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Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 8:57 pm
Author: Anthea
Detained senior ISIS leader Qardash

Nasser al-Qardash, a senior ISIS leader newly transferred to Iraqi authority custody will prove to be a “treasure trove” of information on new ISIS strategy for the Iraqi government, security analyst Husham al-Hashimi told Rudaw's Sangar Abdulrahman on Thursday

Iraq's state media reported an Iraqi intelligence announcement of Qardash's arrest in Wednesday, but Hashimi told Rudaw that the ISIS ringleader surrendered himself to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after the battle for the last ISIS stronghold of Baghouz, eastern Syria in March 2019. Qardash was held in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) detention for a year before he was handed to Iraqi forces a few days ago, Hashimi said.

ISIS swept through parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria in the summer of 2014. The extremist militant group, otherwise known by their Arabic acronym Daesh, were declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017, and in March 2019 in Syria, but continue to conduct deadly attacks on security forces and civilians.

According to Hashimi, between 3500-4000 active militants and 8000-9000 inactive Daesh militants are currently present in Iraq.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Rudaw: When and how was Nasser al-Qardash arrested?

Husham al-Hashimi: A professional committee in Baghdad belonging to the Iraqi intelligence agency can question such a Daesh leader. He is considered to be holding a lot of important information, since he [Qardash] has been a senior Daesh member through all of the group's stages - from Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and now Abu Ibrahim al-Quraishi.

He is a treasure trove of information for the Iraqi government - one that can clarify and identify a lot of key information for the Iraqi government on Daesh, including fund sources, intelligence, their operations in foreign countries, and their internal management. So there will be many interrogation sessions with the Daesh leader [Qardash], to extract as much as information from him as possible on Daesh's new strategy under the leadership of Abu Ibrahim al-Quraishi.

He was seen as a potential successor to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, so how was he arrested so easily? Why didn't he react violently when he knew he was going to be arrested like Baghdadi did, blowing himself before being detained by the Americans?

Qardash was arrested last year, surrendering himself after the battle of Baghouz in eastern Syria to the SDF, who handed Qardash over to the coalition forces. He was held for a year at the Haqil al-Omar prison in eastern Syria.

The Iraqi intelligence agency provided the coalition with a lot of information on Nasser Qardash, and the Iraqi intelligence agency participated in the interrogation sessions on him alongside the SDF and the coalition forces at Haqil al-Omar.

Qardash was transferred to Iraq a few days ago, after a year in Syria. Iraq is now continuing to interrogate Qardash, paving the way for researchers and psychiatrists to start getting Qardash to reveal information on Daesh, as he holds a lot of information on the group because he was its main leader in eastern Syria from 2011 to 2019.

So if he was arrested in 2019, why was his detention only announced now?

Qardash was held in an SDF prison, under the supervision of the coalition forces - specifically the coalition's US forces. The transfer of such a Daesh leader from Syria to Iraq entails a lot of protocol and diplomatic effort.

But investigation into Qardash was continuous throughout his detention at Haqil al-Omar prison. Iraqi intelligence officers frequently visited him at the prison to interrogate him, and the Iraqis were able to force Qardash to reveal a lot of information on Daesh.

Will the detention of Qardash negatively impact Daesh? Do you think the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and detention of Qardash will bring an end to the group? Many say that the death and detention of Daesh leaders does not affect its activities.

I don't think Daesh could have been defeated by killing one of its leaders, but it is surely weakened when one a founding leader who was a mastermind behind its movement in the region is killed or arrested. So the detention of Qardash definitely weakens Daesh.

With the arrest of Qardash, who will be Daesh's next leader?

According to local and international intelligence sources, Daesh already appointed a new leader in November 2019, which is Abu Ibrahim al-Quraishi, also known as Haji Amer Qardash or Haji Abdullah Qardash.

Daesh has alternatives, but ones that are of less value and importance than Nasser Qardash. Those who now lead the Daesh delegate committee are less powerful and skillful than Nasser Qardash.

In the past few days Daesh has conducted widespread attacks on Iraqi security forces, killing many force members especially in and around Diyala. Do you think Iraqi forces are still in need of US-led coalition support and assistance to confront Daesh?

I think Iraq is still very much in need of the US-led coalition support. Although Iraqi forces have been improved very much recently, they still need coalition support to completely eliminate Daesh in Iraq.

My last question – what is your estimation of Daesh militant numbers in Iraq?

There are approximately 3500-4000 active militants and 8000-9000 inactive Daesh militants currently present in Iraq.

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2020 9:00 pm
Author: Anthea
Two senior ISIS leaders killed

Two ISIS leaders were killed in a joint raid by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and US-led anti-ISIS coalition in Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria on Sunday, according to a Coalition statement

According to the Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) statement released on Friday evening. Ahmad ‘Isa Ismail al-Zawi, otherwise known as Abu Ali al-Baghdadi, was the leader of ISIS in North Baghdad, and Ahmad ‘Abd Muhammad Hasan al-Jughayfi, a senior supplies and logistics leader across Iraq and Syria, were kiilled in the May 17 operation.

"The removal of these ISIS leaders will disrupt future attacks against innocent civilians and our security partners and in the region," the statement read.

