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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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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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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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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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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ISIS has been fairly quiet about its plans lately. Today, it released a new recruitment type video (non-violent). It's called "Squadrons of My State." You can view it here.
The chirons for the video use the phrases "Alive in Baghdad First" and "May Allah preserve them alive as knights in Baghdad First" while showing a blown upphoto of Baghdad and the old Sheraton Ishtar hotel. The hotel was the site of several bombings in 2004 and 2010. It was also a favorite of foreign journalists and businessman. [More...]
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Source: Rayat al Tawheed Tumbler
Western nations are trying to stop citizens from leaving to fight with groups like ISIS.
What do counter-terror officials propose?
Counterterrorism officials recommend that countries share data to detect the recruitment of foreign fighters, monitor online communications more aggressively, share airline passenger information in advance, and criminalize travel abroad to fight.
How will they limit the surveillance to those who may want to join ISIS as opposed to regular citizens? My answer: They can't. So the rest of us should get used to to to the idea of ramped up intrusions on our civil liberties.
Most of the recruits are young -- in their 20's. Arresting them on their return, as some countries are proposing, or as they are about to leave, and giving them long jail sentences is a bad idea. Prison will further radicalize them. They will become more marginalized and feel more oppressed.
I doubt this will prevent any young adults from wanting to join them. [More...]
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Update: Steven Sotloff's parents are also now saying they were threatened with prosecution if they tried to raise the ransom money. One crime they were told they could be charged with: Material support of terrorism. This is completely unacceptable. I think it's time to out the officials who made the threats. (How is it John Kerry didn't know about this? See his response below.
Yesterday on CNN, John Kerry refused to call the fight against ISIS a war:
“We're engaged in a counterterrorism operation of a significant order," said Kerry, speaking from Saudi Arabia. "I think 'war' is the wrong reference term with respect to that, but obviously it involves kinetic military action."
Today, White House Spokesman John Earnest pulled no such punches.
"In the same way that we are at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates around the globe, we are at war with ISIL."
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Update: I think this was a mostly emotional speech. I also think it was risky to be so insulting to ISIS, when they are still holding so many Western hostages, including a female American aid worker.
I disagree with Obama that our years of efforts have been successful in Yemen and Somalia. We took out a few leaders, so what? They just appoint new ones. (It's no different than our ineffective approach to the drug cartels.) AQAP and al-Shabbab have not been diminished. The state of affairs in Yemen and Somalia ranges from unstable to chaotic. Al Qaida central just opened a new branch in the Indian sub-continent.
Obama's strategy has no timeline, he gave no indication of what would be considered a "success" so we would have an end point. I don't even think he referenced the Peshmerga or Turkey as a coalition partner. He said we would work to shut off the point of entry for recruits, but how, if Turkey isn't part of the effort? [More...]
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The West Australian reports:
The US wants Australia to commit special forces soldiers to an international mission to destroy Islamic State militants rampaging through northern Iraq.
Australia has already indicated it would offer jet fighters to a US-led coalition but The West Australian understands that Washington believes Australia's most valuable contribution to the mission would be Special Air Service Regiment troops and Commandos.
The request is said to have been made yesterday, after Australia arrested someone for providing money to a different insurgent group, Jabat-al-Nusra, which has been fighting ISIS: [More...]
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It's ISIS against the world as the countdown begins to Obama's speech on how the U.S. will fight ISIS. Enough details have leaked to already know the basics:
- We will arm and train Syrian rebels like the Free Syrian Army. Training is likely to be in Saudi Arabia, Jordan (and may already be underway.) Saudi Arabia confirmed its support today in a phone call with Obama. Harry Reid has asked Congress to vote on authorizing money for it. Republicans are giving him a hard time. [More...]
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John Kerry addressed the ISIS crisis at the NATO summit conference today, saying:
“They’re an ambitious, avowed, genocidal, territorial-grabbing, caliphate-desiring quasi-state with an irregular army, and leaving them in some capacity intact anywhere would leave a cancer in place that will ultimately come back to haunt us.”
But he and other officials made clear that at the moment, any ground combat troops would come from either Iraqi security forces and Kurdish fighters in Iraq, or moderate Syrian rebels opposed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. “Obviously I think that’s a red line for everybody here: no boots on the ground,” Mr. Kerry said.
So it's not just the U.S. ruling out ground forces, it's all of the western countries. His full statement is here.
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The Pentagon announced today Obama has authorized sending 350 more military personnel to Baghdad to secure the embassy.
This builds upon previous embassy security deployments announced on June 15 and June 30 and will bring the total forces responsible for augmenting diplomatic security in Iraq up to approximately 820.
The additional joint forces will come from within the U.S. Central Command area of operations and will include a headquarters element, medical personnel, associated helicopters, and an air liaison team.
In all, 405 U.S. military personnel will be sent to Baghdad to provide a more robust and sustainable security presence to help the Department of State continue their critical mission.
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President Obama has written Congress explaining his decision to conduct airstrikes on Amerli:
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
As I reported on August 8 and 17, 2014, U.S. Armed Forces have conducted targeted airstrikes in Iraq for the limited purposes of stopping the advance on Erbil by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), supporting civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar, and supporting operations by Iraqi forces to recapture the Mosul Dam. U.S. Armed Forces have also provided humanitarian assistance to the civilians trapped on Mount Sinjar.
On August 28, 2014, I further authorized U.S. Armed Forces to conduct targeted airstrikes in support of an operation to deliver humanitarian assistance to civilians in the town of Amirli, Iraq, which is surrounded and besieged by ISIL. Pursuant to this authorization, on August 30, 2014, U.S. military forces commenced targeted airstrike operations in the vicinity of Amirli, Iraq. These additional operations will be limited in their scope and duration as necessary to address this emerging humanitarian crisis and protect the civilians trapped in Amirli.
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Via Reuters, we have been spending $7.5 million a day in Iraq since mid-June. That's a total to date of about $532 million.
U.S. military operations against Islamic State in Iraq have cost an average of $7.5 million per day since they began in mid-June, the Pentagon said on Friday, a figure that means the department has spent more than $500 million on the conflict.
Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, told a briefing the expense of U.S. operations against Islamic State in Iraq had varied since U.S. forces became involved on June 16 but on average "it's costing us about $7.5 million per day."
Reuters says according to analysts, the U.S. has been spending $1.3 billion per week on Afghanistan.
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