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ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Sep 08, 2020 10:55 pm

Al-Hol's ISIS-linked families
not forcibly taken to Roj camp


Authorities in Western Kurdistan have begun the transfer of 395 "less dangerous" Islamic State-linked families from a notorious camp in northeast Syria to another facility, a Kurdish official has told Rudaw English – but he denied reports that some of the women and children have been transferred by force

Families are being moved from al-Hol to Roj camp some 200 kilometers away, Sheikhmous Ahmed, head of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES) office for internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugees told Rudaw English on Tuesday, with 76 families already transferred.

“We began the process on August 15. We did it in batches. We have transferred four batches, so 76 families so far,” Ahmed said, with Roj camp "expanded and prepared" to accommodate for the influx of families.

The detainees being transferred, most of whom are children, are of "many nationalities," Ahmed said. He did not specify what nationalities they held.

Al-Hol residents were chosen for transfer after relevant authorities monitoring their behavior deemed them to be “less dangerous” than other residents, the Kurdish official said. At Roj, families will each have their own tent and "won't have to wear the black niqab anymore,” the official said.

Al-Hol is home to 68,000 people, most whom are linked to ISIS. About 43,000 of the residents of the camp are children. Before the transfers began, the much smaller Roj camp was home to around 4,000 residents.

The Australia-based The Age news outlet claimed Tuesday that five Australian nationals and 14 of their children held at al-Hol were forcibly taken to Roj at midnight on Sunday night, with "some barefoot and in handcuffs, after their tents were raided and searched and their bedding destroyed.”

News of forced transfers was "disturbing", Mat Tinkler, director of international programs at Save the Children Australia said on Twitter, "with 10 Aussie kids reportedly snatched from their tents, mothers handcuffed, belongings destroyed & no understanding of their whereabouts or wellbeing.” Tinkler echoed calls made by humanitarian organisations and relatives of ISIS-linked detainees for the repatriation of these “innocent kids.”

Ahmed denied that anyone had been taken from al-Hol by force, instead pointing to schisms between residents still loyal to ISIS and those who have turned their back on the caliphate for the need to transfer people "securely."

ISIS-affiliated women “see al-Hol Camp as their small state and they have courts and security forces," Ahmed told Rudaw English. "They create obstacles [for others to leave the camp]. They beat those families who want to leave the camp, because they believe that if someone leaves the camp they have left their caliphate. So we don't take people out by force, but securely."

Transfers are done at night and at quiet times in the day “for security reasons”, as ISIS-loyal women could use the opportunity to “create chaos”, Ahmed said.

Ahmed challenged international organizations to visit Roj to determine whether transfers were forced or not.

Asked if any of those transferred from al-Hol were Australian nationals, the Kurdish official said that “they could be", but most were from countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.

Most of al-Hol's residents were taken to the camp from Baghouz, the last ISIS bastion in Syria, by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in March 2019. Kurdish and US officials have repeatedly called on the international community to repatriate their nationals, but few countries have responded to the call.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/08092020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Sep 09, 2020 11:22 pm

The secret plan to reboot ISIS

The terrorist group is defeated and routed. But its backup plan survives

t all began on October 27, 2019. Rumour was, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, was dead. Nothing was confirmed, but already the jihadist world online was thrumming with excitement and trepidation.

“I was walking through an airport,” Moustafa Ayad tells me. “Jet-lagged out of my mind.” A deputy director of the counter-extremism think tank Institute of Strategic Dialogue (ISD), Ayad tries to stay on top of the constant struggles and skirmishes, retreats and resurgences between Isis and their many enemies online. That day, as he scrolled through his phone, a blitz of Isis propaganda stared back at him. The digital Jihad was raising a dirge to Baghdadi on Twitter.

Flitting from account to pro-ISIS account, Ayad noticed something strange. Some accounts carried short, discreet links, not within their tweets, but nestled in their biographies. He clicked.

The link, he realised, was not quite like any other he’d ever followed before. On his phone, Ayad saw folder after folder of meticulously catalogued terrorist content. “I thought it was a joke,” Ayad says. “Some kind of scam.” In the echoing marbled expanse of Dubai International Airport, on public Wi-Fi, in a Starbucks queue, he had stumbled upon a gigantic, sprawling cache of ISIS material.

He clicked on a PowerPoint presentation, one of countless now in front of him. “Al Qaeda Airlines”, it said: a case study of the mechanics of hijacking planes, making your own chloroform, and the cell structure needed to organise a coordinated terrorist attack. Just then, a dim tannoy announced his flight.

Over the weeks that followed, Ayad and his colleagues at the ISD began their journey through the cache.

At first glance, the cache looks like a bunch of files on DropBox – its colour palette an on-brand ISIS black-and-white, with a roster of ordinary folders. But the first thing you notice is the size. Its 4,000 folders hold over a terabyte and a half of multimedia multilingual content, spanning Arabic, English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Bangla, Turkish, and Pashto. “It’s a blueprint for terrorism, complete with footnotes” Ayad tells me. “It’s everything anyone with an inclination for violence would need to carry out an attack.”

The cache’s content is a blend of the official products of Isis itself with those of often more obscure precursors, such as the Tawhid wal-Jihad Group, who fought coalition forces in Iraq, and the umbrella organisation of other insurgent groups, Majlis Shura al-Mujahidin. A small amount of it – just a few per cent by size – captures in screeds and sermons the ideas of key ideologues of Isis itself. The key personality in the “Fatwas over the Airwaves” folder, for instance, is Turki al Banali, a Bahraini cleric-turned-recruiter who in each episode desperately gives the core concepts of Salafi Jihadism an ISIS-friendly spin.

