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ISIS growing stronger and more organised in Middle East

PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:25 pm
Author: Anthea
ISIS growing strong
again in Iraq and Syria

The past couple of weeks have seen several reports of Islamic State (ISIS) resurgence in Iraq and Syria. The jihadis are apparently regrouping, taxing isolated rural communities, mounting a growing number of attacks (including one in which a US soldier was killed in Nineveh last week), and reorganizing for a guerrilla war as they did prior to 2014

A new report from the Inspector General of the US Department of Defense claims ISIS can still count on 14,000 to 18,000 fighters across Iraq and Syria. The report is scathing towards President Donald Trump’s decision to abruptly scale down the already limited number of US troops in Syria and to withdraw many diplomatic personnel from Iraq – blaming these moves for the resurgence.

When Brett McGurk, the American Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (the American term for ISIS), resigned in December following Trumps Syria withdrawal announcement, he warned his policies would lead to chaos and “an environment for extremists to thrive”. Other top officials also chose to resign over the move, including then-defense secretary Jim Mattis. All strenuously disagreed with Trump’s “mission accomplished” and “let’s move on” attitude.

Why is countering ISIS in Iraq and Syria proving so difficult?

In places like Afghanistan, with its rugged high mountains, low levels of development, and a population that is seventy percent rural, one can understand the serious challenges of counter-insurgency. Syria and Iraq, however, are comparatively much more developed and seventy percent urban. The areas where ISIS operates are also quite flat, depriving them of the rugged mountainous terrain that is so helpful to insurgents.

Nor does the United States always fail in establishing stability following a war. After World War II and the Korean War, the Americans retained a commitment to building new, functioning governments in Germany, Japan, and South Korea. Although they faced insurgent attacks (mainly in Germany) after these wars, they remained committed to rebuilding these post conflict societies and the resultant pro-American success stories they became.

In Iraq as well, the US decision in 2006 to foster and partner with allied Sunni forces – the Sahwa Awakening Councils or “sons of Iraq” Sunni tribal militia – ended the al Qaeda insurgency there. When the US abruptly withdrew in December 2011, however, the Iraqi government under Nouri al-Maliki quickly abandoned the Awakening Councils (ending their salary payments and failing to incorporate them or their communities into Iraq’s governing system) and even turned on the Sunnis in general. The result came just three and a half years later, with ISIS capturing Mosul and most of Sunni Arab Iraq.

Along with precipitous withdrawals, it is perhaps Washington’s insufficient commitment to supporting good governance, federalism, and power sharing in Iraq (and conceivably Syria) that accounts for a bigger insurgency problem than projected. Iraq in particular has revenue of its own, but without real power sharing that revenue and the ability to rebuild never makes it to the post-conflict areas that need it most.

Nineveh, Kirkuk, Saladin, Anbar, and other war-battered areas still lie in ruins. In Syria, the same is true of Raqqa and other former ISIS strongholds. In Syria, the Kurdish-led administration and its forces remain isolated, embargoed, and without any financial means to effectively administer the liberated areas. In Iraq, Sunni Arab areas still lack the autonomy of Kurdistan or a significant role in Baghdad, meaning they have little say over the institutions that administer them.

Especially in regions with many sectarian divisions, high levels of power sharing, decentralization and the financial means for local administrations to function well remain crucial for post-conflict reconstruction and stability. While not perfect, the Bosnian example shows that this approach remains viable.

Unless Washington commits more to northeastern Syria and pushes Baghdad to respect its own decentralizing and federal constitution, however, the hydra of jihadist insurgency and instability in general will keep haunting the area and calling America back.

The American commitment need not be on the scale of the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe or the never-ending placement of troops in South Korea. It just needs to play smart and take its existing efforts a little more seriously.

Re: BEWARE ISIS is making a comeback in Iraq and Syria?

PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:21 am
Author: Anthea
Islamic State says will step up
fight against Syrian Kurds

The Islamic State group vowed to intensify its fight against the US-led coalition and Kurds in eastern Syria, in a video posted Sunday on its Telegram channel

“The fire of the battle between us and them has been reignited and will intensify,” the jihadist group said, addressing what it called “soldiers of Islam” and residents of the caliphate.

ISIS took swathes of oil-rich land in Iraq and Syria in a lightning 2014 offensive.

The Kurdish forces expelled the Islamic State group from its last patch of territory in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz in March 2019.

But ISIS retains sleeper cells and has orchestrated a series of car bomb and arson attacks in eastern and northeastern Syria since its territorial defeat.

In Sunday’s video — the second since the fall of Baghouz — ISIS accused coalition countries of having entrapped its local adversaries, including the Kurds.

“They have been thrown into the flames of a fierce war that will leave them without tail or head,” ISIS warned.

The video includes decapitations and the shooting to death at close range of people presented as kidnapped Kurdish fighters.

ISIS released a video in late April — shortly after claiming deadly attacks in Sri Lanka — in which leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi purportedly appeared, pledging vengeance and a “long battle” ahead.

A US Defence Department report said this month that ISIS was “resurging” in Syria, while it had “solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq”.

Re: ISIS is becoming strong again in Iraq and Syria?

PostPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2019 11:31 am
Author: Anthea
Iraqi counter-terror force kills
10 ISIS militants in Anbar

Ten Islamic State (ISIS) militants were killed and five others arrested in Anbar province, western Iraq on Tuesday night, Iraq's Counter-Terror Service (ICTS) announced, as operations aiming to quell the threat of the group's resurgence in the country continue

"As the First Tactical Unit from the Counter-Terrorism Service, and in coordination with the [US-led] coalition's airpower, we carried out [operations] in Wadi Hauran desert areas in Rutba, western Anbar," read a statement from the ICTS on Tuesday.

Wadi Hauran is on the outskirts of the town of Rutba, 420 kilometers from Baghdad.

The overnight operation was launched following the collection of "accurate intelligence," and used "multiple air strikes" to "track down the remnants of the ISIS terrorist gangs," the statement added.

Two of the ten militants killed were wearing explosive belts, and several hideouts were destroyed, the statement detailed.

According to a US Department of Defense report to US Congress published in early August, ISIS are “working to rebuild their capabilities” in western deserts of Anbar and other parts of Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi troops recently launched a string of operations across several provinces to quell the ISIS resurgence.

The third phase of Operation Will of Victory, targeting ISIS remnants in Diyala and Nineveh provinces, ended on August 9, while a one-day sweep of the southern Kirkuk region, dubbed "New Dawn," took place on August 4.

An ISIS commander alleged to have committed "heinous crimes" against civilians was captured by Iraqi forces in southwestern Kirkuk on Monday night, it announced, along with six other militants.

ISIS seized vast areas of Iraq and Syria in the summer of 2014. Although Iraq’s former prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the group defeated in Iraq in December 2017, ISIS remnants and sleeper cells remain active, returning to their earlier insurgency tactics.

Their resurgence has been particularly apparent in areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, where contention over control of territory has created security vacuums open to exploitation.

“ISIS is rebuilding in remote territory, which is hard for Iraqi forces to secure,” the report to Congress said, and is “able to recruit in these areas [Iraq’s northern and western provinces] using family and tribal connections.”

Despite warnings of a fierce resurgence, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said on Friday that Iraqi forces have yet to encounter “real resistance” from ISIS militants in recent operations.

Exactly how many innocent people did they kill during their multiple air strikes to kill a mere 10 ISIS members?

As we all saw in Mosul, when it comes to the coalition air strikes on ISIS, the cure is often worse than the cancer of ISIS

I was brought up to believe that 2 wrongs can never make a right

Re: How many innocent people died in latest anti ISIS bombin

PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:42 pm
Author: Anthea
Terrified by ISIS resurgence
Daquq villagers appeal to Baghdad

A group of Kurdish villagers from Daquq, southern Kirkuk headed to Baghdad last week to demand government action to protect them from the Islamic State (ISIS) resurgence underway in their province. One week on and little has changed

“We visited the interior minister and Iraqi president in Baghdad. We told them that if they do not find a solution for us we will abandon our villages. We also told them that people – young and old – are terrified,” said Aziz Abu Khanjar, a resident of the Kakai village of Topzawa who was part of the delegation.

