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Hostage John Cantlie Messages: Episode 2 Released

Al Furqan Media has released the second episode of British hostage John Cantlie's video series today. You can view it here (If You Tube removes it, you can get it here.)

The topic is President Obama's speech on 9/11 against ISIS. These propaganda videos are becoming redundant. What's new in this one? A flat-out denial of Obama's claim that ISIS kills innocent women and children. He says it's an undeniable fact that ISIS did not kill the Yazidi women and children of Mosul and Sinjar (whom he refers to as Christian). He says ISIS does not regard the Shia as Muslims and thinks they are worse than Americans. He says Isis regards the Shia as apostates claiming to be Muslim while worshiping the dead.

After disparaging the ground forces Obama says will be assembled from reconstituted Iraqi soldiers and syrian rebels, he ends with, "For their part, the Islamic State states they welcome meeting Obama's under-construction army."

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Views on ISIS From the Middle East

I'm always interested in how countries halfway around the world say they would address a problem here. I'm not talking about legal problems since laws in other countries vary too much, but in hands-on tackling of a problem that affects society. Like ISIS.

Here's three articles I recommend, all from the same paper in the Middle East. Two are op-ed's and one is an editorial.

The bottom line for all three is that military force cannot solve the problem of ISIS. They come up with other suggestions, which read like something I might have written. If the answer is so obvious to them (and me), why is our Government so obtuse? War is usually never the answer. Links to the articles belos: [More...]

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Al Nusra Threatens Retaliation for U.S. and Allies' Air Strikes

Well, that didn't take long. Jabhat al Nusra, al Qaida's branch in Syria, has been fighting with ISIS for months, refusing to pledge allegiance to the self-declared Caliphate State. But now that the U.S. has targeted it in air strikes, resulting in the loss of its headquarters, a leader or two and some civilians, the gap between the two groups is quickly closing. Nusra spokesman Abu Firas al-Suri published a video statement threatening retaliation against the U.S. and any allies involved in the bombing.

So far, ISIS is not weakened by the strikes. It is fighting hard in Kobane against the Syrian Kurds, who are still trying to flee to Turkey. Turkey's President is now saying Turkey might provide military support to the U.S. led coalition, but it doesn't seem to mean boots on the ground fighting ISIS. [More...]

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Hagel: ISIS War Costing $7 to $10 Million a Day

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at a press conference today the Pentagon is spending $7 to $10 million a day in the fight against ISIS.

"We're generally spending roughly, since this effort started, $7 million to $10 million a day. That's being funded out of OCO, overseas contingency operations," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at a Friday press conference. Commonly referred to as war funds, the money isn't subject to congressional budget caps.

He said the Pentagon will ask Congress for more funding.

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New Additions to the Designated Terror List

Yesterday, the U.S. added additional suspected terrorists and groups on its designated terror list. More than one are connected to kidnappings and beheadings.

Among the new names I recognize: Amru al-Absi

As of mid-July 2014, Amru al-Absi was selected as ISIL’s provincial leader for Homs, Syria, in the Aleppo region. As a principal leader of ISIL in Syria, he has been in charge of kidnappings.

I wrote about him here, but check the source articles I relied on, here and here. [More...]

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FBI Says It Has Identified ISIS Killer in Beheading Videos

FBI director James Comey says the U.S. has identified the black clad executioner of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines. It is not releasing the information, hoping to capture or kill him. The FBI is still working identifying the two English speakers in the Flames of War video, believed to be American or Canadian.

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French Hostage in Algeria Beheaded After Demands Rejected

Islamic Militants in Algeria have beheaded French hostage Herve Gourde, a tourist and mountain guide, after France said it would not meet its demands. France's response:

As grave as the situation is, we will give in to no blackmail, no pressure, no ultimatum," he said. "No terrorist group can in any way influence France's position, will, and freedom."

The group in Algeria is called Jund al-Khilafa. It recently pledged allegiance to ISIS.

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New Video Message From Hostage John Cantlie

Here's the latest video message from ISIS hostage John Cantlie. Watch now, because You Tube keeps taking it down. He quotes a lot of U.S. officials and argues Obama was caught off guard and the air strikes won't succeed.