Much of the stash, however, simply portrays daily life within ISIS, back when the terrorist group still controlled a chunk of territory sitting astride Syria and Iraq. There are school curricula covering the six core subjects that, some estimates believe, were once taught to 130,000 children: English, PE, Arabic, Koranic Studies, Geography & History and a subject called “’ideology”, a course of indoctrination in ISIS’s party lines expounding on the death and destruction awaiting all those who strayed outside of them. It is a mix of the banal and the horrifying – conjugating verbs and killing the infidels, where early readers learn that “S is for sniper” and “G is for grenade”.

There are mobile apps that teach Arabic by firing mortars at US soldiers. Al Qaeda airlines – the presentation Ayad first saw – is a four-part PowerPoint series with corresponding videos that looks at various attacks including 7/7 and the attack by the “shoe bomber” Richard Reid. An endless cascade of documents, presentations, infographics, print publications, magazines, and educational materials paint a rich picture of life under Isis that is in equal parts humdrum and horrifying.

There are “photo stories”, where Isis photographers meditate on everything from war spoils and prisoners to dentists and doctors under Isis rule. One commemorates a road recently fallen under Isis control, with a series of celebratory captions adorning photos of the road trailing off into a desolate landscape. There are also post-mortem reports on ISIS’s mistakes, successes and strategies. Slides on something called “Operation Haemorrhage”, for instance, explain the strategy of inflicting death on the West through a thousand cuts; “with smaller but more frequent operations. The aim is to bleed the enemy to death.”

But authorities will be most concerned about the “Mujahid's Bag’”. That is the name of a large folder of the cache, which brings together training materials on urban warfare, weaponry, strategy, chemical production, and bomb manufacturing, as well as evading and deceiving security services both online and offline.

An illustrated guide entitled “200 Tips”, provides would-be attackers with knowledge on hiding weapons, creating rudimentary explosives, disabling surveillance, wound-dressing, and martial arts. This, of course, reflects how ISIS’s own training and organisation have been shattered after Mosul, Raqqa and their other urban centres were toppled one by one throughout 2017 and 2018.

As their territory shrunk, they started relying much more on self-appointed fighters who may need to self-school in asymmetrical conflict. There are videos on chloroform development, slides on the creation of poison from apricots, and the relative merits and demerits of certain kinds of explosive.

There is little in this storage drive that people immersed in this world could not find elsewhere. The same beheading videos and scenes of death are depressingly available online. Bomb-making manuals and how-to-terror guides are squirrelled away in other archives and stores that ISIS’s adherents have created.

“Over the years, we have come across many caches of jihadist content - it is actually a staple of the jihadist media operation to have these archives online” says Mina al-Lami, an online Jihadism specialist at BBC Monitoring, a branch of the broadcaster that observes and analyses the global mass media. But “this cache stands out in terms of the size, the amount of the data stored on it, the range of the material and the fact that it's simply been resilient online”.

Stretching deep into the history of radical Islamism, following the twists of fortunes of Isis, it seemed an attempt to store, protect, and treasure the collective memory of a state that didn’t exist anymore. To build a digital monument of a departed reality. But crucially none of this is in the past tense. It continues today.

Ayad disclosed his find to the Metropolitan Police in November 2019, and to the New York Counter-terrorism Prosecutor’s Office shortly after.

The Met acknowledges they have received the referral from the Institute of Strategic Dialogue,. “We do not discuss specific referrals,” they say. “However, every single referral made to the CTIRU (Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit) of which there are thousands every year – is assessed by specialist officers and appropriate action is taken. Where material does breach UK terrorism laws, the unit will take steps to get it removed by the host website or platform.

In the 12 months May 2018 to April 2019 alone, the CTIRU secured the removal of in excess of 8,000 links to online terrorist content.” The US Attorney's office for the Eastern District of New York declined to comment.

After Ayad’s reports, the cache remained available. It even continued to grow. “Following it turned into a bit of an obsession,” Ayad says. “I’ve watched the shape of it change. The style and design of it change. I can see the folders move.” Now that they were on the inside, Ayad and his colleagues could watch and track all the various attempts to proselytise the storage’s content to the outside world, and keep its message alive.

“This cache exists in a very large, vibrant and active jihadist media landscape” al-Lami explains. At the heart of this effort is a bot set up on Telegram. It sat in a public yet discreet channel, catering to the insiders of Isis’s online propaganda efforts. Like so many things in this world, its existence is passed hand to hand across a web of encrypted chat applications. “Do you want an account?” the bot would ask (in Arabic), once someone arrives. And when prompted, it would generate specific links to the documents in the storage.

These links were the key. “They meant we could track who was sharing what folder and where,” Ayad says. By watching where online they appeared, he could set up a live stakeout of the attempts Isis supporters were making to try to keep their social media presence alive.

Then there are the Twitter accounts featuring links to the cache in their bios, or sometimes even embedded in images. Digital mayflies, these accounts are lucky to survive for a day in the face of Twitter’s enforcement. Isis hijack accounts and try to automatically create new ones at scale, maintaining a constantly regenerating, constantly squished presence on the platform. On Facebook, Ayad found a scattering of micro-networks, small clusters of accounts probably compromised and hijacked by Isis supporters, sometimes used to pump out material related to the cache.

Beyond social media, the cache is also woven into the surviving Isis ecosystem on the open web. One site is a kind of Jihadi Netflix, says Ayad. “It has any of the videos you want. Attack videos, executions, notable speeches.” The site itinerantly bounces around from domain to domain on the internet. Wherever it is, the interface neatly shows metrics for each of the videos. And there, in the comments section, are links to the cache.