The delegation of villagers called on Baghdad to protect them or else allow them to protect themselves. Villagers who spoke to Rudaw say they have not yet given up hope of Iraqi officials delivering on their promises to help.

Iraqi President Barham Salih formed a committee to visit these villages and prepare a report for him, according to Dilan Ghafour, a Kurdish lawmaker in Baghdad who accompanied the delegation. The findings of the committee are yet to be published.

There was no statement from Iraqi Presidency regarding the visit.

ISIS appears to be specifically targeting the Kakais, who have 15 villages in Daquq. The Kakais are a Kurdish ethno-religious group concentrated in Daquq, Khanaqin, and Nineveh. They protected themselves against an ISIS offensive in 2014 after Iraqi troops fled the area.

Saeed Hawaz is a resident of the Kakai village of Saeed Walla in Daquq. He says they abandon their villages during the night, fearing ISIS attack.

“We have livestock and farms here. We come to work on these in daylight but we cannot stay for the night because it is not secure,” Hawaz said.

ISIS seized control of swathes of territory across in Iraq 2014. The group was declared defeated by former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi in December 2017. However, remnants of the group have returned to earlier insurgency tactics.

The group has attacked security forces in Daquq four times in two weeks, planting roadside bombs and firing mortars at villages.

One Wednesday, ISIS claimed responsibility for Monday’s killing of four Iraqi policemen in Daquq. Federal police have only confirmed the death of one, named as Yasir Mohammed.

Iraqi forces launched an operation against the group following the incident.

A Pentagon report in early August warned that “ISIS is rebuilding in remote territory, which is hard for Iraqi forces to secure,” and is “able to recruit in these areas [Iraq’s northern and western provinces] using family and tribal connections”.

Iraqi security forces have launched several operations to eradicate ISIS remnants and sleeper cells in areas bordering Syria and Kurdistan Region.

Re: ISIS is regrouping NO surprise camps full of ISIS suppor

PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2019 10:51 pm
Author: Anthea
The coalition were only interested in bombing where the thought ISIS might have been

The coalition's practise of ad hoc bombing has slaughtered many thousands of people

Bomb everyone and let God sort them out, is NOT a good policy

It certainly does not win friends and influence people

I have a great deal more respect for the Kurds than any of the coalition - the Kurds were generally within viewing distance of ISIS and far less likely of killing innocent people

I expect that the destruction of property and needless slaughter of innocent people by the coalition, has won ISIS support

The fact that coalition countries were only interested in killing and have taken no part in rebuilding and making habitable that which they helped to destroy has probably lost them local support

Look at the poor Yazidis =((

The coalition waited until thousands had already been already been killed before it rushed in to bomb the area to oblivion

And even now the coalition has FAILED to donade the cost of even one bomb to the rebuilding of that which they helped to destroyed

The Yazidis still live in fear and the coalition have turned their backs on them

Re: ISIS is regrouping NO surprise camps full of ISIS suppor

PostPosted: Fri Aug 16, 2019 9:17 pm
Author: Anthea
Five years after Yazidi genocide
US warns ISIS is rebounding

ISIS is trying to make a comeback in Iraq and Syria

It has established a more stable command network in Iraq, and is trying to exploit divisions on the ground and the absence of security forces in border areas and at camps in Syria for internally displaced persons (IDPs), according to a new U.S. report.

The troubling news comes on the fifth anniversary of ISIS’s worst crimes, carried out in August 2014, when the Salafi jihadist militant group kidnapped and murdered thousands of Yazidis in northern Iraq.

In 2013 and early 2014, members of the Islamic State seemed to simply emerge from the desert of Iraq and Syria to threaten both countries. By the summer of 2014 they had taken control of major cities such as Mosul and Raqqa and, five years ago this month, began a targeted genocide of the Yazidi minority.

What lessons have been learned in five years of war? And can a war-weary America still do what may be necessary to support minorities in Iraq, such as the Yazidis, to recover from ISIS?

The Department of Defense Lead Inspector General report, released Aug. 6, shows that ISIS is trying to lay the groundwork for another resurgence. Genocide survivors are warning that this must not be allowed to happen. Nadia Murad, who was kidnapped by ISIS in 2014, was in Washington in July to press for more support for survivors and her Yazidi community.

This was in the context of the gathering of representatives from 106 countries in the U.S. as part of the administration’s commitment to religious freedom, at which Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. is committed to defending religious freedom at home and abroad.

Such a commitment creates a complicated challenge for the U.S. role in Iraq and Syria. Because the U.S. wants to withdraw from Syria in the long term, it is trying to reduce its military footprint while training local security forces. They now number around 100,000 and the U.S. hopes that number will rise to 110,000 by the winter. Most of these are members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or local security forces affiliated with them.

However, their numbers are still not strong enough to fully secure detention camps where many ISIS supporters ended up after ISIS was partly defeated in March when the anti-ISIS coalition took back the terrorist group’s land. Around 10,000 ISIS fighters are being held in Syria, 2,000 of them foreigners. Yet there are an estimated 15,000 ISIS fighters still at large in Syria and Iraq, according James Jeffrey, the U.S. anti-ISIS envoy.

ISIS uses border areas of Iraq and Syria to move in small groups and it exploits divisions, between Kurds and Arabs and between states and regions, to find places it can establish bases. Of concern, the Pentagon report says that Iraq’s fleet of drones is mostly inoperable because of needed maintenance and other problems, reducing its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance ability in areas where security forces are not present.

Five years after the world woke up to the horrors in Sinjar, where ISIS was massacring men and kidnapping women and children, the necessity to counter ISIS remains. An estimated 3,000 women and children are still missing.

The situation was brought into stark contrast by a crisis this month between the U.S. and Turkey that threatened to upend U.S. policy in Syria. A tenuous agreement to forestall a Turkish operation in Syria, which would have distracted the SDF from anti-ISIS operations, was put together on Aug. 7.

This fall represents a clear crossroads in the U.S. desire to see the total defeat of ISIS. With a commitment of limited forces, ISIS mostly has been defeated. But the lesson of 2014 resonates — that is, ISIS can reorganize quickly and burst onto the scene if security forces in Iraq and Syria, partnered with the U.S., don’t keep constant tabs on enemy movements and its attempts to regroup. ... rebounding

Re: ISIS growing strong again in Iraq and Syria

PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 2:19 pm
Author: Fullback34
I'm afraid that the issue is that the Syrian and Iraqi govt forces and Kurdish militias are as strong militarily as ISIS and other Jihadi groups... The Western coalition and Russia do launch airstrikes, but their rate has decreased, and planes can't clear out towns, reeducate kids who grew up under ISIS, rebuild infrastructure or ensure the people aren't being taxed by Jihadis to finance their war effort; even if we all know that billions of dollars are coming to ISIS from the south. Riyadh and Iran are playing chess in Syria and Iraq, and Turkey's random bouts of repression and invasion don't help.

It'd take a strong military force to crush ISIS definitely and provide boots on the ground, but who's going to do it? The USA and Russia have their own interests which aren't necessarily the same ones as the Kurds and other Syrians and Iraqis have, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran won't intervene in fear of escalating the conflict (and would just help their allies and make everyone else's life worse), and neither the Kurds, or Assad, or the Iraqi government, can make a powerful army pop out of nowhere.

Right now, it's sad, but I don't see a quick and easy way to solve that conflict... Everyone's already losing politically apart from the Kurds who have liberated some terrain (but that only annoys the other parties even more), and noone can bring a military victory. The """best""" realistic scenario would be for the war to slow down like it did in the Donbass, but it's far from being desirable.