This is a developing story...

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 12:26 am
Author: Anthea
Increased ISIS activities
in and around Kirkuk

Othman al-Ghanmi, minister of interior, to deploy additional federal police brigades to Kirkuk amid increasing Daesh activities

Othman al-Ghanmi has approved the deployment of two additional federal police brigades to Kirkuk, in particular to Dibis and Hawija districts, western and south western of the city, where the Islamic State groups’s sleep cells (ISIS) have recently intensified their activities.

Al-Ghanmi expressed his support for such a deployment in his visit to Kirkuk yesterday, Monday 23, where he met with the military commanders.

Ali Hamadi, an assistant to the governor of Kirkuk, said that, “the decision to deploy two additional federal police brigades to Kirkuk was made ten days ago and today (May 23) the minister of interior formally approved the decision.”

“The two brigades are supposed to be stationed in Dibis and Hawija district, to protect the areas from the threats of ISIS,” he added.

The ISIS sleep cells occasionally carry out attacks against the civilians and the security forces as well as pose threats to the oil fields located in Dibis.

Hamadi claimed that, “the interior minister has promised to deploy additional troops to the city whenever needed,” and has praised the role of the federal police.

The Major General of the Federal Police Jaafar al-Battat, and both secretary of interior ministry for federal police and intelligence affairs accompanied al-Ghanmi in his visit to the Kirkuk on May 23.

Rakan al- Jabouri, Kirkuk Governor, Saad Harbiya, commander of Kirkuk operation room and 61st brigade and majority of military commanders in the city participated in the meeting.

Al-Ghanmi has particularly discusses the recent security developments of the province. Hamadi added that he said that, “take all the necessary measures to stabilize and to protect the city from the threats of ISIS militants.”

The minister has also mentioned the replacement of commanders every three years, but has not made any replacement in his visit.

According to a statement issued by the office of Kirkuk governor, al-Jabouri said that, “the security situation of the city is stable and the relations between different ethnic components of the city are at a good level.”

It was the first time the minister of interior visited the city of Kirkuk since the formation of the new Iraqi government on May 7.

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 1:57 am
Author: Anthea
Click on image to enlarge:


Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Mon May 25, 2020 12:26 pm
Author: Anthea
Inside the Sisterhood
Springing Jihadis From Jail

“Do you know any way to get me transferred to Camp al Hol?” asks an ISIS prisoner in a neighboring camp texting from one of the illicit phones passed around among the detainees. If the guards from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) catch her with it there will be hell to pay, but all she’s thinking about is how she can get out

To stay in SDF custody, she believes, is to face the growing threat of attacks on the largely Kurdish-led SDF by Turkish-backed rebels, and rapes and assaults that have gone along with that, plus the Turkish bombardments in the region, and now the spread of COVID-19 in Syria.

There was a time when U.S. special operations forces helped keep the prisons, the prisoners–and the SDF troops–secure. But that time ended last year when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the plug on America’s SDF allies, the soldiers who did the vital fighting and dying on the ground in the war to crush the so-called Islamic State. Since then a much more tenuous and treacherous modus vivendi has taken shape, with much less American influence.

Previously this prisoner had texted us that she had the opportunity to escape but passed it up because she had turned herself in to the SDF with the express wish to be repatriated and face justice at home in the West. But now, seeing the steady stream of ISIS females escaping from al Hol, she’s having second thoughts. Maybe freedom is an option for her.

Indeed, there have been multiple escapes from Camp al Hol, most of them facilitated with bribes to local guards in the amounts of $3,000 to $4,500 per person. Hundreds of women, many from Europe, escaped another camp, Ain Issa, when it was bombarded during the Turkish invasion of North East Syria in the fall of 2019.

Lisa Smith from Ireland and Bouchra Abouallal from Belgium, both of whom escaped from Ain Issa camp, were among some of the women who made their way toward Turkey, trying to get home, possibly meaning to turn themselves in. Lisa Smith made it and is now facing justice at home in Dublin; Bouchra remains detained in a Turkish prison, although her children have been brought back to Belgium, where they were born before their parents joined ISIS.


Evidence has grown over the last year of fundraising in Europe to pay for escapes and smuggling operations out of Al Hol. Richard Hall of the Independent reported that an operation called “Justice for Sisters” was launched in June of 2019 with the help of an intermediary in Germany using an online crowdfunding campaign aiming to raise money from European sympathizers.

Another campaign reported at the same time by the Kurdish Rojava Information Center was explicitly raising funds via the popular encrypted messaging app Telegram and PayPal to pay smugglers to help women in Camp Hol escape.

To avoid takedowns by PayPal, the fundraising campaigns were given names like “Honeymoon in Vienna” by their ISIS-supporting organizers. In July, the Telegram channel was closed, but whether it resurfaced under another heading is unknown to us.

Similarly, operatives in Idlib have run a campaign called “Free the Female Prisoners” that claims to have had success getting four women out of the camp. That campaign released a poster on Telegram stating, “$8,000 secures the full release of a sister and the Golden share $4,000 covers half the cost.”