Then there is the innocuously named “Muslim News” – which brings together all of Isis’s official content from its once-expansive media operation, which reported on its battlefield successes, speeches, newsletters. There’s a website that brings together the back catalogue of ISIS’ radio station, called Anfal, or war spoils.

Taken together, the efforts to disseminate the cache amount to an advertising campaign of modest but persistent success. According to the traffic statistics platform Similar Web, the storage enjoys around 10,000 unique visitors a month. Whoever they are, it is clear that the cache isn’t the most eye-catching part of this ecosystem. It isn’t the most user-friendly, nor does it have the best graphics. It’s a storage drive, albeit one that blends the unique horrors and brutalities of that fallen regime with the dry, folder-based nature of an archive.

Enormous efforts have been made both by governments and the technology giants to clear Isis off of their platforms, and they face a much more hostile environment online than they did, say, in 2015. Yet counter-terrorism experts, officials, and the tech giants all complain that fighting terrorists online is like a game of whackamole. You hit one part of it, and it pops up somewhere else; before you’ve even raised the mallet, it’s popped up somewhere else too.

“What's really striking is just how easy it is for extremists to spread their propaganda in such an unprecedented way, to an unprecedented number of people” says Sara Khan, who leads the Commission for Countering Extremism, a UK government agency. “As soon as you take down one piece of streaming content or a cache or any material that's been uploaded onto web archives, for example, you find another hundreds gone up. And it's just this constant battle that we're having: the current way of doing this work is just not sustainable.”

Even as everything else moves, is shut down, replenished and rebranded, this corpus of documents stands as a stable resource at the centre. It is how propagandists store, seed, and share content – a core from which they can sally forth to Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other online thoroughfares where they might reach fresh eyeballs. But this isn’t just about day-to-day promotion. Isis’s trove of documents seems to represent something vaster.

The cache had been added to for years but really began in earnest in 2017, as ISIS was swept from cities and towns across their former territory: Mosul, then Raqqa, finally Baghouz. Defeat after defeat had chased the militants out of their strongholds. This was exactly when that patch of digital territory became fuller and fuller.

The cache exists as a kind of back-up drive for the so-called Islamic State, a time capsule capturing the moment when Isis stood at the peak of its power, and now monumentalising that moment at a time when that power has been undercut.

Backing up your state isn’t an idea that begins or ends with ISIS. A world away, the small Baltic nation of Estonia has also had to contemplate its own demise too. Passed around like a poker chip over the course of its history, Estonia emerged back into independence at the end of the Cold War. Toomas Ilves was one of its early presidents, and he knew that the key to its competitiveness, even survival, was to embrace the digital world.

Estonia pushed service after service, function after function of government onto digital platforms. They digitised the court system, medical prescriptions, and created an e-ambulance service. Pets are digitally registered on the pet registry, houses on the digital land registry. In 2005, Estonia became the first country in the world to allow online voting nationwide. An e- or an i- was put in front of everything: i-Voting, e-Tax, e-Business, e-Ticket, e-School, e-Governance.

All of this led Estonia to two inevitable conclusions. The first was that residency didn’t have to have anything to do with geography. And so in 2014, e-residency was born. For 100 Euros, you could become an e-resident able to access business, use banking, and declare taxes. You do not have to live in Estonia – you don’t even have to have visited Estonia – to work and pay taxes under it.

The second conclusion was that the state itself didn’t necessarily have to be tied to geography either. In 2017, Estonia set up the world’s first “data embassy”. A fortified server closet in Luxembourg, it is technically – as an embassy – on Estonian soil. The point of that server was to ensure “data continuity” in the event of either a crippling cyber attack or a literal, on-the-ground invasion. For the first time in its history, if Estonia were invaded, the state could be rebooted.

Rather than a data closet in Luxembourg, Isis uses a piece of software called Nextcloud. Developed by a German company and with its roots firmly in the open-source movement, Nextcloud is freely available for anyone to download and use, allowing its users to synchronise files across a group in a way that avoids any centralised hosting or control. The control and privacy that this kind of software gives is important to lots of people - from Government ministries and democracy activists to proscribed terrorist organisations.

Nextcloud is software; it is neither a service nor platform in the way that, say, Facebook or Google are, and so not responsible for content that they do not host. This is the brave world of decentralisation: there isn’t a tech giant to pick up the phone and yell at. (Nextcloud declined to comment for this story.)

Like any storage drive, the cache can be copied, and fragments of it are passed across a series of new, old, niche, and cloud-based storage services. Digital territory is far easier to hold and harder to capture than any of its geographic analogues. Decentralisation, federation, and user-control are the key selling-points of a wave of new services that hope to answer their user’s privacy concerns and offer something different from the centralised behemoths of Silicon Valley.

Of course, Isis’s backup has nothing of the cleverness of Estonia’s digitisation of state services. It is just a storage drive, and to say that a storage drive can constitute statehood is a stretch. On the other hand states and pseudo-states can find ways of reproducing some of their form and function – indeed their existence itself – in non-geographic spaces found online.

Isis can continue to offer “‘services”’ – propaganda, support, tutorials – to people across the world that consider themselves its citizens, thanks to its hold of digital territory, even after losing its geographic foothold.

Within the final weeks of this investigation, as this piece was being put together, Moustafa and his team then found another cache, this time by al Qaeda, using another piece of decentralised cloud storage software, OwnCloud – whose German manufacturer shares a founder with Nextcloud. And then another cache, using NextCloud itself, apparently enshrining al Shabaab.

“There is a phrase that’s always associated with terrorists: Baqiya wa tatamadad” Ayad says. It means “remaining and expanding”. The history of terrorism is really one of retreat and resurgence, constant adaptation in the face of pressure and loss.