Re: ISIS growing strong again in Iraq and Syria

PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 7:31 pm
Author: Anthea
Baghdadi Death
Will NOT stop ISIS

Baghdadi Death Kills the Islamic State Chief But Not the Group

(Bloomberg) -- The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi solidifies the transformation of the world’s most feared terrorist organization into a more conventional threat -- an extremist ideological movement rather than a state-like entity.

Islamic State had already become a more scattered movement before Baghdadi’s death during a raid by U.S. special forces soldiers. It had lost most of the land it once held in Iraq and Syria as a result of a multi-year U.S.-led campaign. It soldiers were locked up in jails, watched by Kurdish guards.

But while Baghdadi’s guidance had allowed Islamic State to maintain a sense of central command -- and his claims to a God-given right to rule will make it difficult to replace him -- it’s premature to say Islamic State is a spent force. That’s especially true in other parts of the world where it has continued to carry out attacks.

“The successor will be someone suited to their current needs: a military leader with a jihadist pedigree who can signal a strong transition,” said Amarnath Amarasingam, assistant professor at Queens University and fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London.

Baghdadi’s death could become a rallying cry for his supporters to show the U.S. and others that it remains a force to be reckoned with. The question is whether there is capacity still for large-scale reprisals.

“We may see a small uptick in attacks, but that is to be expected and should not be confused with strength,” Amarasingam said. “We may see just as many supporters who basically fade away after his death and move on with their lives.”

Islamic State, Al-Qaeda Hunker Down to Rebuild in Weaker Nations

According to Islamic State ideology, the leader of Islamic State should meet several criteria: among them that he should be able to rule over physical territory and claim descent from the tribe of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.

The first has largely ceased to be the case, while the second makes it possible that Baghdadi could be replaced by a tactical commander rather than a caliph, or leader of the Islamic world, which Baghdadi claimed to be.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who led the fight against Islamic State on the ground in Syria, said on Twitter on Sunday that a joint operation with the U.S. had also targeted Islamic State’s spokesman Abul Hassan Al Muhajir near Jarablus in north western Syria. It did not give further detail. Abul Hassan would be one potential successor for Baghdadi.

Islamic State Head Who Inspired World Fear Dies on Run from U.S.

Whoever that person is, he’ll be issuing statements to a loose network of followers while on the run and in hiding. That’s a far cry from Baghdadi’s heyday, when his proclamations were governance edicts for conquered territory and the group had a self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa, Syria.

But Western intelligence officials note that the group has since late 2017 already devolved more responsibility to local offshoots which had previously been managed centrally. That’s empowered affiliates outside the Middle East, particularly in weakened states in north and central Africa, as well as lone-wolf attackers who have pledged allegiance to the group as they carried out assaults elsewhere, including in Europe, Asia and the U.S.

Islamic State, Largely Defeated at Home, Is Rebuilding in Africa

“The underlying geopolitical conditions that allowed ISIS to emerge in the first place will remain for the foreseeable future, which Baghdadi’s followers will be able to exploit to stage a comeback,” said Kamran Bokhari, founding director of the Center for Global Policy in Washington. “So, it is a race against time.”

As an August attack in Afghanistan that killed more than 60 people underscored, Islamic State affiliates can carry out deadly strikes, gain support and establish footholds from Sri Lanka to Nigeria. Nathan Sales, the State Department’s coordinator for counter terrorism, said at the time of the Afghan attack that even without the so-called caliphate, “the ISIS brand lives on around the world.”

Islamic State, Al-Qaeda Hunker Down to Rebuild in Weaker Nations

The United Nations warned in a July report that the risk of attacks from Islamic State “remains high.” Like al-Qaeda, which came under pressure from the U.S. following the 2001 terror attacks, Islamic State has adjusted its strategies for fundraising, striking and tapping the Internet and social media.

One key goal for the U.S. after the Baghdadi killing will be to use the material obtained from his compound to gain fresh intelligence on the inner workings of the group so Washington can carry out further strikes, Bokhari said.

Lawmakers Shower Praise on U.S. Forces After Al-Baghdadi Death

Other questions remain about the group’s future, especially after President Donald Trump pulled U.S. troops out of the way in Syria and allowed a Turkish offensive against Kurdish militants. Kurds made up the front-line force in the battles against Islamic State when it still controlled territory on the ground.

Most important, it’s unclear what will happen to thousands of Islamic State detainees once held by the Kurds, and whether enough of them could escape or be freed to constitute a revived threat amid the chaos of Syria’s long civil war.

Why What Happens in Syria Matters Beyond Its Borders: QuickTake

“It would be foolhardy and premature to pen the obituary of ISIS. The organization is still resilient,” said Fawaz Gerges, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics.

“It has thousands of fighters in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and beyond. It has already morphed into a lethal insurgency,” he said. “It carries out scores of attacks in Iraq and Syria and elsewhere. It has become decentralized. Regional lieutenants are in charge of their own fiefdoms.”

Much depends on who comes next

“Al-Baghdadi got old and slow-- and found his demise,” said Paul Sullivan, a Middle East expert at the National Defense University in Washington. “ISIS, like the mafias that they closely resemble, will find a replacement. The successor may be worse than Baghdadi.” ... -1.1338285

Re: ISIS growing strong again in Iraq and Syria

PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 7:39 pm
Author: Anthea
Syria Kurds expect ISIS revenge

Syria's Kurdish forces said they expected revenge attacks by the Islamic State group following the US announcement Sunday that the jihadist organisation's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed

"Sleeper cells will seek revenge for Baghdadi's death," Mazloum Abdi, the top commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces -- the de facto army of the Kurdish administration that holds thousands of ISIS fighters in custody -- told AFP.

"This is why anything is possible, including attacks on prisons," he said.

The SDF, who were the US-led coalition's main partner on the ground in Syria during years of operations against ISIS, hold an estimated 12,000 IS suspects in a number of different facilities in northeastern Syria.

An SDF-led operation eliminated the last scrap of ISIS's self-proclaimed "caliphate" -- which once covered vast territory in Syria and Iraq -- in March.

The territorial defeat of the jihadist group did not however mean the death of the organisation or its ideology.

Small units of fighters have since gone underground and continued to carry out guerrilla-style attacks in the region.

US President Donald Trump, who announced Baghdadi's death in a solemn address from the White House Sunday, had said last year that he intended to pull his troops from Syria.

US forces have indeed withdrawn from some areas in northern Syria, although they are remaining in regions of eastern Syria that include oil wells.

The vacuum created by the US redeployment and a subsequent operation launched by Turkey and its proxies against Kurdish forces has heightened fears of mass ISIS prison breaks.

Attacking jails to free large numbers of senior operatives has been a signature tactic in resurgence drives by ISIS's earlier iterations.

Trump thanked the Syrian Kurds "for certain support they were able to give us" in the operation against Baghdadi.

Mazloum had said in an earlier post on social media that the operation against the ISIS supremo had resulted from joint intelligence work.

In a thinly veiled accusation against Turkey, Mazloum told AFP that the village of Barisha where the raid happened "is an area near the Turkish border and is known for border smuggling facilitated by Ankara."

He said that Turkey was not involved in the operation.

Redur Khalil, a top SDF commander, said that "senior ISIS leaders, including Baghdadi, were present in areas under Turkish control" in Idlib.

Turkey's cross-border offensive against Syria's Kurds "delayed the operation to kill Baghdadi by one month," he said.

He pledged that SDF operations against ISIS sleeper cells will continue following Baghdadi's death. ... dadi-death

Re: ISIS growing strong again in Iraq and Syria

PostPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2019 10:20 pm
Author: Anthea
Who was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the jihadist group Islamic State (ISIS) and arguably the world's most wanted man, killed himself during a raid by US commandos in north-western Syria, President Donald Trump has said


The self-styled "Caliph Ibrahim" had a $25m (£19m) bounty on his head and had been pursued by the US and its allies since the rise of ISIS five years ago.