Hall writes about how money may be moved to foreign women in Camp al Hol: “Money transfer facilities are present in the main part of the camp, and foreign detainees could in theory receive money with the help of a Syrian living in the camp.” We would add that ISIS women could also make illicit arrangements with local Syrians who sell them food and other supplies.

The International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) recently discovered “Justice for Sisters” on Instagram, with one of the accounts looking like its run from al Hol camp, most likely via an illicit phone.

The women detained in al Hol, pictured in full opaque niqabs, wrote that they needed $7,500 to escape. While many of the posts are written in German, a few are written in Arabic and English. One English post noted the lack of electricity and medication, “causing viruses to spread rapidly.” The women pleaded for funds “in our hour of need.”

They also posted an ISIS propaganda video promising “the punishment of the Burning Fire” to “those who have tortured the believing men and believing women.”

In the caption for the video, the women suggested that those who donated would be helping the family of a shaheed, a “martyr” according to ISIS’s warped interpretation of Islam, meaning that at least one of each woman’s husbands was killed while fighting for ISIS. (Under the Islamic State, women who lost their husbands in combat were directed to marry other fighters right away.)

Another video showed women reading a message in German, English, and Arabic. This Instagram account also features Instagram stories with photos and videos of ISIS fighters and their families in ISIS’s last stronghold of Baghouz, plus requests for cash donations displayed in international currency, and the pictures showing the dire conditions in al Hol.

That account bio includes links to two other Instagram accounts apparently not run from al Hol. One, supposedly run by a man, posted photos and videos of the women in al Hol. His content was almost exclusively in German. Another account posted a link to a PayPal account as well as an address in Germany where supporters could go to offer “help and support.” Most of the photos posted by this account were of women and their children in al Hol,


The women who have escaped from the SDF-run camps are many. Hayat Boumedienne, partner of Amedy Coulibaly who was one of the perpetrators of the horrific January 2015 attacks in Paris, France, is one of 13 French jihadists who have escaped from SDF camps. "Some were married to well-known jihadists, others made propaganda and appeared in the magazines of the Islamic State organization" says Jean-Charles Brisard, cofounder of the Paris-based Terrorism Analysis Center told Agence France Presse last week.

Boumedienne fled France shortly before the Paris attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical papers and Coulibaly’s hostage taking and assault at a kosher supermarket in 2015. Boumedienne was in the company of Mahdi Sabri Belhoucine, the brother of a jihadist notorious in France, as she crossed from Turkey into Syria. She is believed to have been at least peripherally involved in the attacks.

Boumedienne was thought to have died in Syria until recent evidence surfaced in French courts placing her in Camp al Hol in October 2019, according to the testimony of a woman who was detained alongside her. However, she is now believed to have escaped alongside 13 other French women who were detained in al Hol and Ain Issa camps. This number of ISIS female escapes amounts to 10 percent of the French women detained in Syria, according to Brisard.

“People try to escape every day, and people do escape every week,” a camp administrator from Al Hol told Lindsey Snell of The Investigative Journal in February of 2020. She pointed out that some wanted to settle in Idlib or Deir Ezzor, but that most wanted to cross out of Syria to Turkey.

According to an unnamed Turkish journalist cited by Snell, women are assisted by the Turkish military in Jarabulus and Manbij to make their way into Turkey. We have not been able to confirm that specific claim, but it would fit with ICSVE interviews in which ISIS members claim that Turkish intel and military officials helped them in earlier years when they needed to cross the border from Syria into Turkey for various reasons.

The SDF acknowledges these escapes, most recently confirming that four Turkish women, Hatice Güneş, Hafsa Güneş, Beyza Güneş, and Berire Güneş, escaped on December 21, 2019, from al Hol Camp.

Such incidents “confirm the inability of local authorities to guarantee the detention of foreign jihadists, whether in prisons or in camps, in which mutinies and attempted escape occur regularly,” says Brisard. He goes on to say that they may join the ranks of terrorists currently operating in Syria and Iraq, strengthening them, or disperse to other countries.

They may also head home secretly to plan and carry out further attacks like those that plagued many European capitals in recent years. Brisard’s organization, like many others, advocates for repatriation of these ISIS prisoners held by the SDF so they can be tried by European laws, held securely in Western facilities and if possible be rehabilitated before their ultimate release back into society.


When considering these ISIS escapes one should keep in mind that al Qaeda in Iraq pursued a strategy it called “Breaking the Walls” in 2012 to free enough former jihadists to strengthen their ranks. The result: they rose again as ISIS—which was by 2014 the most ambitious and powerful jihadi terrorist group in history.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (who didn’t have to escape from U.S. custody in Iraq a decade earlier, but was released), urged his followers in his final video months before he was killed last October to free ISIS prisoners. Other ISIS supporters have since echoed his call. ISIS men held in al Hasakah prison in SDF territory have rioted multiple times recently, once taking over an entire floor of the prison for several days. Eventually the riots were quelled and the SDF says those who escaped were recaptured.

According to careful instructions given to us before interviewing ISIS prisoners in January 2020, the SDF has tried to keep news of Baghdadi’s speech, and even of his death, hidden from male prisoners. The belief is that if they learned of either they would become more violent, riot or try to escape.

