(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.
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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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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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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.
According to al-Quds soldiers with US & Jordanian insignia dropped from a stealth helo stormed an ISIS training camp in Ukayrishah, #Raqqa
BREAKING: Military raid against ISIL camp outside Raqqa in Syria early Friday morning. ISIL claims US involvement.
@Paradoxy13 @AuraSalix This is prison where most important prisoners are said to be as Father Paolo and former Raqqa Revol' Council head.
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The Defense Department today announced it made a rescue attempt of Americans held by Syria. It was unsuccessful because there were no hostages at the location. Ground "components" were used. Apparently the attempt was made earlier this summer, not today, and commando forces were used. From the press release:
Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary RADM John Kirby on Attempted Rescue Operation
The United States attempted a rescue operation recently to free a number of American hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This operation involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL. Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location.
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President Obama today addressed the beheading of reporter James Wright Foley.
“The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. “We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.”
Here is John Kerry's statement.
And make no mistake: we will continue to confront ISIL wherever it tries to spread its despicable hatred. The world must know that the United States of America will never back down in the face of such evil. ISIL and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed, and those responsible for this heinous, vicious atrocity will be held accountable.
The Defense Department says it conducted 14 strikes today.
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Deputy national security adviser Benjamin J. Rhodes, speaking from Martha's Vineyard today, said Obama will consider proposals to use ground troops to save the Yazidis. He also said the U.S. would not use ground troops in combat in Iraq.
ISIS meanwhile marches on.[More...]
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I really thought these Sunni al Sha'etat (aka Al Sh'etat or Sh’ytat or Shu'aytat) Tribe members in Deir Ezzor, Syria were done for. Their tribe had an agreement with ISIS which it claimed ISIS broke, and they expelled ISIS, killing 9 or 11 ISIS members. ISIS returned with its typical furor, and seized dozens of tribe members, mostly young men. It didn't kill them right away but put them in jail. ISIS released these (non-violent) images of their capture. (The towns were Abu Hamam, Kashkiyeh and Ghranij, in Deir Ezzor.)
There were unofficial reports the men were going to face a Sharia Court for treason, and that the penalty for treason is death, or the hacking off of an arm and a leg on opposite sides of the body.
Today, ISIS announced they were spared by order of the Khalifah, and given the chance to repent and pledge allegiance to ISIS. The photo announcement is here. They look much happier now. (And cleaner, maybe ISIS let them take showers and gave them fresh clothes.)[More...]
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President Obama is asking Congress for $500 million to arm and train "moderate" rebels in Syria.
An Obama national security aide said the $500 million should be used to help Syrian rebels topple Assad, while at the same time defeating militants who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
“As we have said many times before, Assad has lost all legitimacy to rule Syria and must go,” Bernadette Meehan, a National Security Council spokeswoman, told McClatchy. “The request to Congress reflects our assessment of the time needed to launch such a program and our view that building the capacity of Syrians for stabilization and counterterrorism operations will be necessary both during the (current) conflict and after a negotiated settlement.”
This is just throwing money down the drain. [More...]
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President Obama is about to address the nation on Syria. Here's a thread to discuss.
Update: Shorter version is Obama is asking Congress to delay a vote.
Obama lays out the evidence Assad's regime used chemical weapons. He says if we don't act, Assad will not hesitate to do it again. Other dictators will try to obtain chemical weapons, as will terrorist groups. Turkey Jordan and Israel are at risk.
He determined in the national security interest of the U.S. to respond by a targeted military strike. He knows it won't be popular, after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The purpose is deterring and degrading Assad's chemical capability.
Even though he has the authority to order the strike himself, he took the debate to Congress. [More...]
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The leaders of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee have agreed on a compromise Syria resolution. (Full text here.) It's not quite what Obama wanted, but it is expected to go to a committee vote tomorrow.
The bill limits the authorization to 60 days, with an option for an additional 30-day deadline, and makes clear there would be no boots on the ground, the sources said.
I'm not in favor of the strike. Seems like a hollow gesture and a slippery slope -- for us. Give our leaders an inch, and they'll find a way to go for the mile.
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President Obama today said he has asked Congress to vote on launching a strike on Syria when it returns Sept. 9. John Boehner says the vote will be the week of September 9.
Obama said he believes he has the authority to act without congressional approval, but asked lawmakers to weigh in and shoulder the responsibility for the decision.
“The country will be stronger if we take this course,” Obama said. “We should have this debate.”
Yesterday, Obama released this 4 page summary of a U.S. report detailing intelligence on the suspected use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government on Aug. 21. [More...]
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Here are some details of the planned military strike on Syria. The UK is expected to assist the U.S. Tomahawk missiles are likely.
The blitz may last 48 hours.
The missiles would be unleashed to destroy Syrian President Bashar Assad’s command and control facilities, weapons delivery centres, intelligence bases and military training camps.
A former Syrian military official who has since defected says chemical weapons stockpiles are unlikely to be targeted. [More...]
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Israel has not yet officially confirmed the news, but everyone else, from the BBC to Al Jazeera to the New York Times, is reporting that Israel launched an airstrike in Syria. An Israeli spokesman says:
“Israel is determined to prevent the transfer of chemical weapons or other game-changing weaponry by the Syrian regime to terrorists, specially to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”
U.S. officials on the other hand say:
US officials say the Israeli air strike happened overnight Thursday into Friday, but the aircraft did not enter Syrian airspace. [More...]
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The State Department issued a notice today that the U.S. Embassy in Syria has closed and all employees have left the country.
The recent surge in violence, including bombings in Damascus on December 23 and January 6, has raised serious concerns that our Embassy is not sufficiently protected from armed attack. We, along with several other diplomatic missions, conveyed our security concerns to the Syrian Government but the regime failed to respond adequately.
The violence in Syria continues to escalate.
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