At its peak, ISIS controlled 88,000 sq km (34,000 sq miles) of territory stretching from western Syria to eastern Iraq, imposed its brutal rule on almost eight million people, and generated billions of dollars in revenue from oil, extortion and kidnapping.

But despite the demise of its physical caliphate and its leader, IS remains a battle-hardened and well-disciplined force whose enduring defeat is not assured.

'The believer'

Baghdadi - whose real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Badri - was born in 1971 in the central Iraqi city of Samarra.

His religious Sunni Arab family claimed to be descended from the Prophet Muhammad's Quraysh tribe - something generally held by pre-modern Sunni scholars as being a key qualification for becoming a caliph.

As a teenager, he was nicknamed "the believer" by relatives because of the time he spent at the local mosque learning how to recite the Koran and because he would often chastise those failing to abide by Islamic law, or Sharia.

After finishing school in the early 1990s he moved to the capital, Baghdad. He gained a master's degree in Islamic studies before embarking on a PhD at the Islamic University of Baghdad, according to a biography published by supporters.

While a student, he lived near a Sunni mosque in Baghdad's north-western Tobchi district. He is said to have been a quiet man who kept to himself, except for when he taught Koranic recitation and played football for the mosque's club. Baghdadi is also believed to have embrace Salafism and jihadism during this time.

'Jihadist university'

Following the US-led invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein in 2003, Baghdadi reportedly helped found an Islamist insurgent group called Jamaat Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wa-l-Jamaah that attacked US troops and their allies. Within the group, he was the head of the Sharia committee.

In early 2004, Baghdadi was detained by US troops in the city of Falluja, west of Baghdad, and was taken to a detention centre at Camp Bucca in the south.

Camp Bucca became what has been described as a "university" for the future leaders of ISIS, with inmates becoming radicalised and developing important contacts and networks.

Baghdadi reportedly led prayers, delivered sermons and taught religious classes while in detention, and was sometimes asked to mediate in disputes by the prison's US administrator. He was considered a low-level threat by the US and was released after 10 months.

"He was a street thug when we picked him up in 2004," a Pentagon official told the New York Times in 2014. "It's hard to imagine we could have had a crystal ball then that would tell us he'd become head of [ISIS]."

Rebuilding al-Qaeda in Iraq

After leaving Camp Bucca, Baghdadi is believed to have come into contact with the newly formed al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Under the leadership of the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, AQI became a major force in the Iraqi insurgency and gained notoriety for its brutal tactics, including beheadings.

In early 2006, AQI created a jihadist umbrella organisation called the Mujahideen Shura Council, which Baghdadi's group pledged allegiance to and joined.

Later that year, following Zarqawi's death in a US air strike, the organisation changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). Baghdadi supervised the ISI's Sharia committees and joined its consultative Shura Council.

When ISI's leader Abu Umar al-Baghdadi died in a US raid in 2010 along with his deputy Abu Ayyub al-Masri, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named his successor.

He inherited an organisation that US commanders believed to be on the verge of a strategic defeat. But with the help of several Saddam-era military and intelligence officers, among them fellow former Camp Bucca inmates, he gradually rebuilt ISI.

'Caliph Ibrahim'

By early 2013, it was once again carrying out dozens of attacks a month in Iraq. It had also joined the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, sending Syrian militants back from Iraq to set up the al-Nusra Front as al-Qaeda's affiliate in the country. There, they found a safe haven and easy access to weapons.

That April, Baghdadi announced the merger of his forces in Iraq and Syria and the creation of "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant" (ISIS/ISIL). The leaders of al-Nusra and al-Qaeda rejected the move, but fighters loyal to Baghdadi split from al-Nusra and helped ISIS remain in Syria.

At the end of 2013, ISIS shifted its focus back to Iraq and exploited a political stand-off between the Shia-led government and the minority Sunni Arab community. Aided by tribesmen and former Saddam Hussein loyalists, ISIS overran Falluja.

In June 2014, several hundred ISIS militants overran the northern city of Mosul, routing the Iraqi army, and then advanced southwards towards Baghdad, massacring their adversaries and threatening to eradicate the country's many ethnic and religious minorities.

At the end of the month, after consolidating its hold over dozens of Iraqi cities and towns, ISIS declared the creation of a "caliphate" - a state governed in accordance with Sharia by God's deputy on Earth, or caliph - and renamed itself "Islamic State". It proclaimed Baghdadi as "Caliph Ibrahim" and demanded allegiance from Muslims worldwide.

Five days later, a video was released showing Baghdadi delivering a sermon at Mosul's Great Mosque of al-Nuri - his first public appearance on camera.

In the formal address that experts said bore similarities to those by caliphs in first centuries of Islam, Baghdadi enjoined Muslims to emigrate to ISIS territory in order to carry out a war for the faith against unbelievers. Tens of thousands of foreigners went on to heed the call.

Just over a month later, an advance by ISIS militants into areas controlled by Iraq's Kurdish ethnic minority and the killing or enslaving of thousands of the Yazidi religious group, prompted a US-led multinational coalition to launch an air campaign against the jihadists in Iraq. It started conducting air strikes in Syria that September, after ISIS beheaded several Western hostages.

ISIS welcomed the prospect of direct confrontation with the US-led coalition, viewing it as a harbinger of an end-of-times showdown between Muslims and their enemies described in Islamic apocalyptic prophecies.

ISIS defeated

But over the next five years the jihadist group was slowly driven out of the territory it controlled by an array of forces.

The ensuing war left many thousands of people dead across the two countries, displaced millions more, and devastated entire areas.

In Iraq, federal security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were supported by both the US-led coalition and a paramilitary force dominated by Iran-backed militias, the Popular Mobilisation (al-Hashd al-Shaabi).

In Syria, the US-led coalition backed an alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab militias, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and some Syrian Arab rebel factions in the southern desert. Troops loyal to President Assad meanwhile also battled ISIS with the help of Russian air strikes and Iran-backed militiamen.

Throughout the fighting the question of whether Baghdadi was dead or alive remained a source of mystery and confusion.

In June 2017, as Iraqi security forces battled the last remaining ISIS militants in Mosul, Russian officials said there was a "high probability" that Baghdadi was killed in a Russian air strike on the outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital.

But that September ISIS released an audio message apparently from Baghdadi that included a call for the group's followers to "fan the flames of war on your enemies".

Such exhortations were not enough to stop SDF fighters capturing Raqqa the following month and driving its supporters into sparsely populated desert areas.

It was not until August 2018 that Baghdadi issued a new audio message. He urged followers in Syria to "persevere" in the face of its defeats on the battlefield.

The following month, the SDF launched the final stage of its campaign to clear ISIS from eastern Syria, targeting a strip of land running along the River Euphrates around the town of Hajin where tens of thousands of IS militants and their families had gathered after fleeing Mosul and Raqqa.

There was no indication that Baghdadi was among them, but unconfirmed reports emerged later saying that he had been forced to flee to the Iraq's western desert after a faction within ISIS tried to oust him.

In March 2019, the last piece of territory held by ISIS in Syria, near the village of Baghuz, was captured by the SDF, bringing a formal end to Baghdadi's "caliphate".

US President Donald Trump praised the "liberation" of Syria, but added: "We will remain vigilant against [ISIS]."

'Battle of attrition'

ISIS was thought to still have thousands of armed supporters in the region, many of them operating in sleeper cells. In Iraq, they were already carrying out attacks in an attempt to undermine the government's authority, create an atmosphere of lawlessness, and sabotage reconciliation and reconstruction efforts.

In April 2019, Baghdadi appeared in a video for the first time in almost five years. But rather than speaking from a mosque pulpit in Mosul, this time he was sitting cross-legged on the floor of a room with a rifle by his side.

He acknowledged his group's losses and said ISIS was now waging a "battle of attrition", urging supporters to launch attacks to drain its enemies' human, military, economic, and logistical resources.