The women, however, clearly are aware. When we visited the SDF camps in August and September of 2019, the prison guards told us the die-hard women enforcers of ISIS were roaming the camps sharing news of Baghdadi’s speech and telling their “sisters” that it wouldn’t be long until their men would come to break them out of the prison.

This news was so frightening to some of the disillusioned women that one German in Al Hol asked me, while trembling in fear, if it was true that ISIS would be coming back to reclaim them.

Amarnath Amarsingam a Canadian counter-terrorism researcher, tweeted a similar observation from his visit to Camp al Hol in October 2019: “Baghdadi speech calling for a prison break had profound impact inside camps/prisons [with ISIS] women feeling ISIS leader still cares about them.”


While the SDF has been a vital ally for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, bravely fighting on the ground and imprisoning thousands of jihadists, it currently struggles with many challenges trying to hold the captives.

There is severe overcrowding since one prison in a highly populated area was shut down after the Turks bombed it. There are not enough resources to pay the staff. And there’s no clear plan for how to move forward. None at all.

While the SDF has asked repeatedly for Western countries to repatriate their ISIS detainees, there has been little to no positive response from Europeans. In the absence of repatriations, the SDF requested assistance to build and staff new prisons and train guards in state-of-the-art terrorist prison protocols, and also to fund rehabilitation programs. Moreover, they have requested an international tribunal, hybrid court, or, lacking that, support for using local courts to prosecute these ISIS prisoners.

And while the members of the international community, particularly Europeans, have been balking at repatriations, they also have been loath to deal with the SDF directly. Many want to avoid the ire of Turkey, which claims the group is a part of the PKK insurgency recognized internationally as a terrorist organization. European politicians also are reluctant to deal on such sensitive matters with this non-state actor.

U.S. military sources speaking to ICSVE have said many times that they have no evidence of the SDF ever launching attacks into Turkey from Syrian soil, except when they were defending themselves during the Turkish incursion into SDF territory in the fall of 2019. And today, while much of the SDF’s veteran leadership is Kurdish, most of its rank and file is now made up of Arabs, according to a recent report published by The Wilson Center in Washington.

In any case, if ISIS detainees are not to be repatriated there is no question that the SDF needs assistance to hold the detainees securely. ... 36895.html

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2020 7:44 pm
Author: Anthea
"ISIS Governor of Iraq"
killed in Deir ez-Zor airstrike

The Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said Tuesday that Mu'taz al-Jubouri, leader of the ISIS group in Iraq, was killed by international coalition airstrike

Al-Jubouri, also known as Hajji Taysir, who is also assistant of the top ISIS leader, was killed in an airstrike in Deir ez-Zor area in eastern Syria, according to accurate intelligence reports presented by the Iraqi CTS.

The CTS statement said: “We announce the killing of the terrorist Moataz Numan Abdul Naif Najm al-Juburi al-Makani (Haji Tayseer), who occupies the position of the so-called governor of Iraq and the deputy leader of the ISIS terrorist organization for all state affairs and is responsible for planning and coordination of external terrorist operations after a short period of time following the movements of this terrorist The dangerous and its permanent movement inside and outside Iraq, as it was targeted by an air strike by the international coalition aircraft in the Syrian area of ​​Deir Al-Zour, according to accurate intelligence information by the anti-terrorist agency.

The statement added that Jubouri “had more than one passport and identity to move around, and he never used the phone for fear of persecution.”

On May 20, the Iraqi National Intelligence Service (INIS) said in a statement that it has arrested Abdul-Nasser Qardash, a former candidate to succeed the dead ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Qardash was one of the most important leaders of ISIS, but the group later chose Abdul-Rahman al-Mawla to succeed al-Baghdadi.

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2020 10:56 pm
Author: Anthea
Imprisoned ISIS a great danger

The majority of the international community, especially the EU, has refused to withdraw their ISIS jihadists imprisoned in North-East Syria

In order to find a solution to the problem, the Autonomous Administration has been trying for two years to establish an international court to try ISIS criminals. Victims have repeatedly stressed that the acts of the ISIS should, if possible, be condemned where they were committed.

Lawyers also support this proposal, as this would allow access to crime scenes and the participation of witnesses. However, since nothing has been done by the international community to establish such a court, the jihadists in detention continue to pose a serious threat to both Northern and Eastern Syria.

There are approximately 19,000 ISIS members in 16 prisons in the region. There have been numerous escape attempts and riots in the past two years. The insurgencies are escalating, even though they have so far been contained - as in Tabqa, Hol and Hesekê - with the help of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The imprisoned ISIS jihadists pose a threat to both Syria and the world.

The international coalition also provides very limited support in this context. Although it continues to participate in SDF operations against the ISIS, it has so far provided only training services to guard and secure prisoners.

"We do not know what will become of us"

In an interview with the Rojava based ANHA news agency, detained ISIS jihadists have commented on their situation. The Dutch citizen Yasir Muhammed Abdulazim says: "We do not know what will become of us. We want our verdict immediately. In prison we talk all the time about what may come. We don't know why we are not being put on trial. We want to know what is coming. To this end, we are even willing to die if necessary."

