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Reading Too Much Into ISIS Losses, Too Little Into Turkey

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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Death Toll Tops 80 in Bastille Day Attack in Nice

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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New ISIS Video From Mosul With Hostage John Cantlie


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 Releases Video Outlining Its Structure

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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Sunday ISIS Readiing

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Bangladesh Attack: 28 Killed, Mostly Foreigners

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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India Still Waiting on Shami Witness Evidence

Mehdi Masroor Biswas, the prolific Tweeter, ISIS news disseminator and aggregator, aka @ShamiWitness, has been incarcerated in India since December, 2014. He wasn't charged until June, 2015. And he still hasn't been tried. In May, the Indian media reported his trial might begin in June. June is just about gone. What's the latest?

Despite claiming they had a good case, it appears India is struggling with proving the charges. India is just now seeking "letters rogatory" for Google and Facebook to provide information on Shami Witness' email accounts. (Here's a description of "letters rogatory"). India sought Google's help directly in November, 20015 and has yet to receive a response. Will Letters Rogatory make a difference?

Out of more than 100,000 tweets, police say they have found one in which he gave out information about an open border crossing between Turkey and Syria. I explained here in detail why I don't think that tweet shows criminal intent. [More...]

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ISIS Releases Video Praising Orlando Attacks

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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ISIS Releases Nasheed Video "Blood for Blood"

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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Mission Creep : 5,000 U.S. Troops in Iraq

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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Air Strike Kills al Nusra Spokesman in Syria

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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More Raids in Brussels

At least 13 police raids took place in Brussels today. 9 were arrested, 5 have already been released.

I've seen four official ISIS videos (I'm not linking to them) of the Belgian attacks released in the last two days. One common theme is there is more to come.

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ISIS Takes Credit for Belgium, Republicans Pander to Fear

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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ISIS Releases New John Cantlie Video

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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Syrian Rights Group Says Omar Shishani Not Killed in Strike

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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