"They need to know that jihad is continuing until the Day of Resurrection, and that God Almighty ordered us to wage jihad and did not order us to achieve victory."

It was not clear when or where the video was recorded, but Baghdadi seemed to be in good health. He was seen sitting with at least three other men whose faces were masked or blurred, and going through files on IS branches elsewhere in the world.

Analysts saw it as an attempt by Baghdadi to assert that he was still in charge.

No more was heard from him until September, when ISIS released a purported audio message in which he said "daily operations" were under way on "different fronts".

He also called on supporters to free the thousands of suspected ISIS militants and tens of thousands of women and children linked to ISIS who were detained at SDF-run prisons and camps in Syria following the fall of Baghuz.

The following month, a Turkish military offensive against the SDF in north-eastern Syria and President Trump's decision to pull US troops out of the region in response sparked alarm that ISIS might be able to exploit the security vacuum.

More than 100 prisoners escaped during the offensive and ISIS sleeper cells carried out several attacks, but Mr Trump rejected criticism of the US withdrawal. "Turkey, Syria, and others in the region must work to ensure that [ISIS] does not regain any territory," he insisted. "It's their neighbourhood; they have to maintain it."

Early on 23 October, US special operations forces carried out a raid outside the village of Barisha, in the north-western Syrian province of Idlib - the last stronghold of the opposition to President Assad. The target of the raid was Baghdadi, despite the area being hundreds of kilometres from the place where he was believed to be hiding.

President Trump later told reporters that Baghdadi had retreated into a tunnel with three children during the raid and then detonated an explosive vest when US military dogs were sent in, killing all four of them. Baghdadi's body was mutilated by the blast, but test results gave certain and positive identification, he said.

"A brutal killer, one who has caused so much hardship and death, was violently eliminated - he will never again harm another innocent man, woman or child," Mr Trump declared. "He died like a dog. He died like a coward. The world is now a much safer place."

There was no immediate confirmation of Baghdadi's death from ISIS.

Re: ISIS growing strong again in Iraq and Syria

PostPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2019 8:27 pm
Author: Anthea
ISIS Grew Out of US Invasion of Iraq

What Will Happen Next?

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

We turn now to the reported death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. On Sunday, President Trump announced al-Baghdadi had blown himself up along with three of his children after U.S. special operations forces raided a compound in northwestern Syria where he had been hiding. Baghdadi had led the so-called Islamic State since 2010. In 2014, he proclaimed the creation of the Islamic caliphate during a speech in Mosul.

At its peak, ISIS controlled a large swath of land across Syria and Iraq and maintained a force of tens of thousands of fighters who carried out mass killings, rape, beheadings and torture. The group also claimed responsibility for deadly attacks across five continents. The vast majority of civilians killed by ISIS were Muslims, mostly in Iraq and Syria. Some analysts say al-Baghdadi was radicalized after he was jailed by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2004. He was held for 11 months including reportedly at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

On Sunday morning, President Trump announced al-Baghdadi’s death in a televised address.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No personnel were lost in the operation, while a large number of Baghdadi’s fighters and companions were killed with him. He died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way. The compound had been cleared by this time with people either surrendering or being shot and killed.

Eleven young children were moved out of the house and are uninjured. The only ones remaining were Baghdadi in the tunnel and he had dragged three of his young children with him. They were led to certain death. He reached the end of the tunnel as our dogs chased him down. He ignited his vest, killing himself and the three children.

His body was mutilated by the blast. The tunnel had caved in on it, in addition. But test results gave certain, immediate and totally positive identification; it was him. The thug who tried so hard to intimidate others spent his last moments in utter fear, in total panic and dread, terrified of the American forces bearing down on him.

AMY GOODMAN: The raid began early Sunday when eight U.S. military helicopters flew from a base near Erbil, Iraq, to northwestern Syria over airspace controlled by Syria and Russia. The New York Times reports Syrian and Iraqi Kurds had provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country. The raid comes just weeks after President Trump abandoned his support for the Kurds in northern Syria, green-lighting Turkey’s recent invasion.

The U.S. named the operation targeting al-Baghdadi after Kayla Mueller, the American aid worker who was taken hostage by ISIS after she crossed the Turkish border into Syria to visit a hospital in 2013. She died in 2015 but her body was never found. She was raped by al-Baghdadi himself.

We are joined now by three guests. In London, Emma Beals is with us, award-winning investigative journalist, researcher who has covered the Syrian conflict since 2012, editor of “Syria in Context.” In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan. His blog “Informed Comment” is online at He’s the author of many books, including Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires and Engaging the Muslim World. And in Boston, Rami Khouri, senior public policy fellow and journalist in residence at the American University of Beirut. He’s a non-resident senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative and a columnist for The New Arab. Juan Cole, let’s begin with you. Your response to the death of al-Baghdadi?

JUAN COLE: Well, I think it should be remembered that the organization he led, ISIL, developed originally as al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia and arose in reaction to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. And so the same kinetic U.S. military that in some ways inadvertently created ISIL has now ended one of its leaders. It certainly has not destroyed the organization or the impulse that lies behind it. And I think if anybody thinks that kinetic military operations in this part of the world are going to solve all the problems, they are sadly mistaken.

AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of al-Baghdadi? While President Trump talked about the killing of the U.S. aid workers and journalists, the rape of Kayla Mueller, who also died in a bombing in Syria where she had been held captive, the fact is that — and probably these journalists and aid workers would have been the first to point this out — ISIS had killed thousands of Muslims.

JUAN COLE: Yes. Well, ISIL developed a strategy — it’s a terrorist strategy–as a small group that wanted to emerge as a state, of what it called acting like beasts. And it was quite deliberate to terrorize people all around it into submission to convince the enemy that they were invulnerable because they would act in such a beastly and violent and berserk way. In many ways, it worked.

They intimidated very large numbers of people — at their height, millions — into submission. Iraqi soldiers who fought them talked about the horror of going into alleyways and facing men who would jump down from roofs onto them with suicide bomb belts and detonate them. It wasn’t hand-to-hand combat; it was hand-to-bomb combat.

And so this policy of beastliness was also a media strategy to attract followers. One of the advantages that they sought was to get highly trained former soldiers from Europe who might join them. And their policies were designed to attract people with violent tendencies who had that training.

This strategy, however, has severe drawbacks in that over time, especially if you were trying to run a state, it would make you extremely unpopular, not only with your own population, but with all of the neighbors. And it is an essential contradiction in ISIL strategy that they tried to continue to operate as a terrorist organization once they had a known address. The only way terrorism can be at all successful is if they can’t find you. But if you have a capital, then you are doomed.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, can you tell us, Juan Cole, about the history of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? In a nutshell, how he rose to power, what his background was, his captivity in — being in U.S. captivity back during the beginning of the Iraq war, the U.S. invasion of Iraq?

JUAN COLE: Sure. Well, al-Baghdadi was not, as he is being advertised, an Islamic scholar. He barely passed high school. He was shunted off to what was called the Islamic University of Baghdad, which was a low-level institution in Ba’athist Iraq. He seems to have preached some sermons at a local mosque as a kind of volunteer. And then he got arrested in 2004 along with some associates.

The U.S. military in Iraq would arrest large numbers of people if they were simply in the vicinity of a bombing or an act of resistance against the U.S. occupation. At any one time, they had 25,000 Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, in captivity. These prisons served as an opportunity, however, for some Iraqi oppositionists to network with others, and al-Baghdadi seems to have met some of the people who formed ISIL with him there in U.S. captivity.

An organization arose to oppose the U.S. occupation called al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Its leader was killed — Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — in 2006. Baghdadi joined that organization. In 2010, he emerged as the leader of it. He did innovate in the sense that he thought al-Qaeda was wrong to just engage in terrorism in hopes of weakening the state for an eventual revolution. He thought there was an opportunity, because the U.S. role in Iraq was so weak and it had destroyed the state, to actually take and hold territory under the Americans’ nose.