Abdulazim was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1978. At the age of twenty he went to the Netherlands, got married and became a citizen there. He is father of six children and joined the ISIS in 2015. He was injured in Raqqa and arrested by the SDF in al-Bagouz. Although he wants to be convicted, he continues to make threats.

"The situation is getting worse"

Adil Iyab, who comes from India, says: "The majority here in prison come from abroad. We want to go back to our countries. If we are convicted, we can go back home. If we are not convicted, there will be even more chaos." Like the other ISIS jihadists, he too threatens terror and insurrection.

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2020 10:59 pm
Author: Anthea
ISIS vows to exploit
US drawdown

Islamic State (ISIS) militants will take advantage of the recent US drawdown in Iraq and Syria to increase attacks on “the crusaders”, ISIS spokesman Abu Hamza al-Qurashi said in an audio statement published Thursday

In the 33-minute recording released on messaging app Telegram, titled “The Crusaders Will Know Who Will Win in the End”, Qurashi claimed the recent wave of attacks is only the start of a much broader campaign to come.

“Our jihadists will start to increase their attacks against the crusaders since the US has withdrawn from Iraq,” Qurashi said. “Our current attacks are only the start of bigger attacks in Iraq and Syria.”

US forces have withdrawn from several Iraqi bases in recent months as part of a general repositioning in response to successes in the campaign to defeat ISIS and to protect personnel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the space of a month, the US-led coalition has handed over control of six military bases to the Iraq Security Forces (ISF), including Abu Ghraib near Baghdad, K1 in Kirkuk, al-Qaim near the Syrian border, Qayyarah in western Iraq, al-Sqoor in Mosul, and Al-Taqaddum in Anbar.

ISIS views the withdrawal as an opportunity to spread its insurgency.

“Greater punishment against crusaders is coming once the caliphate achieves the victory and is established once again,” Qurashi said, referring to the so-called “caliphate” the group established across the Iraq-Syria between 2014 and 2017.

Addressing the “government of infidels in Iraq” directly, Qurashi vowed not a single day will pass without bloodshed.

ISIS seized control of vast swathes of Iraq and Syria at the height of its power between 2014 and 2016.

Although the group was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017 and in Syria in March 2019, ISIS has continued to launch attacks, including kidnappings, assassinations, and ambushes, particularly in rural areas.

ISIS has been held responsible for a spate of attacks on the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and units of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi.

On May 15, the PMF said four of its fighters were killed and six injured in an ISIS attack in northern Diyala.

In a statement on May 14, the PMF said its units had come under attack in Khanaqin, Jurf al-Nasr (formally known as Jurf al-Sakhir), and on the Syrian-Iraqi border in the Akashat area of western Anbar.

On May 15, the Iraqi defense ministry said two of its soldiers were killed and four wounded when their convoy hit an IED in northern Baghdad province. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the blast.

These follow a spate of attacks in early May, the deadliest of which saw ten PMF fighters killed in a five-pronged assault in Saladin on May 2.

On the same day, militants killed three federal police officers and wounded two others in an attack on Zaghniya police station in Diyala province.

These attacks came immediately after the Iraqi parliament approved the new cabinet of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who has made combatting ISIS remnants a cornerstone of his government’s agenda.

In his audio statement, ISIS spokesman Qurashi branded Kadhimi’s administration an “American government” and vowed to fight it just as the group had fought past administrations.

“Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government is an American government and we will fight it same as we fought other Iraqi infidel governments,” Qurashi said. “Iran, infidels of Houthis, and the Iraqi government should be aware that the jihadists will destroy you everywhere in the region.”

However, since Kadhimi took office, three ISIS leaders have been killed in coalition airstrikes in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor.

Iraqi Counter Terrorism Forces (ICT) confirmed the death of senior ISIS figure Mootaz Noman al-Jubouri, known as the wali (governor) of Iraq, in an official statement on Tuesday.

On Friday last week, the US-led coalition confirmed the death of two ISIS leaders in an airstrike.

The strike killed Ahmad ‘Isa Ismail al-Zawi, otherwise known as Abu Ali al-Baghdadi, the terror group’s leader in northern Baghdad, and Ahmad ‘Abd Muhammad Hasan al-Jughayfi, a senior supplies and logistics leader across Iraq and Syria.

Concluding his audio statement, Qurashi addresses ISIS supporters, saying Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, the group’s leader, sends his regards.

Qurashi also says the group will stage mass prison breaks to release ISIS supporters held in Iraq’s jails. A mass prison break could quickly swell the group’s ranks and undo years of counter-terror work.

“Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi is sending greetings and pleased with the recent attacks,” Qurashi said. “He asks the jihadists to set free their fellow jihadists inside the prisons and asks the jihadists inside the prisons to be patient and stay awake.”

On May 15, ISIS published a 49-minute video on Telegram – titled ‘Strike the Necks’ – in which a masked militant holding an assault rifle says ISIS will scale up its attacks on Iraqi police and security forces.

“We came to behead you and burn your houses, and I want to let our brothers and sisters in the prisons of infidels know that we have not forgotten you and we ask you to be patient,” the militant says. “We will come for you, because it is an obligation to set you free from the infidels.”