He says Iran is running Iraq, and the appointment of "a new puppet" in Iraq is an important piece of the puzzle of America's Gulf War III.

He points out the pre-911 Afghans are already back in control of large parts of Afhanistan. He says not since Vietnam, have we witnessed such a potential mess in the making. [More...]

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US Airstrikes on ISIS in Raqqa

Update: Here's a You Tube video of civilians being pulled out of the rubble (you can't see faces.) Multiple reports on Twitter say ISIS was not around, the strikes hit a Jabhat al Nusra headquarters in Kafrdiyan, and a munitions factory near near Sarmada. There are also reports of dead JaN militants in Aleppo. The communications tower was hit so there aren't any tweets coming from official ISIS sources yet. ISIS has been anticipating the strikes in Raqqa for days and moving their heavy equipment elsewhere. A lot of fighters also went to fight the Kurds in Kobane. They aren't stupid, so I'm taking the news reports of massive ISIS casualties with more than a grain of salt. There are also reports and a photo of a plane being shot down, but it does not seem not to be a U.S. plane. No confirmation yet.

Original Post

The U.S. and partners launched airstrikes in Raqqa, Syria tonight, where ISIS has its headquarters. The photo above is a shot from them. There are reports civilians were killed. Power just came back on after a 2 hour outage. [More...]

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ISIS Declares War, Stirs the Lone Wolf Pot

ISIS has just declared the equivalent of World War III. The announcement comes in the form of a long-awaited statement by ISIS official spokesman Shaykh Abū Muhammad al-‘Adnānī ash-Shāmī.

Adnani calls on Muslims everywhere to attack Americans and Europeans wherever they find them. You can find the English version of the ten page statement here. But be forewarned, it's not a pleasant read. [More...]

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ISIS Release of Turkish Diplomats Raises Questions

ISIS released 49 hostages Saturday. They are Turkish diplomatic officials, family members and three Iraqi workers who have been held since June when they were seized at the Turkish Embassy in Mosul.

Turkey says no ransom was paid and the rescue was not a military operation. It says it knew where the hostages were kept through electronic tracking and intelligence.

The Turkish General Counsel, one of the hostages, says they were almost killed by U.S. airstrikes, which killed two of their guards outside and wounded some inside. [More...]

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Saturday Open Thread

ISIS released the full version of its latest propaganda video yesterday, "Flames of War." It's available on You Tube here.[new link] The speaker narrating the video sounds American. This struck me as an (unintentionally) funny line, which they attribute to al Qaida's Abu Musab al Zarqawi:

Our last open thread is full, here's another one, all topics welcome.

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ISIS: Major Change of Hostage Media Strategy

British reporter John Cantlie was first captured by extremists in Syria in July, 2012. Here he is in a new video, calmly sitting at a table dressed in the tell-tale orange detainee garb, telling the public this is the first of a series of programs from him. There's no man in black, no desert in the background. He says he will expose the truth. He begins by saying the U.K. and U.S.A. are the only countries that refuse to pay ransom demands. He also asks why, after two disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Government is so keen on getting into yet another unwinnable conflict, this time with the Islamic State.

He says, "I know what you're thinking" -- that he's being forced to do this video and there's a gun to his head. He says, it's true, he is a prisoner. But "seeing as I've been abandoned by my government and my fate now lies in the hands of the Islamic state, I've got nothing to lose. Maybe I will live and maybe I will die."

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Obama: No Ground Troops For Iraq

President Obama addressed the military in Tampa today.

"I want to be clear. The American forces that have been deployed to Iraq do not and will not have a combat mission," Obama said.

"We will train and equip our partners. We will advise them and we will assist them. We will lead a broad coalition of countries who have a stake in this fight."

Also today, Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi ruled out foreign ground troops in Iraq. [More...]

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Pentagon May Ask for Boots on the Ground in Iraq

At a congressional hearing today, General Martin Dempsey would not rule out sending ground troops to Iraq.

“My view at this point is that this coalition is the appropriate way forward. I believe that will prove true,” he said. “But if it fails to be true, and if there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces.”

The plan so far, according to Dempsey and Secretary Hagel: [More...]

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