And this is where we are today: the Cache alive, as far as we know; the struggles continuing, their foothold still there. In the face of pressure, their innovation continues, a scramble from the tech giants to make a new home on decentralised services. They must continue to look ahead, for more tech, more opportunities, more anything that allows them to keep alive their distorted version of the past.

Carl Miller is research director for the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, at the think tank Demos. He tweets from @carljackmiller. This investigation was produced alongside Shiroma Silva, at BBC Click.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/isis-di ... obal-en-GB
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:05 am

Four important'
ISIS leaders killed


Four top leaders of the Islamic State (ISIS) were killed by Iraqi security forces on Friday, according to an Iraqi military spokesperson

Iraqi security forces prepared an ambush for ISIS fighters in the Samarra district of Salahaddin province, killing four of "the most important leaders of Daesh [ISIS] terrorists, including two with explosive belts, in al-Farhatiya area,” read a tweet from Yehia Rasool, spokesperson for Mustafa al-Kadhimi in his position as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

On Monday, two other top ISIS militants were killed in a raid by the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (ICTS) in the town of Daquq, Kirkuk province. The ICTS announced on the same day that two “dangerous” ISIS fighters had been detained in the western Iraqi town of Fallujah.

News of the capture comes as Washington announced that it would be halving the number of its troops in Iraq, from 5,200 to 3,000. The US leads the 82-country Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh, established in 2014 to rid Iraq and neighbouring Syria of ISIS.

Although the Iraqi government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, remnants of the group continue to ambush security forces, kidnap and execute suspected informants, and extort money from vulnerable rural populations, particularly in territories disputed by Baghdad and Erbil.

There were more than 400 ISIS-claimed or suspected attacks in Iraq between April and June according to a recent Pentagon Inspector General report, up from the 250 attacks recorded in the first three months of 2020.

Most frequently hit was the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, where the Pentagon reported 150 of the quarter's attacks had taken place. Other attacks were reported in the provinces of Kirkuk, Anbar, Nineveh, and Salahaddin.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/12092020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Sep 19, 2020 12:17 am

CHATTY PROFESSOR

ISIS leader ‘The Professor’ ratted on 68 jihadis before he was terror boss

Image

Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi offered up the names of al-Qaeda fighters when he was arrested in Iraq in 2008, according to declassified US intelligence files.

The leader of Isis offered up the names of al-Qaeda fighters, it's claimed

The leader of Isis offered up the names of al-Qaeda fighters, it's claimedCredit: Twitter

Salbi, known as 'The Professor', was appointed after former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi blew himself up in October last year

Salbi, known as 'The Professor', was appointed after former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi blew himself up in October last yearCredit: Reuters

Terror experts say the news, revealed in declassified documents, will send shock waves through the death cult

Salbi grassed on men responsible for plotting assassinations, kidnappings and bombings - and even gave spies the name of al-Qaeda's second-in-command in Iraq, who was killed by American forces eight months later.

The rat's intel has now been exposed after three interrogation reports were released by the Combating Terrorism Centre, a research body at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York.

The reports, seen by The Daily Telegraph, stated: “Detainee identified a number of photographs of ‘HVI’ [high value individuals] from the Mosul area.”

It's understood Salbi provided not only names but physical descriptions, mobile phone numbers and accounts of what they did for al-Qaeda.

He parted with the information after he was interrogated at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq.

After giving up the names, he was released in 2009.

Salbi signed a waiver which said he provided his statement "of my own free will without pressure of coercion".

Experts say the news will cause shock waves for the death cult.

Craig Whiteside, associate professor of national security affairs at the US Naval War College, said that Salbi “doesn’t seem to have much in the way of probity” - strong moral principles - because “he was ratting out so many of his colleagues”.

And Haroro Ingram, a senior research fellow at George Washington University’s programme on extremism, told the Telegraph that the revelations would “really shake trust” in Salbi.

43-year-old Salbi, a former officer in Saddam Hussein's army, became the leader of Isis last October.

He was appointed days after the death of former chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who killed himself and his children during a raid by US commandos.

Who is 'The Professor'?

Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Sabli became the leader of Isis in October after his predecessor killed himself and his children.

The ruthless Islamic scholar, 43, who is also known by the nom de guerre Haji Abdullah, helped found the sick terror group and was involved in the enslavement of Yazidi sex slaves.

Nicknamed 'The Professor' and 'The Destroyer', Salbi is said to have assumed control of the day-to-day running of the jihadi group immediately after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used a suicide vest to kill himself during a US raid in October in north west Syria.

Salbi is a former officer in Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's army and is reportedly a hardline policymaker within ISIS who has overseen operations around the world.

He holds a degree in sharia law from the University of Mosul and is one of the few non-Arabs in the death cult.

As the group's chief legislator, he was directly involved in gay people being thrown off roofs and women accused of cheating being stoned in the street, it has been reported.

Salbi’s exact location is unknown although his brother, Adel Salbi, is a politician in Turkish political party Turkmen Iraqi Front.

He reportedly maintained connections with his brother right up until he was named the new boss of ISIS.

Salbi, a founding member of Isis, is believed to have met Baghdadi while the sick pair were imprisoned at Camp Bucca in 2004.

Earlier this year Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, offered a $5million reward for information leading to Salbi's capture and said he was “previously active in al-Qaeda in Iraq and was known for torturing Yazidi religious minorities”.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/worldnews ... is-terror/
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Sep 20, 2020 12:03 am

UN team investigating ISIS crimes in Iraq

The mandate for a United Nations team working on holding the Islamic State (ISIS) to account for its crimes was extended for a year by the UN Security Council on Friday

The decision to extend the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh/ISIL (UNITAD)’s mandate until September 18, 2021 was made unanimously, according to a UN statement released after the virtual Security Council meeting.

“Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan QC welcomed the unanimity of the Council’s decision as a demonstration of the continued collective will of the international community and the Government of Iraq to work side-by-side in pursuit of justice and accountability for the victims and survivors of Daesh [ISIS] crimes,” the UN statement read.

The Iraqi government had submitted a letter to the Security Council on Wednesday to call for UNITAD’s mandate to be extended.

“Expressing his appreciation for the continued support of the Government of Iraq for the mandate and work of the Team, the Special Adviser underlined the commitment of UNITAD to continue to work closely with Iraqi authorities in the implementation of its mandate,” the decision added.

ISIS swept through swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, exercising its caliphate rule with exceptional violence. Among the group’s crimes are “executions, torture, amputations, ethno-sectarian attacks, rape and sexual slavery imposed on women and girls.”

The investigative unit was formed after Baghdad called at the United Nations in August 2017 for assistance in ensuring that ISIS members would be held to account for their crimes in Iraq.

The Security Council adopted a resolution in September 2017 for the UN Secretary General to establish an investigative them “to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL accountable by collecting, preserving and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that might amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Iraq.”

UNITAD focuses on crimes committed in the Yezidi heartland of Shingal, in Mosul, once the Iraq stronghold for ISIS, and at Tikrit Air Cadet Academy, where more than 1,600 cadets were slaughtered by the terror group.

Special Adviser Khan told a Security Council briefing in June that the Iraqi authorities had helped provide millions of cell data records to geo-locate witnesses and perpetrators, access to physical items of evidence seized from ISIS members, and cell phones, hard drives, computers and other electronic material that can be scrubbed for evidence.

The unit started work in Iraq in late 2018. Alongside Iraqi teams, UNITAD began in early 2019 to exhume the mass graves of Yezidis killed in Shingal.

In November 2019, Khan said that more than 160 ISIS members have been identified as perpetrators of atrocities against the Yezidi community.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/19092020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:08 pm

ISIS attacks in Khanaqin

Kakai villages in Diyala’s Khanaqin area have been emptied following repeated attacks at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group

Peshmerga fighter Faris Karim told Rudaw of the day ISIS fighters attacked his village of Merkhas.

His cousins and brothers died after militants stormed the village and shot dead six members of the same family.

“My brother was lying here. I called him many times. He had been shot dead... I tried to carry my brother, he remained silent. I was trying to pull him across the ground and screamed for help for about 40 minutes.”

“My brother was the mukhtar of the village and was killed. He was very kind to all the residents, he did nothing but good. They killed him because he was a Kurd and had three children,” said farmer Akram Hatan.

Iraqi MP and Khanaqin native Sherko Mirways told Rudaw English that more than 10 Kakai villages in Khanaqin have been emptied due to attacks from ISIS and “unidentified gunmen.”

"In the Khanaqin area there are 93 villages, of which 23 are Arab. The Arab villagers are carrying out as normal. There are 70 Kurdish villages left in the area. There are 30 to 32 villages that have been emptied due to attacks from Daesh ([ISIS] and unidentified gunmen. Around 12 of these villages are Kakai,” he said on Sunday.

“In a village with ten households, the villagers were forced to flee after two of the villagers were beheaded," he added.

Since 2014, Kakai Kurds have been targeted by the Islamic State (ISIS) because of their religious beliefs. Many now live near Kirkuk, Khanaqin, and in the Nineveh Plains. They have fought alongside Kurdish Peshmerga units during the counter-ISIS campaign that began in 2016.

Khanaqin lies within territory disputed between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad. In-fighting over control of the areas has created a security vacuum exploited by ISIS to terrorise local populations.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/27092020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Oct 07, 2020 10:29 pm

Syrian regime-ISIS clashes

More than 40 Syrian regime troops and nearly 50 Islamic State (ISIS) militants have died in a week of clashes in northern Syria, a UK-based war monitor reported on Wednesday

The most intense clashes have been taking place in the Aleppo-Hama-al-Raqqa triangle of the country, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

"Fierce battles are underway between ISIS members on one hand, and regime forces and loyalists with Russian air support, on the other," SOHR said.

"Syrian Observatory activists have documented large number of fatalities in the clashes and Russian airstrikes since early October, as 41 regime soldiers and loyalists were killed, while ISIS lost 49 members in the same period," the monitor said.

The death toll is expected to rise, SOHR said, due to a large number of unconfirmed casualties.

The monitor reported lesser clashes taking place in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor, an area under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The area is a hotspot of ISIS activity that borders regime-held territory.

According to the latest quarterly report from the Pentagon, ISIS have shown the ability "to operate in parts of Syria under regime control" where the US-led Coalition and its allies "have limited territorial reach", noting an ISIS offensive in April that saw militants occupy Syrian regime positions in Homs province in April.

SOHR said that it has documented the killing of at least 822 regime soldiers and loyalists of Syrian and non-Syrian nationalities since late March. Deaths include at least two Russians, and 140 Iranian-backed militiamen of non-Syrian nationalities who were killed in "attacks, bombings and ambushes" ISIS elements in the deserts of Deir ez-Zor, Homs, and al-Suwaidaa.

During the same time period, 439 ISIS members were also killed in attacks and bombardments, the monitor said.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/07102020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Oct 15, 2020 3:09 am

RAF Reaper drone wipes out ISIS unit

An RAF Reaper drone has wiped out a suspected ISIS terror unit who had attacked Iraqi security forces west of Baghdad

    The drone attacked ISIS suspects in Anbar province, west of Baghdad

    Iraqi defence forces called for assistance after they were attacked by ISIS

    Coalition fast jets hit the suspected terrorists before the drone arrived

    The drone's crew launched a single GBU-12 guided bomb to attack the group
According to the Ministry of Defence, 'a small group of extremists' attacked local security forces in Anbar province west of Baghdad.