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Sat Jun 06, 2020 10:06 pm
Author: Anthea
30 ISIS suspects arrested

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have announced the arrest of 30 suspected members of the Islamic State (ISIS) in the first two days of their fresh military operation on the Syria-Iraq border. It also “cleared” around 100 villages in the region from the group, according to an SDF statement

The multi-ethnic SDF announced the launch of operation ‘Deterrence of Terrorism’ on Thursday, following what they describe as thorough information gathering, to “pursue and track the cells of ISIS terrorist organization on the Syrian-Iraqi border,” according to a Friday statement.

SDF commanders said on Friday that 20 ISIS suspects were arrested, but that initial number has since been revised.

“Around 30 Syrian and Iraqi mercenaries [of ISIS] were arrested in the operation,” read another statement from the SDF Friday midnight.

The latest statement also pinpointed the operation as taking place in and around the Syria-Iraq border areas of Hasaka, Baghouz and Deir ez-Zor.

The SDF also confiscated light weapons and IEDs prepared for assassination attacks, and found tunnels of the group.

The operation resulted in a “70 kilometre length and 60 kilometre wide" stretch of land being cleared, "including nearly 100 villages,” the statement said.

No SDF casualties have been reported so far, the statement added.

US-led anti-ISIS coalition spokeperson Colonel Myles B.Caggins III confirmed on Twitter that around 30 ISIS suspects were arrested in the first and second day of the operation, adding that 78 hideouts of ISIS were destroyed.

Around 6,000 SDF fighters are taking part in the military campaign and it is expected to last for about five days, military sources told the SDF-affiliated Ronahi TV — though in their statement, the forces say the operation will continue “until completion of the full mission.”

ISIS took control of swaths of Iraqi and Syrian in 2014, but was declared defeated in the two countries in 2017 and 2019 respectfully.

SDF commander Adnan Afrini told Rudaw TV from the frontlines that “a large number" of ISIS fighters are on the Syria-Iraq border, though he could not provide an estimate.

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2020 9:07 pm
Author: Anthea
SDF operation in Western Kurdistan
66 ISIS members captured

The operation launched on Thursday by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against cells of the terrorist organization ISIS in Western Kurdistan continues

The area of operations covers the regions of Hesekê and Deir ez-Zor, and an advance to the Euphrates on the border with Iraq is planned.

The SDF have advanced 20 kilometres today. They have cleared an 120 km long and 70 km wide area of ISIS cells in total.

On the other hand, 11 ISIS members have been arrested today, alongside a group of suspects, bringing the total number of arrests since the launch of the operation to 66.

Forces of the international coalition against the ISIS are also involved in the operation. The terrorist militia, despite the dismantling of its territorial rule, has experienced a new upsurge with the Turkish invasion of northern and eastern Syria that began last October.

ISIS is also using the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic to reposition itself. Jihadists who had managed to escape to the desert in the Syrian-Iraqi border region during the SDF's "Cizîrê Storm" liberation offensive have able to reorganize themselves largely unhindered. Since then, attacks by ISIS cells have become increasingly frequent in the region.

In Iraq, places in Salahaddin, Diyala, Nineveh and Kirkuk are particularly affected by ISIS attacks. In Syria, attacks are increasing, especially in Deir ez-Zor region. Against this background, the civilian population of eastern Syria had called on the SDF to take effective action against ISIS cells in the region. Religious leaders and tribal representatives also appealed to the SDF to expand the fight against terror. The operation was launched on Thursday morning and is expected to last a week.

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Thu Jun 11, 2020 10:03 pm
Author: Anthea
ISIS women and children

Kurdish authorities in Western Kurdistan officially register ISIS families amid counter-terror operation

Kurdish authorities in Western Kurdistan began officially registering thousands of wives and children of suspected Islamic State (ISIS) fighters at al-Hol camp on Wednesday in a bid to boost security and “improve living conditions” in the camp.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and local security forces, in partnership with the Global Coalition against ISIS, “will be undertaking the process of collecting and registering data of the foreign wives of ISIS members in al-Hol camp.”

    This measure is being taken to preserve security and prevent terrorist acts in our region and around the world
The process will “help improve the living and humanitarian conditions inside al-Hol camp, as well as facilitate coordination with the countries whose nationals reside in the camp and urge them to assume their responsibilities towards their citizens.”

Located in Hasaka province, al-Hol is home to 10,000 ISIS-related foreign nationals - most of whom were arrested during the liberation of the last ISIS bastion of Baghouz in March 2019. Most of the camp residents are women and children.

It is also home to 60,000 Iraqis and Syrians, half of whom are said to be links to the terror group, according to data

The NES and the US officials have called on the international community to repatriate their nationals or help facilitate trials of suspected ISIS members in northeast Syria, known to Kurds as Western Kurdistan. However, only a few countries have responded positively.

NES-affiliated Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reported that the registration process is in conjunction with the second stage of an anti-terror military operation on the Syria-Iraq border, launched by the SDF on Thursday. The operation’s first stage ended on Wednesday and resulted in the arrest of 110 alleged members of ISIS by the SDF, according to a statement from the force.