And that’s what he started to do, and that was all along what distinguished his tactics, is that he thought there was an opportunity here to create state structures. And in 2014, when the organization took 40% of Iraq and made Mosul its Iraqi center of operations, he declared himself a caliph, a kind of Muslim pope, much to the derision of most of the Muslim world, but it did attract, again, some violent activists.

: Was he held by U.S. forces? Was he imprisoned by the U.S. either at Abu Ghraib or other places?

JUAN COLE: Well, he was in prison, as far as we know, at the U.S. hands in 2004 for many months. And that certainly was one of the origins of his radicalization. Although, the U.S. occupation of Iraq was radicalizing enough. People forget now — four million Iraqis out of 26 million at the time were displaced from their homes and made homeless, not directly necessarily by the U.S. occupation, but as a result of it. Hundreds of thousands died. Sunni Arabs were suddenly viewed with suspicion by the new Shiite-led government.

Many had worked for the Ba’ath government of Saddam Hussein, were fired from their jobs. A hundred thousands were fired from state jobs. Massive unemployment, as much as 75% unemployment, developed in Sunni Arab areas.

And so this was an apocalyptic event for the Sunni Arabs of Iraq, and over time, it radicalized millions of them. And because I think the U.S. destroyed the secular socialist alternative in Iraq quite deliberately, one of the few avenues for their activism that was left was a hyper Sunni fundamentalism, which was extremely rabid in its hatred of foreigners and Shiites. But this is a night-and-day transformation of Sunni Arab Iraq, which had, as I said, largely been secular-minded and even refused Islam as the state religion.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break then come back to this discussion. We are speaking to Professor Juan Cole at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. We’ll bring in Rami Khouri, who’s at Harvard Kennedy School, and Emma Beals, award-winning investigative journalist who is currently in London. Stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, “”:, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. As we discuss the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, we go to President Trump making the announcement on Sunday.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, we know the successors, and we’ve already got them in our sights, and we’ll tell you that right now. But we know the successors. Hamza Bin Laden was a big thing, but this is the biggest there is. This is the worst ever. Osama bin Laden was very big, but Osama bin Laden became big with the World Trade Center. This is a man who built a whole — as he would like to call it — a country, a caliphate — and was trying to do it again.

AMY GOODMAN: So that’s President Trump making the announcement about the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Sunday morning. Apparently, he briefed Russia before he briefed the U.S. congressional leaders, particularly the House speaker Nancy Pelosi. Our guests are Juan Cole of University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Emma Beals, award-winning journalist who has covered Syria for years; and Rami Khouri of the Harvard Kennedy School. Rami, if you could respond to the news of the death of al-Baghdadi and the significance of this, what this means, and what exactly President Trump said yesterday.

RAMI KHOURI: The important thing to recognize is the longer trajectory of these kinds of radical terrorist and human movements across the Arab world, but also in other parts of the world — in Asia and other places in Africa. But the core of these movements has been in the Arab region. And it tells us that there really is a two-headed problem here. One is the nature of these small groups like al-Qaeda, like ISIS and a few others, that create formal groups and they carry out terrorist acts. And ISIS was so far as to create a so-called state that didn’t last very long.

But the other part of this, which is far more important and which the United States and Arab countries and European countries and Russia and virtually everybody in the world seems unwilling or unable to acknowledge, is that these groups are symptomatic of a much deeper structural set of stresses, inequities, unmet needs and distortions in the fabric of much of the Arab world — not all of it, but much of it — that creates hundreds of millions, literally several hundred million Arab men and women and families that are desperate to live a normal life.

And a small number of them break off and go and join these groups — a very small number — but the biggest number of Arabs who are in this situation are out in the streets. You see them today. Turn on your TV or check your news feeds. Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco, Sudan, Algeria — all across the Arab world, you’ve got literally millions of people demonstrating.

And this is the deeper problem. So al-Qaeda and ISIS are symptomatic of deeper problems, and if those deeper problems are not addressed by the Arab countries themselves, the military-led leaderships predominantly, or by the foreign powers that have supported these autocratic Arab leaderships for probably four or five decades now — if those issues are not addressed, we will just keep getting these kinds of movements emerging over and over.

And remember, it started in the 1930s and 1940s with the predominantly nonviolent Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and parts of [inaudible]. And a few of them became violent later on. They assassinated Sadat. They did other things. But a nonviolent movement started.

And then you had Hamas and Hezbollah that emerged as religious-led political resistance movements, mostly responding to the Israeli occupation of Arab lands. They became militarily very successful and did carry out some terrorism acts here and there, but for the most part, they were resistance movements. And after that, you got al-Qaeda and then you got ISIS and you got dozens and dozens of these movements in Syria.

So you can see the historical progression, and this is really the big issue. So killing Baghdadi is an important short-term setback to a group that anticipated this would happen. It clearly has restructured its organizational system and its operational methods so that it would not be destroyed when the leader was killed. And they expected this.

And of course, you’ll still get ISIS trying to carry out some terror and military violent attacks here and there, but the bigger problem is that the overwhelming majority of people who are suffering in the Arab world are suffering because of the authoritarian regimes they live under, the social and economic and political inequities, the continuing ripple effects of 100 years of the Arab-Israeli conflict with continued Israeli colonization of Arab lands and the continued support of big powers around the world to this status quo, most recently exhibited in U.S. and British and French active involvement in the war in Yemen, the war in Libya, supporting Sisi in Egypt and any other situation you want to look at in the Middle East.

So that is the bigger picture. And the United States is not understanding it, nor are most of the Arab leaderships or foreign leaderships. And this is a problem, because it means we are going to continue on this trajectory with more radicalization, more violence and more suffering. And most of the suffering is done by Arabs and Muslims.

AMY GOODMAN: Emma Beals, on Sunday you tweeted, quote, “Baghdadi’s death will be fodder for US news cycle in coming days, it’s important to remember that the majority of ISIS victims are in Syria and Iraq. This is important for them. Also, Idlib is now probably in a more perilous situation than before, in particular, the civilians,” end quote. Baghdadi had reportedly been hiding out in Idlib, Syria’s last major opposition-held enclave. Talk about what you fear will happen there now.

EMMA BEALS: So the large fear for Idlib, which is the last of the so-called deescalation areas, which are sort of part of the Astana agreement between Iran, Russia and Turkey where they would sort of reduce hostilities in those areas. But what we’ve seen is the other three deescalation areas have been subject to large military campaigns and return to government of Syria control. And that was probably going to happen in Idlib in some kind of a way. And you’ve seen a government in Russia campaign against Idlib over the last few months, and there has been a ceasefire just recently.

Now, the biggest argument that they have for conducting this operation in Idlib is the presence of HTS, which is a former al-Qaeda affiliate, and is designated under the Security Council resolutions about the area as being regarded as terrorists by everybody, so from the U.S. through to the government of Syria and everybody in between.

And the problem there is basically that because of the presence of HTS in this area, three million civilians who live there, many of whom have been displaced from other areas of Syria because of the conflict and have been displaced up to ten times, are now very vulnerable to this large military campaign. At the moment, they have nowhere to go. The border to Turkey is closed. They are not able to flee if the campaign restarts.

And so the real fear is that because Baghdadi was found in Idlib, to be hiding out in the area — which comes as something of a surprise because the al-Qaeda affiliates and former al-Qaeda affiliates have been very hostile to ISIS historically — the fear is that Idlib becomes viewed solely through a counter-terror lens, which there has been a tendency to do of late anyway.

But if it is seen solely through a counter-terror lens, you have three million civilians who are very desperate, who have been displaced multiple times throughout an extended conflict, who are in a desperate humanitarian situation and who may now find themselves even more at risk of being attacked because of this sort of terror lens that people are looking at Idlib through.

