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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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Congress and White House One Step Behind on Syria Rebels

The White House is pushing Congress to vote on on arming the "moderate" Syrian rebels. Repubicans are getting on board, and a vote may happen Tuesday.
If it’s not the Syrian opposition, trained and equipped by the United States, authorized by Congress and the president … then it’ll have to be U.S. troops,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told “Fox News Sunday.” “The president made a decision on that. We’re not going to do that.” The GOP-led House appears most ready to approve the plan.
Do they read the news? Colonel Riad al-Asaad, the leader of the Free Syrian Army, in interviews yesterday said the group will not join the U.S. in its fight against ISIS unless it receives assurance the U.S. will also take out Syrian President Assad. More here. [More...]

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Can Western Governments Stop Their Citizens From Joining Terror Groups?


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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White House: We're At War With ISIS

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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Obama's Speech on ISIS: Live Blog and Reactions

Update: The White House just issued this Fact Statement on its plan to fight ISIS. DOD Secretary Chuck Hagel released this (non-reassuring) statement.

Update: Why Obama's Strategy Has No Chance of Success. See also, Juan Cole.

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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Australia Says Obama Asked It to Send Special Forces to Iraq

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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ISIS Vs. The World

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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Obama's Latest War Authorization Letter and ISIS Update

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.

[More...]

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ISIS: Frogmarch, Killings and Beheadings of Soldiers

Yesterday, ISIS posted photos of captured Syrian soldiers being forced to march across the desert in their underwear, presumably to their deaths. A video (non-violent) is here. Today Reuters reports ISIS released another video showing they were all killed.

Also today, ISIS issued another "blood message" to the U.S. warning it about helping the Kurds. In the video, now gone from You Tube but available elswhere (no links please) it shows a bunch of captured Kurdish soldiers in orange jumpsuits (likely to mimic Guantanamo.) One soldier is then beheaded on camera, while a warning to the U.S. is made about helping the Kurds. This took place in Mosul, in front of the Rahman Mosque.

ISIS also posted a video of it beheading a Lebanese soldier.

CENTCOM announces today it has struck a tank, a humvee, 4 armed vehicles, a construction vehicle and damaged a checkpoint.

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Identifying James Foley's Executioners


(Random photo of unnamed fighter from Tumbler page of Dutch fighter ChechClear.)

British authorities have not named the person standing beside James Foley in the ISIS execution video. They have said they are close to identifying him and refused to give names. On Meet the Press yesterday:

I think we are close. I've been in touch, obviously, in the last day or two with my colleagues at home. We're not yet in a position to say exactly who this is, but there is some very sophisticated voice identification technology and other measures that we have got which should allow us to be very clear about who this person is before very long.

The Sunday Times (UK) reported government officials have told them that security forces say a major suspect is former British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary. Fox news says an unnamed "western intelligence source" has confirmed Bary is the primary suspect. All other media reports seem to be quoting the Sunday Times.

Some news reports say Bary's voice matches up with that of the killer in the video. Other news sources quote different experts who say the voices don't match. [More....]

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James Foley Killing: Knife Switch?

On James Foley, I think it's odd that the knife in the ISIS guy's hands in the execution video doesn't match the one on the ground next to Foley's body after he is killed. And we don't see the ISIS guy actually cutting Foley. Also, Foley doesn't flinch when he puts the knife up to his neck. Could the ISIS guy speaking in the video not be the actual killer, just playing the part for the cameras? They could easily have stopped the tape, and had the real ISIS executioner step in and do the killing. Are authorities searching for one person when they should be looking for two people?

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ISIS' Final Email to James Foley Family: Filled With Threats to America

Here is the final email ISIS sent to the family of journalist James Wright Foley, who was executed this week. As for the reasons for disclosing it:

The Foley family has agreed to release the email from Foley’s captors. GlobalPost has chosen to publish it in full in the interest of transparency and to fully tell Jim's story. We believe the text offers insight into the motivations and tactics of the Islamic State.

The full text of the email is below: [More...]

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U.S. Failed ISIS Raid Took Place in Ukayrishah, Raqqa

The U.S failed attack on July 4 took place at Uribase near Raqqa, at a training facility named the Usama bin Laden camp. ISIS supporters and reporters tweeted it at the time, and a few articles were written about it.

Paradoxy13 :

According to al-Quds soldiers with US & Jordanian insignia dropped from a stealth helo stormed an ISIS training camp in Ukayrishah, #Raqqa

Kjetil Stormark:

BREAKING: Military raid against ISIL camp outside Raqqa in Syria early Friday morning. ISIL claims US involvement.

Cedric LaBrousse

@Paradoxy13 @AuraSalix This is prison where most important prisoners are said to be as Father Paolo and former Raqqa Revol' Council head.

[More...]

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