Sheikhmous Ahmed, who oversees all displacement camps in Western Kurdistan, told Rudaw English late Wednesday that they aim to end the “chaos” created by ISIS women in the camp, referring to escape attempts, arson, attempted murder and attacks on camp officials.

He also said that some of the camp residents have refused to reveal their real identities,even to international organizations.

Zilan Nebo, an official responsible for the registration told ANHA that authorities are fingerprinting and photographing the women, as well as taking iris scans and DNA tests.

“Our aim is to make the international community hear us and realize that their nationals are in our camps so that they help us logistically and in other terms,” she added.

The process is expected to be completed within two to three days, according to Ahmed.

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:20 pm
Author: Anthea
ISIS attack targets Kakai Kurds

Gunmen stormed a village near Iraq's border with Iran Saturday, killing at least seven people and injuring four others

Kadhim Pirouli, a member of a village council in Khanaqin, told Rudaw the attack targeted a family of Kakai Kurds, killing four, and two other Kakai Kurds from the same village, as well as a member of security forces who responded to the firefight.

"Units of federal police and Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces) later arrived at the scene and a fight broke out," Pirouli said. "Four other people were wounded, after the gunmen targeted the people and Iraqi units in the area with snipers," Pirouli added.

Hussein Ali, the deputy head of Khanaqin General Hospital, told Rudaw that the people wounded in Saturday night's attack in the village of Dara were transferred to Baquba to receive medical treatment.

"Two of the injured were sent to Baquba to receive treatment and the wounds of the other three were not critical," Ali said.

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.

Located northeast of Khanaqin in Iraq's eastern Diyala province, the area is populated by members of the Kakai minority who are ethnically Kurdish and hold unique spiritual beliefs, with roots that cross over borders that today delineate Iraqi and Iranian Kurdistan.

The Ministry of Peshmerga released a statement on Sunday accusing the Islamic State (ISIS) of being behind the attack, and called on the Iraqi Security forces to protect all civilians in the area.

“The Ministry of Peshmerga strongly condemns such heinous crimes and calls on the Iraqi forces to protect the homes of innocent civilians, regardless of their ethnic or religious differences, and to ensure the safety of the people living within these areas,” the statement read.

“We have repeatedly warned of the absence of Peshmerga forces in these areas and the threat of a security vacuum between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army,” the statement added.

The ministry also called on Baghdad to resume their talks with Peshmerga forces in Erbil to fill the security vacuum in the disputed territories.

Khanaqin lies in one of the several sparsely-populated areas of Iraq disputed between the central government in Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil. Because the final status of the ethnically diverse and resource-rich areas was never permanently settled, a vacuum of uncertainty has opened up that ISIS has been able to exploit to continue launching attacks.

ISIS first swept into Iraq in 2014, capturing cities across northern and central Iraq including Mosul, Iraq's second largest city and the capital of Nineveh province. At the height of its power, ISIS controlled a contiguous area equivalent in size to the United Kingdom. During their occupation of Iraq and Syria, ISIS subjected as many ten million people to an extreme and violent interpretation of Islam.

Although Baghdad declared the territorial defeat of the group in Iraq in December 2017, its remnants have since reverted to insurgency tactics; ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations.

"ISIS used to hold 110,000 square kilometers of territory. Now they hold zero, and we assess that they cannot hold physical territory, but they are able to have a low level insurgency where they can conduct crimes and harass people and [launch] small attacks," US Army Colonel Myles Caggins III told Rudaw English in an interview in April.

"We know that they are conducting criminal activity, mostly to get money. ISIS is broke. They can't pay their fighters like they used to be able to pay their fighters. So they're stealing cows, they're stealing sheep," said Col. Caggins, spokesperson for the anti-ISIS coalition forces.

"They can hide in caves and then come out of the caves at night and harass people in the villages.”

ISIS has always referred to Kakais as “infidels” in its weekly al-Naba newsletter, which is usually published by the group's propaganda channels on Telegram messaging app.

“Our security units on May 5 have detained the Mukhtar of Mekhas village who is from Kakai infidel community, and after investigation with him, he was killed by our fighters’ bullets,” reads a statement published in al-Naba newsletter on May 9.

Ahmed Mustafa, a commander of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces told Rudaw on Saturday that ISIS militants are active in the area, but other militias who are against Kurds' presence in the disputed areas are also present in the area.

"It is true that there are Daesh [ISIS] militants in the area and they are active, but targeting Kurds and deserting Kurdish villages by force and killing Kurds in these areas is also the job of other militias who harbour hatred toward Kurds' existence in these areas," Mustafa said.

Jabar Yawar, chief of staff at the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, warned earlier in April that the ISIS resurgence has been underway for some time.

According to Peshmerga’s monitoring of ISIS, the group has increased its activities in 2018 and 2019, especially in Kurdish-poulated areas outside KRG administration, including Diyala, Hamrin, Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, and Qarachogh. “In Qarachogh, they even established bases," Yawar told Rudaw.