Of course, it’s very important to deal with those groups, be they ISIS or al-Qaeda affiliate or former al-Qaeda affiliates. However, it is important to also view it as a civilian protection issue, when you’re talking about those large numbers of civilians living there who do have nowhere else to go. And that is the real fear that I sort of immediately had, for the people of Idlib, when I heard the news.

AMY GOODMAN: Emma, you worked hard to try to have some of these journalists released. You knew them. Of course, Kayla Mueller, who was raped by al-Baghdadi himself, she would be the first to point out as a humanitarian aid worker, as a peace activist, that so many more Muslims had been killed under ISIS. The Yazidi women raped by ISIS. If you could talk about your efforts, and who you knew who died?

EMMA BEALS: Well, we’re a close community, those of us that work in these kind of areas, so we knew of or knew everybody that was detained. Not just myself, but so many of my colleagues that were working in the area were personally affected by this. And we obviously, when our colleagues were taken, did everything that we could within the sort of limited capacities that we had as individuals, to try to help to have them released, and that was ultimately kind of unsuccessful.

But I think what’s important to remember, though, is that justice for those American hostages comes in several different ways. Obviously, Baghdadi’s death is hugely important as a sort of very big symbolic issue. He was the person in charge when they were held and murdered.

He also did just appalling things to all of the people living in the areas that he was in control of in both Syria and Iraq. But even if you’re just looking at the Western hostages themselves, there are two of the people from the group known as the Beatles who took part in the detention and killing of those hostages, who have been detained —

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean by the, quote, “Beatles.”

EMMA BEALS: So the group of ISIS fighters who were the ones who detained and then were part of killing the Western hostages, two of them have been — they were nicknamed the Beatles by the hostages themselves, and that’s kind of how they’ve become known in the press. So two of them — so one of them, Jihadi John, so-called Jihadi John, was killed in a drone strike in 2015, and two of them have been detained in northeastern Syria for over two years now. And there has been an absolute quagmire in terms of trying to get them to trial, in terms of trying to see real justice done by bringing them to the U.K. or to the U.S to stand trial with evidence for the things that they have done.

So in terms of invoking the names of those hostages in the speech that Trump gave, yes, there’s obviously a direct — particularly with Kayla, a direct link to Baghdadi and to the others, because he was in control at the time, but it’s important to remember that justice isn’t just about a military activity. It is also about making sure that the rule of law, bringing ISIS fighters to justice for those Western hostages, and also for the regional communities that were affected by them is hugely important as well.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to President Trump. A lot of clips were taken just from the very first part of the announcement he made on Sunday morning. But he then moved on, rambling wildly.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You know, these people are very smart. They are not into the use of cell phones anymore. They are not — they’re very technically brilliant. You know, they use the internet better than almost anybody in the world, perhaps other than Donald Trump. But they use the internet incredibly well. And what they have done with the internet through recruiting and everything — and that’s why he died like a dog. He died like a coward. He was whimpering, screaming and crying.

AMY GOODMAN: Juan Cole, President Trump’s comments, from the dogs to the internet?

JUAN COLE: Well, Trump is an extremely disturbing leader in the sense that he basically gave us a snuff film, a film about somebody’s violent death, as a sort of entertainment, I think. And one of the ironies is that ISIL pioneered on the internet what is called stochastic terrorism. Most terrorism is conducted by organized cells with a certain amount of command and control.

One of the things that ISIL did as part of its policy of beastliness was to call upon people to undertake violent actions as a destabilizing attempt. And I think it appealed to people on the internet who were already angry and unstable, often mentally ill, and they would go out and commit violence, and then would attribute it to ISIL even though ISIL knew nothing about it. It was just off of a Twitter or Facebook meme.

In many ways, although not with the same systematic effect, Trump also is responsible for a certain amount of stochastic terrorism. The El Paso shooter who drove ten hours to kill Latino Americans was, by his own admission, at least somewhat inspired by memes coming out of the Trump Administration. We saw this in other attempted attacks on mosques in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: And of course invoking Hispanic invaders was a year ago at the Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 Jewish worshipers were killed.

JUAN COLE: Yes, Trump has adopted and people around him have used this language of replacement, which is a far-right conspiracy theory that the American Jewish community wants to bring in immigrants to replace white people, and so made the American Jews a target. It’s of course a monstrous lie. But these kinds of internet memes, which ISIL in some was pioneered as sources of violence, have now been taken up by the American far right, which is in itself a kind of less organized but still very deadly form of ISIS-like activity. ... ppen-next/

Re: ISIS growing strong again in Iraq and Syria

PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 2:31 am
Author: Anthea
What to expect from ISIS
after Baghdadi's death

Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ultra-violent jihadist group Islamic State (ISIS) evolved from a gang of insurgents to the most formidable and feared militant group in the world, expanding across continents from Africa to Australasia. Now that its chief has been killed, ISIS will find a way to adapt

Rapid succession

What remains of the ISIS leadership will have long planned for this day.

The group will want to demonstrate its resilience and signal to its followers that it has not been knocked off balance by the loss of such a well-known figure.

A Shura committee of senior figures - all male - will have already considered a number of candidates.

Prerequisites for the role will be an unquestionable loyalty to ISIS, a proven ability to plan strategically and, preferably, impeccable religious credentials, some battlefield experience and perhaps also a reputation for meting out harsh punishments.

ISIS has always been a bizarre fusion of ultra-conservative jihadists with former members of the late Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's military and intelligence apparatus, known as Baathists.

The Baathists provided the weapons, the explosives, the intelligence and the planning - nobody knew Iraq better than them - while the jihadists brought the fanaticism and the volunteer suicide bombers.

Baghdadi's successor will likely be someone with well-established links with both sides of this equation.

Baghdadi's loss will be keenly felt by ISIS for some time.

When jihadists around the world pledged allegiance to ISIS they invariably pledged allegiance to him personally, referring to him as "Caliph Ibrahim".

While he only appeared twice in videos, he was able to cloak himself with a sheen of religious authority.

He claimed direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad's Quraishi tribe and delivered his announcement of a "caliphate" from inside Mosul's Great Mosque, which he later ordered to be blown up.

The fact that Baghdadi was a serial rapist, forcing himself on, among others, the captured American aid worker Kayla Mueller, and presiding over the mass enslavement of Yazidi women and underage girls, does not seem to have troubled his followers at all.

Revenge attacks - Expect them

The most likely targets will be in Iraq and Syria, where access to weapons, explosives and suicidal volunteers is easiest to come by.

But ever since ISIS lost its last piece of territory at Baghuz in Syria, it has been vowing to continue its attacks in what it calls "a war of attrition".

Europe, the US, North African, Gulf Arab and Asian countries are all in the sights of ISIS.

Even so-called "lone wolf" attacks, carried out by solitary individuals far from the Middle East and radicalised over the internet, are likely to be claimed by ISIS as payback for the death of Baghdadi.

France, which has long been close to the top of the ISIS target list in Europe, has warned its citizens to be on their guard.

Much as ISIS would like to stage a spectacular, mass-casualty attack, its leadership knows that the more elaborate the plan, the greater the chance of it being discovered by security services.

So in the immediate future it is most likely to opt for low-tech, simple attacks with relatively little preparation.

Survive and rebuild

ISIS has a disturbing track record of resilience.

Under Baghdadi's guidance, and helped by the connections he made with other jihadists while incarcerated in the US-run detention centre at Camp Bucca, ISIS grew out of the largely beaten remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

ISIS split away from al-Qaeda in 2016.

They disagreed on several points, notably the use by ISIS of extreme, sadistic violence - which al-Qaeda correctly argued was putting off the vast majority of Muslim opinion.

Al-Qaeda hoped to win over that opinion; ISIS didn't care. It was happy to recruit misfits, psychopaths and paedophiles, people attracted by its violence and its cruelty.