A coalition aircraft attacked part of the ISIS force, forcing the remainder to retreat when they were targeted by the unmanned Reaper.

The Ministry of Defence released footage of the drone attacking the terrorists with a 500lb laser-guided smart bomb

The RAF drone was called in to support local Iraqi security forces who were being attacked by ISIS

The MoD said RAF crews were flying daily missions against ISIS in Iraq and Syria

The RAF drone identified the suspected terrorists and fired a laser-guided 500lb at them.

According to the MoD: 'The crew of the Reaper successfully located them, and at an appropriate moment, with no sign of a strike posing any risks to friendly forces or any civilians, conducted a carefully planned attack with a GBU-12 guided bomb. The Iraqi forces subsequently reported that the threat had been eliminated.'

The MoD said the RAF are flying manned and unmanned missions against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

On August 20, a Reaper drone fired a single hellfire missile at a cave complex 85 miles west of Kirkuk, northern Iraq.

According to the MoD: 'The missile struck the target accurately, and the blast was observed to emerge from another part of the cave network, indicating that weapon’s effect had reached deep inside the caves.'

Further attacks were launched against ISIS suspects on August 26, including both Reaper drones and coalition fast jets.

The MoD claimed no innocent civilians were injured during the attack

The MQ-9 Reaper drone is designed to operate at medium altitudes for long endurance missions.

The unmanned drone can fly for up to 20 hours when it is unarmed or 12 hours when carrying weapons.

It is used for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) and strike missions.

It is able to remain above a target for long periods providing live data to its controllers on the ground station in the US or the UK.

A separate team are responsible for arming and maintaining the weapons system 'in theatre'.

The RAF Reaper drone can be equipped with four hellfire missiles as well as a pair of 500lb laser-guided bombs

Powerplant: one 900shp Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop

Length: 36ft (10.97m)

Height: 12ft (3.66m)

Wingspan: 69ft 3½in (21.12m)

Maximum take-off weight: 10,500lb (4,760kg)

Maximum speed: 250kt (463km/h)

Endurance (clean): 20 hours

Endurance (with weapons): more than 12 hours

Service ceiling (clean): more than 50,000ft

Service ceiling (with weapons): more than 30,000ft

Armament: two 500lb GBU-12 laser-guided bombs and four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/articl ... -Iraq.html
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Oct 22, 2020 12:44 am

Western Kurdistan to try ISIS prisoners

Thousands of suspected members of the Islamic State (ISIS) will be tried in northeast Syria (Western Kurdistan) in early 2021, a Kurdish official has confirmed to Rudaw

The trials will be conducted by the Kurdish authorities as per local laws but under international monitoring led by Sweden, the official told Rudaw English on Wednesday.

ISIS prisoners “will be tried in the beginning of 2021 as per Western Kurdistan laws,” said Sheikhmous Ahmed, head of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES) office for internally displaced persons and refugees.

“There will be observers from Sweden which has indirectly expressed its support for the trials,” said the Kurdish official, adding that observers from other countries will also monitor the trials.

Ahmed said that Sweden will play a “significant role” in the trials. Both men and women will face prosecution.

Western Kurdistan is home to tens of thousands of ISIS-affiliated prisoners - including 10,000 foreigners, 5,000 Iraqis and some 25,000 Syrians. There are also about 68,000 people of many nationalities, including Syrians, in the notorious al-Hol camp in Hasaka.

Most of the prisoners were detained during the fight against ISIS between 2014 and 2019, especially when the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) regained control of Baghouz, the last bastion of the terror group, in March 2019.

Shiyar Ali, representative of the NES in Sweden, told Sweden's SVT television service on Wednesday that they have already begun legal proceedings for the trials, expected to begin in January or February.

“We are ready to repatriate the orphans and the humanitarian cases to Sweden but those who committed crimes here will be tried,” head of NES Foreign Relations Abdulkarim Omar told the outlet.

Beatrice Eriksson, spokesperson for the newly-founded Repatriate the Children Sweden group, told Rudaw English on Wednesday that ISIS-linked children with Swedish citizenship should be repatriated.

“The children shouldn't even be there in the first place. Sweden, and the international community, should have made sure no families even traveled to Syria and Iraq. And as a second step, Sweden should have brought them home already,” said the spokesperson.

“Most of the Swedish children held captive are below the age of five years. No child can be claimed guilty of any crime, yet they are kept locked up in terrible conditions. They need to be rescued immediately, with no further delay.”

A Swedish delegation, led by the Special Envoy for the Syrian Crisis Per Orneus, met with Kurdish officials and parties in Western Kurdistan this week.

The delegation discussed building "strategic relations" with Western Kurdistan as well as supporting them politically and militarily.

“We discussed means of supporting the region politically and militarily, solutions regarding ISIS detainees in the SDF prisons and their families, and how to build strategic relationships that serve the region,” said Newroz Ahmed, commander of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ).

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/21102020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:57 pm

Peshmerga hunt down ISIS

Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Kirkuk province have launched a raid Sunday morning to hunt down suspected Islamic State (ISIS) remnants targeting the local population, says a top military official

The raid is covering territory near Sheikh Bzaini, an area in the Shwan sub-district, 35 kilometers north of Kirkuk city. The center of Shwan is under the control of the Iraqi government, while Sheikh Bzaini in the north of the sub-district is under the security control of the Peshmerga. Peshmerga say they will be securing a no man’s land between central Shwan and Sheikh Bzaini, where suspected ISIS militants have taken advantage of the security vacuum.

