's on lockdown, the Metro has been closed. Authorities say there is a specific and immediate threat of a "Paris Style" attack.

The still-at-large alleged Paris bomber, Saleh Abdeslam, 26. He's believed to be in Brussels, trying to make his way back to Syria. There are reports he has physically disguised his appearance and using a new name, Yassine Baghli. Some friends of his brother say he contacted people on Skype trying to get back to Syria. [More...]

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French Raid to catch Attack Suspects in Saint Denis

Update: Belgian and other intelligence officials say Abaaoud is dead. The French prosecutor says he's not among those arrested.

French police raided an apartmment in the St. Denis area where attack suspect Abdelhamid Abaaoud (aka Abdul Hamid Aba Oud,) and some others were believed to be holed up. Reports are that seven people were arrested (some nearby the apartment), and two or three people were killed. While Charlie Hebdo reported Abaaoud was arrested , the Daily Mail (best photos) and other media report that has not been confirmed.

'Hasna', a female cousin of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, blew herself up when the cops arrived at the building. Some police were injured and a police dog was blown up. [More...]

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At Least Four Prior ISIS Videos Threatening France

In November, 2014, just days after the mass beheadings of Syrian pilots by Jihadi John and 16 or 18 other fighters, in which Peter Kassig's severed head appears, French ISIS members released a video, What Are You Waiting For?" It reportedly served as one of the inspirations for Almedy Coulibaly's Charlie Hebdo attacks. You can watch a copy with English translations here. I wrote about it at length here. SITE described it here and the Daily Mail here.


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ISIS Claims Responsibility for Paris Attacks

ISIS has released an official statement (English audio here) claiming responsibility for the Paris attacks and explaining why.

On the attackers: One of the attackers came through Greece with refugees. Three are from the Molenbeek neighborhood of Brussels. [More...]

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Boston Terror Suspect's First Target Revealed

CNN reports that Usaamah Abdullah Rahim's first target was activist Pamela Geller, who staged the Garland, TX rally. (No link due to CNN's autoplay video on the article.) He later changed his mind and decided to target local police, apparently intending to behead one or more of them.

Rahim and his friend Wright's conversations were recorded. Here's the FBI Affidavit for the arrest of Wright. The third person with them is not named. According to the affidavit, Rahim planned to behead someone out of state and then decided police were an easier target.

After Garland, Pamela Geller asked for police protection. I don't think taxpayers should have to fund her protection. She brought this on herself. Let her organization pay.

Please keep your comments free of name-calling and personal attacks on Geller.

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Tweeter Shami Witness Charged With Terror Crimes in India

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, aka @ShamiWitness, has been charged with numerous terror crimes for his favorable tweeting about ISIS. He was arrested in December. Most of the charges carry a maximum of seven years in prison.

Joint Commissioner of Police, M. Chandrashekhar said Mehdi was charged with eight sections of the Indian penal Code (IPC) including unlawful activities, conspiracy, supporting a terrorist organisation, waging war against the State, sedition and promoting enmity. The charge-sheet, containing 36,986 pages, was submitted to the Court on Monday.

The charges were filed by the Bengaluru police in the Metropolitan Magistrate Court. I haven't been able to find the actual chargesheet, but more descriptions are here and here. [More...]

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U.S. Releases Documents Seized From Bin Laden Raid

The U.S. today released documents seized during the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Osama bin Laden was fixated on attacking U.S. targets and pressured al Qaeda groups to heal local rivalries and focus on that cause, according to documents the United States says were seized in bin Laden's hideout in Pakistan and released on Wednesday.

The documents are available here.

The release contains two sections. The first is a list of non-classified, English-language material found in and around the compound. The second is a selection of now-declassified documents.

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Sy Hersh vs. the White House on Bin Laden Kill Mission

Seymour Hersh's version of the targeted killing of Osama bin Laden couldn't be more different from that of the White House.

[Hersh] claims that Bin Laden’s burial at sea never happened, that Bin Laden was an invalid when the SEALs raided the compound and killed him, and that there was no firefight at all during the SEAL raid. Additionally, Hersh’s account says that the ISI captured and set bin Laden up in Abbottabad in the first place, to use him as “leverage” in the country’s dealings with al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Hersh's version appears here in the London Review of Books.[More...]

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The Mess in Yemen

The Guardian has a very good account of what's happening in Yemen among the various factions. (For a backgrounder on the Houthis, see this Guardian analysis.)

Many are saying Yemen is on the brink of an all-out civil war, which would have repercussions for the entire region, and as in Libya, give ISIS a toehold to grab onto and spread. The Guardian says:

The fear is that the Houthi advance will drive a fresh wave of militarisation and radicalisation in the Sunni-majority Yemeni heartland, acting as a recruiter for jihadis. Western intelligence already considers the local al-Qaida faction – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – the world’s most potent franchise, a growing threat seeking to exploit regional turmoil to widen its scope.


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"What ISIS Really Wants" : A Compelling Read

Graeme Wood has a very long but compelling article in The Atlantic What ISIS Really Wants. It is about ISIS' ideology and methodology. It's too long to hit all the key points, so I will just mention a few.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal. [More....]

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Canada Set to Approve More Surveillance Authority

Canada is unwisely following in the footsteps of the United States and about to pass legislation increasing surveillance authority for intelligence purposes in the name of the War on Terror.

Under the new law, which will be presented in Parliament, CSIS will be able to block financial transactions, stop people from traveling abroad to join extremist groups and intercept material that can be used in an attack. It would need to obtain a judicial warrant first.

...The new law will also let police detain potential terror suspects for longer periods without charge, the reports said, and make it easier to track and monitor suspects.

Act in haste, repent at leisure. Once you give power to the Government, it rarely gives it back.

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Belgian Arms Dealer Admits Selling Weapons Used in Paris Attacks

A Belgian arms dealer and "known underworld figure" turned himself into authorities today. He admitted supplying several weapons to Amedi Coulibaly which were used in the Paris attacks.

Federal police, who searched the suspect’s apartment, found papers linking him to a transaction with Amedy Coulibaly, the jihadist who murdered four Jewish men and held others hostage at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in east Paris on Friday.

According to the local press, the man sold Coulibaly the Skorpion submachine guns he used in the attack, as well as the rocket propelled grenade launcher and the Kalashnikov automatic assault rifles that Said and Cherif Kouachi used to perpetrate the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo. The weapons were purchased near the Midi railway station in downtown Brussels for less than 5,000 euros, according to the reports.

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AQAP Claims Credit for Charlie Hebdo Attacks

AQAP has issued a statement taking credit for the Charlie Hebdo killings. The reason for the operaton: Their insults to the Prophet.

We in the Organization of Qa'idatul Jihad in the Arabian Peninsula claim responsibility for this operation as a vengeance for the Messenger of Allah. We clarify to the ummah that the one who chose the target, laid the plan nd financed the operation, is the leadership of the organization.

It says by coincidence, Coulibaly had another operation set at the same time.[More...]

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Hostage Interview: Coulibaly Said He Had Nothing Against Jews

One issue regarding the Kosher market attacks by Coulibaly continues to have conflicting information: his motive for picking the Kosher market. In his swan song video and his conversations recorded when his phone had not hung up after talking to a news station, he doesn't mention animosity towards Jews as a motive. His anger is directed at the French Government.

Now there's an interview with one of the hostages who he was talking to him during the incident, trying to empathize with him. The hostage says:

Google translated version: [More...]

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