Talks are underway between Erbil and Baghdad to resume security cooperation in the disputed territories to stop the ISIS resurgence in the area. ... ck14062020

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2020 5:06 pm
Author: Anthea
ISIS militants launch fresh riots

Suspected Islamic State (ISIS) militants rioted inside a prison in Hasaka province on Monday, the latest of several disturbances at the facility

Detainees at Sanaa prison, run by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Hasaka’s Geweran neighborhood reportedly began rioting on Monday night.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that a riot erupted as prisoners demanded “fair trials” and to see their families.

According to SOHR, the prisoners tried to break down the walls and doors of the prison, with “casualties” reported.

US-led coalition helicopters were flying over the city at “low altitude”, the monitor added.

The prison has seen several disturbances in recent months, with two riots taking place in March. More riots took place in May.

Somewhere between 3,000-5000 prisoners from around 50 nationalities are held in the prison, most of whom were detained by Kurdish and coalition forces in the last ISIS stronghold of Baghouz in March 2019.

Syria’s official state news agency SANA reported that the riot erupted after a “senior US official” visited the prison.

SDF-affiliated new agency NPA shared footage of military reinforcements arriving at the prison to control the scene.

Kurdish forces have repeatedly called on the international community to take responsibility for foreign ISIS militants held in SDF-run prisons, as well as their families housed in nearby camps.

“We believe that the international coalition forces and the international community have a responsibility to find a solution to the issue of detained ISIS members, provide more support for greater security measures, and improve the conditions of detainees inside prisons in northern and eastern Syria,” SDF spokesperson Kino Gabriel said on May 3.

Re: ISIS growing stronger in Middle East

PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:57 am
Author: Anthea
How ISIS makes money

Italy finds €1bn of amphetamines 'made to fund ISIS'

Counterfeit Captagon is reportedly one of the most popular drugs in the Middle East

Italian police have seized what they believe is a world-record haul of 14 tonnes of amphetamines they suspect were made in Syria to finance the jihadist group Islamic State (ISIS).

About 84 million counterfeit Captagon pills worth an estimated €1bn ($1.1bn; £0.9bn) were found in containers at the port of Salerno.

They were hidden inside large drums of paper and gear wheels.

Officers are looking into whether local Camorra crime groups are involved.

Captagon is a brand name for the synthetic stimulant fenethylline. It was originally used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, but many countries banned it during the 1980s because of its addictive properties.

Now, counterfeit Captagon is reportedly one of the most popular drugs among affluent youths in the Middle East, particularly in Gulf Arab states.

The drug has also been consumed by combatants in the civil war in Syria, including ISIS militants, who value its ability to inhibit fear and ward off tiredness.

Syria is believed to be the biggest producer and exporter of counterfeit Captagon.

A Naples police statement said ISIS - which once controlled large swathes of Syria and is thought to still have thousands of members operating inside the country - was suspected of making large quantities of the drug in areas where it exerted influence "in order to quickly accumulate substantial funding".

The pills seized in Salerno were sufficient to satisfy the entire European market, and it was likely that a "consortium" of criminal groups would have been involved in their distribution across the continent.

"The hypothesis is that during the [coronavirus] lockdown... production and distribution of synthetic drugs in Europe has practically stopped," the statement added.

"Many smugglers, even in consortiums, have turned to Syria where production, however, does not seem to have slowed down."

Re: ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2020 12:28 am
Author: Anthea
Baghdad and Erbil join amid ISIS surge

Iraq and the Kurdistan Region reached an agreement on Thursday to resume joint military work in territories they both claim, in a bid to curb a continued Islamic State (ISIS) resurgence

The agreement was reached at a high-level meeting between Iraq's defense ministry and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.

"Talks were held and an agreement was reached to reactivate the work of the joint coordination committees on both sides, and to resume the exchange of intelligence concerning ISIS," Brig. Gen. Tahsin Khafaji, spokesperson for Iraqi Joint Operations Command told Rudaw.

Thursday's resolution came two weeks after ISIS militants stormed the village of Dara in Khanaqin, a district near the Iranian border. Militants from the extremist militant group killed six Kakai Kurds and a member of the security forces who responded to the firefight.

The deadly attack immediately prompted federal and Kurdistan Region leaders, including Iraqi President Barham Salih and KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, to urge "coordination" between security forces, including the Kurdistan Region's Peshmerga forces, the Shiite-majority Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and the Iraqi army to purge the group's presence in the disputed territories.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces withdrew from most of the disputed territories of northern Iraq in October 2017, when Baghdad launched a major operation to retake the area's security weeks after the Kurdistan Region held an independence referendum.

The two sides have since had a rocky military relationship, failing to lay out plans to jointly run the security of the area, creating a security vacuum in which ISIS militants have been able to run rife.

The Peshmerga delegation visiting Baghdad consisted of Jamal Iminiki, Chief of Staff of the Peshmerga Armed Forces and Jabar Yawar, the general secretary of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.

Yawar told Rudaw that today's meeting was held "at the request of the Iraqi side".

The two sides "talked about joint military operations against ISIS in the disputed areas, as well as establishing joint forces or joint defense forces," Yawar said of the meeting.

Iraqi defense delegations will visit Erbil by the end of July, he added, for further talks on "establishing a mechanism on how to move forward."