Commenting on the raid, Brig. Hiwa Abdulla, a Kurdish Peshmerga commander said "this area is a joint borderline between us and the Iraqi forces.”

“We do not enjoy good coordination between our forces [Peshmerga and federal Iraqi forces]," said the commander of the reason behind the insecurity.

"Unfortunately, we have not yet discovered any trace of the militant’s havens," Abdulla told Rudaw, adding that their "efforts will continue."

Three young men were killed and set ablaze in Sheikh Bzaini’s village of Toulk last week.

Peshmerga fighter Aram Mustafa, his brother Harez, and cousin Peshawa Abdulrahman, all in their 20s, were searching for cattle in the area when they were killed.

A day later, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted to its Telegram channel.

Disputed territories claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad in the provinces of Kirkuk, Nineveh, Diyala, and Salahadin have become a hotbed for the extremists group’s activities.

A major security vacuum exists in these areas, caused by a lack of military coordination and communication between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army since October 2017, when Erbil-Baghdad relations hit an all-time low.

The Kurdish Peshmerga commander considers the formation of a joint operations room between their forces and the Iraqis "important", hoping "we will be able to form it in the future so we can bring the situation under control."

Concerning ISIS activities in the area, he says "the area is wide, something Daesh is interested in so as to martyr locals and inflict harm."

Although the Iraqi government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in December 2017, remnants of the group have returned to earlier insurgency tactics, ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/251020204
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Nov 09, 2020 3:46 pm

ISIS attack west of Baghdad

An Islamic State (ISIS) group attack on a lookout point west of Baghdad manned by a state-sponsored tribal force left several people dead late Sunday, security sources and medics told AFP.

The jihadists threw grenades and fired on the tribal Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al Shaabi in Arabic) forces stationed at Al-Radwaniyah, on the southern outskirts of the Iraqi capital, near Baghdad airport.

"ISIS attacked the monitoring tower, killing five members of the tribal Hashd and six local people who had come to help repel the attack," a security source said.

A medic confirmed the toll to AFP, and said eight wounded were transferred to a hospital in central Baghdad.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility from ISIS.

Iraq's Security Media Cell has confirmed the attack, saying "a terror group consisting of four people conducted an attack in Al Basima village in the Radhwaniyah region late last night", according to state media. Four people were killed and three injured in the attack, it claimed.

ISIS swept across a third of Iraq in 2014, seizing major cities across the north and west and reaching the suburbs of the capital Baghdad.

After a fierce three-year fight backed by the US-led coalition, Iraq declared ISIS defeated in late 2017.

The coalition has significantly drawn down its troops this year, consolidating them to three main bases in Baghdad, Ain al-Asad in the west and Erbil in the north.

But ISIS sleeper cells have continued to wage hit-and-run attacks on security forces and state infrastructure, particularly in desert areas where troops are stretched thin.

Areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil are particularly vulnerable, lying in a security vacuum exploited by the terror group.

Attacks with such high tolls and so close to the capital have been rare, however.

ISIS said in its weekly al-Naba newsletter released on Thursday that it had conducted six operations in Salahaddin province in the week of October 29–November 4. Salahaddin was the second most frequently attacked province in Iraq after Diyala, where ISIS conducted ten attacks that same week, according to the newsletter.

The group recently claimed responsibility for several Salahaddin attacks targeting federal police barracks and PMF equipment, according to posts on ISIS telegram channels.

The anti-ISIS coalition conducted seven strikes on targets in Iraq in September, killing 18 people and destroying six cache sites and four tunnels, the Coalition said in its latest available strike summary report released early last month.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/09112020
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:40 pm

Heavy fight against ISIS cells in Deir ez-Zor

There is a wide network of ISIS cells in the East Syrian self-governing region of Deir ez-Zor

Despite the competition of the Syrian regime and Turkey, both regional powers have a strong interest in destabilizing the region and aim to dismantle self-government. As a means to this end, the Islamic State (ISIS) in the region enjoys the support of both powers. As a result, jihadists have become increasingly active in recent days and weeks. Only last Monday, several members of the civil council of Deir ez-Zor and workers in oil production were attacked.

Reorganization attempts of the ISIS

After the military defeat of the ISIS, the organization continues its attempts through covert cells to threaten the security of the region and regain control. In attacks and assassinations, the ISIS targets in particular leaders of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), tribal and social leaders, as well as patriotic people who cooperate with the Autonomous Administration. With the expansion of services in Deir ez-Zor, these attacks have also increased."

Cells linked to Iran are also active

Even though the SDF declared victory over the ISIS on March 23, 2019, operations against the Islamists continue to this day. Regarding the security situation in Deir ez-Zor, Abdullah said; "In Deir ez-Zor not only the ISIS is active, but also the Turkish-backed SNA (Syrian National Army), militias of the governments of Damascus and Iran, and various other forces are organized in cell structures.

The Iranian structures are linked to the security forces of the Damascus government. It has already been revealed that the government in Damascus was involved in the assassination of Mushtar al-Hafal of the Okaidat tribe. Damascus wants to regain control of the region by fueling conflicts in the region.”

Abdullah said that some of these cells carried out propaganda activities for the Damascus government, but a number of them were crushed by the Military Council which has also been able to dismantle countless IS cells.

The difficulties of the struggle

Asked about the difficulties of fighting against these cell structures, the Deir ez-Zor Military Council spokeswoman explains: "Deir ez-Zor is very large and therefore the struggle is very difficult. It is difficult because we do not have the necessary military technology for reconnaissance. The international coalition should support our fight against these cells more strongly.”
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Nov 22, 2020 12:44 am

ISIS ambush Kills nine

Six Iraqi security personnel and three civilians were killed in an ambush Saturday carried out by the Islamic State group north of Baghdad

A police source said a roadside bomb hit a car and that jihadists opened fire on a rescue team of policemen and state-aligned paramilitary forces when they arrived at the scene, about 200 kilometres from the capital.

