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Unconfirmed: ISIS Member Publicly Executes His Mother

Multiple news sources are reporting that ISIS militant Ali Saqr al Qasem, on orders from ISIS, publicly shot and killed his mother outside the post office where she worked in Raqqa.

The reason: Al-Qasem had reported his mother for apostasy -- she had encouraged him to leave Raqqa with her. ISIS then ordered him to kill her.

True? I'm dubious, but I suppose it's possible. The source is the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.

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al Baghdadi Releases New Audio Speech

Update: Thanks to Pieter Van Ostaeyen for publishing the English translation of ISIS leader al Baghdadi's speech.

ISIS leader al Baghdadi released a new audio speech today. I haven't seen a full English translation yet (a French one is available.)

In it, he threatens Israel:

"With the help of Allah, We are getting closer to you every day," al-Baghdadi told his Israeli listeners. "The Israelis will soon see us in Palestine. This is no longer a war of the crusaders against us. The entire world is fighting us right now."

The ISIS leader continued, "The Israelis thought that we forgot Palestine and that they had distracted us from it. That is not the case. We have not forgotten Palestine for one moment."

This is the first public audio speech since May. I don't think he's been seen since mid-2014 when he announced the Caliphate. As to when this message was made, Haaretz says it was after the beginning of the Russian airstrikes.[More....]

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Iraqi Forces Move in On ISIS in Ramadi

Iraqi forces have been moving in on ISIS in Ramadi for 2 weeks. Only 6,00 to 1,000 ISIS fighters remained at the start of the new offensive. Yesterday Iraqi Forces reportedly moved into the town center. The U.S. says there are now only 250 - 350 ISIS fighters remaining. What about civilians?

Iraqi airplanes dropped leaflets on Sunday urging residents of Ramadi to evacuate within 72 hours, warning of an impending operation and suggesting two evacuation routes. Colonel Warren estimated that thousands or even tens of thousands of civilians were still in the city; hundreds of thousands have fled.

The U.S. says Ramadi will be cleared of ISIS in 2 to 3 days. Then what? [More...}

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McCain and Graham Call for 10k U.S. Troops in Raqqa

John McCain and Lindsay Graham have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal calling for the U.S. to put 10,000 ground troops in Raqqa, Syria, to defeat ISIS. And then they want more troops in Iraq, Libya, and anywhere else ISIS is gaining a foothold in the region.

Shorter version: The world is our colony, let's start acting like it.

Missing from their op-ed: Not a single mention of al Qaida or al Nusra in Syria or elsewhere. What are they, chopped liver? Or are al Qaida and al Nusra now okay in their book because on occasion they side with the (non-existent) Syrian rebels we're training and equipping? [More...]

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President Obama Speaks to Nation on ISIS

Update: Best line of Obama's speech: "Freedom is More Powerful Than Fear."

Shorter version: No boots on the ground (with a moving definition of what constitutes boots -- boots now seems limited to hand to hand combat, not troops on ground.) "What we should not do" is allow ourselves to "be drawn into long and costly ground war in Syria and Iraq."

We can expect more kill missions (whatever happened to the capture part? It seems gone.) Asks Congress to pass authorization for use of force against ISIS. Just a few references to assault rifles. Asks Congress to pass a bill preventing those on the no-fly list from buying them. We can't stop every mass killer but we can make it harder for them to kill.

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Over-Reacting to ISIS Threat

From Foreign Policy Magazine: Ten truths about terrorism:

  • No. 1: We can’t keep the bad guys out.
  • No. 2: The threat is already inside.
  • No. 3: More surveillance won’t get rid of terrorism.
  • No. 4: Defeating the Islamic State won’t make terrorism go away.
  • No. 5: Terrorism still remains a relatively minor threat, statistically speaking.

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NY Times Runs Gun Control Editorial on Front Page

For the first time since the 1920's, the New York Times is featuring an editorial on the front page of the paper. It calls for gun control.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection. America’s elected leaders offer prayers for gun victims and then, callously and without fear of consequence, reject the most basic restrictions on weapons of mass killing, as they did on Thursday. They distract us with arguments about the word terrorism. Let’s be clear: These spree killings are all, in their own ways, acts of terrorism.

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Foreign Fighters and ISIS: What the West Should be Doing

Tuesday, the U.N. Security Council’s counter-terrorism committee held a conference at which several experts spoke about ISIS and foreign fighters. I found this media recap of the presentation of Scott Atran from the Centre for Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Oxford University very interesting. (He is highly credentialed, and his research in the field includes interviews with captured ISIS fighters and still fighting al Nusra fighters.)

He debunks several of the memes currently making the rounds as to ISIS' intentions and strategy, and the reasons young Western recruits find ISIS so attractive. He also explains why the U.S. counter-messaging campaign has been such a failure.[More...]