Re: ISIS growing strong again in Iraq and Syria

PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:53 am
Author: Anthea
Link to stunning first images from al-Baghdadi raid

Re: ISIS growing strong again in Iraq and Syria

PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 2:15 pm
Author: Anthea
Turkey’s Erdoğan protected ISIS leader Baghdadi

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan protected Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - and U.S. President Donald Trump should have known

In his national address announcing that U.S. Special Forces killed Baghdadi, Trump commended Turkey while turning a blind eye to Turkey’s collusion with ISIS.

While Trump thanked “the Syrian Kurds for certain support they were able to give us,” he downplayed the importance of intelligence provided by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). But the SDF’s information was critical to the mission.

There is a long list questions over Turkey’s relationship with ISIS

Turkey increased support for jihadists after Syrian President Bashar Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, in September 2013.

Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) is reported to have provided weapons, money, and logistical support to extremist groups that evolved into ISIS. Wounded ISIS warriors regularly showed up at Turkish hospitals in Gaziantep to receive medical care

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi founded ISIS in the spring of 2014. ISIS attacked Mosul and Sinjar in June, terrorising Yezidis and Kurds. Over five years, the so-called ISIS caliphate grew to the size of Great Britain, with eight million people under its control.

According to the SDF, “Turkey provides all kinds of support to the terrorist groups. These forces, trained and funded by Turkey are engaged in a planned ethnic cleansing against our people.” Turkish-backed jihadists commit crimes on a daily basis in Turkish occupied areas in Syria such as Afrin, Azzaz, al-Bab, Jarablus and Idlib.

In March 2019, the SDF drove ISIS out of its last redoubt in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz. From its interrogation of hardcore ISIS fighters, the SDF learned that Baghdadi had moved to Idlib in northwest Syria. Discovering Baghdadi in Idlib was a surprise to everyone who believed he was hiding in eastern Syria or western Iraq, near his ancestral village.

Baghdadi ended up at a compound in Barisha just 5 km from the Turkish border. The area around Barisha is controlled by Turkish-backed forces. Dozens of Turkish military outposts are located near the border and security is tight.

There was a network of tunnels beneath Baghdadi’s Barisha compounded. All the tunnels were sealed except for one. Since the tunnel network was destroyed by a U.S. air strike, we do not know if the tunnel was an escape route leading to a nearby Turkish military base, or to Turkey itself.

In contrast to mounting evidence that Turkey protected Baghdadi, the Kurds were indispensable to the Baghdadi operation. U.S. helicopters took off from Hareer Air Force Base outside Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Incirlik Air Force base is much closer, but the Pentagon evidently did not trust the Turkish government to make them a partner.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu exaggerated Turkey’s role. “Turkey and our U.S. counterparts shared information, exchanged opinions before the operation to kill Daesh leader started. That’s why Trump thanked Turkey in his speech,” the minister said, using an Arabic name for ISIS.

In fact, Turkey played no active role. According to a U.S. official, “Turkey did not provide any assistance in this operation. [Baghdadi] was located right next to its border … That shows you how little they do on countering ISIS.” An Iraqi official indicated that Baghdadi was killed “after his hiding place was discovered when he tried to get his family out of Idlib toward the Turkish border”.

The SDF provided critical information. Mazloum Kobani, the SDF commander, heralded the “joint effort over more than fives months between military intelligence of the SDF and U.S. Forces.”

He explained how the SDF “documented over the past months the presence of high ranking ISIS leaders, including Baghdadi, in areas under control of the Turkish state.” According to Kobani, “the operation was delayed for more than a month due to Turkish aggression in our region.”

The U.S. after-action report will reveal how Turkey, a NATO ally, colluded with Baghdadi over many years and protected him from capture. Turkey’s present leadership cannot be trusted. The SDF is America’s real friend in Syria - not Turkey. ... r-baghdadi

    Turkey’s National Intelligence Agency (MIT) is reported to have provided weapons, money, and logistical support to extremist groups that evolved into ISIS. Wounded ISIS warriors regularly showed up at Turkish hospitals in Gaziantep to receive medical care
We have known these fact for several years - especially the part about ISIS fighters being treated in Turkish hospitals. Senior ISIS members also regularly took holidays in Turkish hotels

Never forget that when ISIS headed towards Kobani, Turkish tanks lined the border and made NO move to prevent ISIS invading Kobani

NOBODY prevented the ISIS invasion of Kobani

The Kurds rushed to the Turkish border with their most precious possessions, Turks made them leave most of their possessions behind as a present for ISIS

After seeing their families safe inside Turkish borders, the men of Kobani tried to return to fight for their homes - Turkey prevented them for crossing back into Western Kurdistan

Those Kurds were forced to remain inside Turkey and watch helplessly as their homes were being destroyed - grown men crying and screaming along with weeping women and children

Re: ISIS growing strong again in Iraq and Syria

PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 3:22 pm
Author: Anthea
Kurdish General Spills All

Kurdish General Spills Details About Spy Who Allegedly Sold Out al-Baghdadi to US

The US president announced the elimination of the Daesh* leader on 27 October, saying that his identity had been confirmed via a DNA test. However, his body was never shown to any authorities and thus no other country could confirm his death. According to reports from Reuters, al-Baghdadi's top aide gave key information that helped track him down.

An unnamed personal "security official" of Daesh* leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi passed information about the terrorist number one's movements and safe houses to Kurdish militia, NBC News reported, citing Syrian Democratic Forces General Mazloum Abdi. According to Abdi, the spy in al-Baghdadi's inner circle was responsible for "securing the places" where the Daesh* leader was hiding.

    " the compound, fighters from two locations in the vicinity of the compound began firing on U.S. aircraft participating in the assault."
    - Gen Frank McKenzie CDR USCENTCOM
    — U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) October 30, 2019
    "Al-Baghdadi took his security precautions to the highest level. He never used high-tech communications at all. Any place he was in, was in a communications blackout, with exception of those who were directly responsible for his security", the general said.
Abdi revealed that the "official" who betrayed al-Baghdadi did so out of a desire for revenge against both Daesh* and its leader after allegedly losing hope in the group’s "future". The Kurdish general further said that the spy was present at the terrorist's hideout when it was assaulted by US forces, and was subsequently evacuated from it.

Tough Road to the Operation

Mazloum Abdi stated that the spy was regularly providing the Kurdish militia with information that was later transmitted to the US. The person didn't know the exact location of the safe house, but managed to make observations and notice landmarks that allegedly helped US intelligence pinpoint his location to a facility in Syria’s Idlib province.

    "The idea that al-Baghdadi was in Idlib was completely unexpected. It was a surprise to everyone", Abdi said, referring to the presence of terrorist groups in the province that had been rivals of Daesh* in the past.
US intelligence services were not especially keen on working based on the spy's information, fearing that it could be a trap, the Kurdish general said. But the attitude changed after the spy reportedly managed to smuggle al-Baghdadi's blood samples and underwear for a DNA test that confirmed his identity. Abdi didn't clarify how their asset in Daesh* managed to pull this feat off.

The operation to take out al-Baghdadi was also on the verge of failure, as it was delayed by US President Donald Trump's decision to pull US forces out from northern Syria. At the same time, the Daesh* leader was preparing to change his hideout to a new, unknown one, according to Abdi. He estimated that al-Baghdadi would move to a new location within 48 hours if the operation was not carried out.

Purported Death of the Daesh* Leader

US President Donald Trump announced the death of al-Baghdadi on 27 October, claiming that the terrorist number one died while trying to escape, "whimpering and crying and screaming all the way". He added that the Daesh* leader's body was mutilated due to him blowing himself up with a suicide vest and that he was identified by his DNA. The Pentagon later also published a short video showing US forces approaching the terrorist's hideout before he was taken down.

However, no other country, apart from the US, has been able confirm the operation and death of al-Baghdadi, whose remains were buried at sea within 24 hours after his demise.

Previous reports by Reuters suggested that the location of al-Baghdadi's hideout was pinpointed using information obtained from his top aide, Ismael al-Ethawi, who was arrested by Turkish forces and handed over to Iraqi authorities.

*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia ... adi-to-us/