Four members of the Hashed al-Shaabi and two policemen died along with three civilians, Mohammed Zidane, the mayor of Zouiya, 50 kilometres from the city of Tikrit, told AFP.

He updated an earlier civilian death toll of two.

There was no immediate word of casualties among the assailants, but Zidane said those killed among the Hashed, a coalition of mainly Shiite forces, were Sunni tribesmen.

Both the mayor and police said the ambush was the work of Islamic State (IS) jihadists, although no immediate claim of responsibility was issued.

Eleven people were killed on November 8 in an ISIS attack on a lookout post at Al-Radwaniyah, near Baghdad airport on the outskirts of the capital.

ISIS swept across a third of Iraq in 2014, seizing major cities across the north and west and reaching the suburbs of the capital.

After a fierce three-year fight backed by a US-led military coalition, Iraq declared ISIS defeated in late 2017.

The coalition has significantly drawn down its troops this year.

ISIS sleeper cells have continued to wage hit-and-run attacks on security forces and state infrastructure, particularly in desert areas where troops are stretched thin.

Attacks with high tolls and close to the capital have been rare, however.

The latest attacks come as the United States announced that it will withdraw another 500 troops, reducing its deployment to 2,500 soldiers.

Most other countries' contributing forces to the coalition have pulled out since the coronavirus pandemic hit.

However, the Iraqi government has "clearly indicated it wants to maintain its partnership with the United States and coalition forces as we continue to finish the fight against ISIS, the US Middle East commander said Thursday, using another acronym for the jihadist group.

General Kenneth McKenzie cited estimates that ISIS still has a body of 10,000 supporters in the Iraq-Syria region and remains a real threat.

(I believe that to be a vast underestimate)

"The progress of the Iraqi Security Forces has allowed the United States to reduce force posture in Iraq," he said.

But US and coalition forces have to remain to help prevent ISIS from reconstituting as a cohesive group able to plot major attacks, he said.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/211120203
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 26, 2020 12:35 am

10,000 ISIS in Iraq and Syria

The Islamic State (ISIS) has 10,000 members left in Iraq and Syria, a coalition spokesperson said in Western Kurdistan (Rojava Kurdistani) on Tuesday

“The UN says there are approximately 10,000 members of Daesh (ISIS) left. So they have come from 40,000 in 2014… they are not going to take over any territory, because we’ve defeated them territorially,” spokesperson Col. Wayne Marotto said following a press conference in the Hasaka town of Rmelan.

ISIS was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017 and in Syria in March 2019, but remains active in areas across Iraq and in and Syria’s Deiz ez-Zor province.

“Now they are doing an insurgency…they are assassinating people, they are kidnapping people. They are a bunch of criminals. They are still out there in some parts of Iraq, in the mountains and in the caves. We find them and we bomb them and we kill them,” he added.

Disputed areas such as Kirkuk, Salahaddin and Diyala are particularly vulnerable to ISIS attacks, including abductions, extortion and IED explosions.

The United States leads the International Coalition forces. It has trained 120,000 troops in Syria and Iraq and protected 8 million people from ISIS attacks in both countries.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/25112020

Personally, I believe that there are many more ISIS supporters now than there were 3 years ago

ISIS had the support of many thousands of ordinary Sunnis following their treatment by the Shia controlled government

Especially the way Shia treated the Sunni population in Mosul

Not to forget the slaughter of THOUSANDS of innocent people in the coalition Mosul Massacre
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Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 26, 2020 12:53 am

Major ISIS target arrested

Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service said on Monday it had arrested the "administrative chief" of the Islamic State (ISIS) group after his arrival at Baghdad airport

The man, known as Abu Naba, was detained in October as he was "getting into a taxi, just after landing in Baghdad", CTS spokesman Sabah al-Noaman told AFP.

Describing him as a "major target", Noaman said Abu Naba had been steering financial support to ISIS, organising meetings and relaying messages between jihadist members.

"He began his jihadist path in 2003 with Al-Qaeda, before joining various groups that eventually led to ISIS," he said.

But Noaman declined to reveal Abu Naba's real name, where he had been flying in from and how he managed to cross through airport security before he was apprehended.

In 2014, the ultra-conservative and violent faction seized a third of Iraqi territory, which local troops backed by the US-led coalition only recaptured in late 2017.

More than a year later, in 2019, ISIS lost its last foothold in neighbouring Syria.

Jihadist sleeper cells have continued to wage hit-and-run attacks, including one north of Baghdad late Saturday that killed six security forces and four civilians.

They have also continued to transfer funds and personnel across Iraqi territory, Iraqi and Western officials say.

"Abu Naba had been in contact with remaining members of ISIS in Iraq, and we were monitoring their conversations for a long time," said Noaman.

Since his arrest, Abu Naba has remained in Iraqi custody and is being interrogated.

Noaman said he would be tried under Iraq's counter-terror law, which carries the death penalty for "membership in a terrorist organisation".

Iraq ranks fifth among countries that carry out death sentences, according to Amnesty International, which documented 100 executions in the country in 2019.

Since declaring ISIS defeated in 2017, Iraq has sentenced to death hundreds of its own citizens for membership in the jihadist faction but only a small proportion have been carried out.

On November 16, 21 men convicted of "terrorism" charges were hanged at the notorious Nasiriyah prison in southern Iraq, which the United Nations warned was "deeply troubling."

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/23112020
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