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Fear vs. Facts

Despite the rabid hype by Republicans, we are not in danger of getting killed by terrorists.

Consider, for instance, that since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have been no more likely to die at the hands of terrorists than being crushed to death by unstable televisions and furniture. Meanwhile, in the time it has taken you to read until this point, at least one American has died from a heart attack. Within the hour, a fellow citizen will have died from skin cancer. Roughly five minutes after that, a military veteran will commit suicide. And by the time you turn the lights off to sleep this evening, somewhere around 100 Americans will have died throughout the day in vehicular accidents – the equivalent of “a plane full of people crashing, killing everyone on board, every single day.”

Daniel Kahneman, professor emeritus at Princeton University, has observed that “[e]ven in countries that have been targets of intensive terror campaigns, such as Israel, the weekly number of casualties almost never [comes] close to the number of traffic deaths.”

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Dabiq #12: A Soda Can and John Cantlie

ISIS has released Dabiq #12, the 12th issue of its glossy English magazine. (no links to magazine in comments please.) It says a soda can was used to take down the Russian Plane.

There's an article by John Cantlie, "Shift and Paradigm, Part 2". He refers to events in June and July, so at least he was still alive then, and hopefully is today.

He writes about the future course of ISIS: [More...]

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Who Did the U.S. Kill In Libya Airstrikes?

The Libya Herald reports Abu Nabil Al-Anbari, was not killed in a U.S. airstrike near Derna in Libya yesterday.

More importantly, how can the U.S. say al-Anbari is probably the Isis leader featured in the Egyptian Coptic Christian killing video from February, "A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross?"

The leader in the video spoke English with an American accent. At the time, experts said if he was not American, he spent a lot of time in the U.S. Nabil al-Anbari is Iraqi and a former police officer.

al-Furqān Media put out two videos featuring the English speaking killer. The first was the video of the Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded on the beach which is attributed to Wilayat Tarabulus (Tripoli.) The second, a few months later, depicts the slaughter of Ethiopian Coptic Christians (described here) and is attributed to Wilayat Barqa and Wilayat Fezzan. (I think he also may be in this video by the group, released in September, 2015, at about 14 minutes in, speaking in Arabic, but that's just my opinion.) [More...]

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U.S. Announces (Non-Combat) Boots on Ground in Syria

Obama today authorizes the first boots on the ground in Syria. The White House still claims they won't be in a combat role.

On CNN today, a Republican called that distinction false, saying the dividing line is whether our troops will be in harm's way and because these troops will be battling ISIS, they will be in harm's way and there will be casualties. At least some Democrats are voicing disapproval. [More...]

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Obama's Advisors Want to Step Up War Against ISIS

President Obama's advisers are promoting the greater use of special forces and stepping up air fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The debate over the proposed steps, which would for the first time position a limited number of Special Operations forces on the ground in Syria and put U.S. advisers closer to the firefights in Iraq, comes as Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter presses the military to deliver new options for greater military involvement in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

Apparently, the Pentagon agrees we've hit a "stalemate" in the battle against ISIS. [More...]

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Syria: Assad, Not ISIS or AQ, Is the Problem

Charles Lister's article today on our epic misreading of the problem in Syria is getting tons of praise from analysts on Twitter. Shorter version: The U.S. is walking into an abyss on Syria. Some quotes:

[T]he US and its European partners remain dangerously disconnected from Syria's realities. The threat posed by IS has become a convenient obsession, while the more complex dynamics in the rest of the country appear all but ignored and misunderstood.

... IS remains a potent force in Syria and must be countered, but it will not be marching on Damascus anytime soon, contrary to some uninformed fear mongering. Al-Qaeda also poses a pressing and more long-term threat, perhaps more so than has been acknowledged. But at the end of the day, the root cause of the entire Syrian crisis is Assad and his regime.

Our efforts in Syria to date: "To label the mission a catastrophic failure would be a generous assessment." [More...]

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U.S. Trained Rebel Defector Gave Equipment to al Nusra

First, the U.S. admitted equipment it provided to the Syrian Rebels it was training ended up with al Nusra, the Al Qaida affiliated group. But it denied knowing or training the person who gave it to them.

The Daily Beast says Centcom then admitted a little more:

The Pentagon, responding to reports in The Daily Beast that a specific U.S.-trained commander had defected along with most of his unit to a group affiliated with al Qaeda, will now concede that an unnamed commander who actually had been rejected by the U.S. as a possible trainee for the fight against the self-proclaimed Islamic State had somehow acquired access to U.S. equipment that he then handed over to al Qaeda affiliates.

But it gets worse. [More...]

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