Posted: 31 Jan 2015 10:24 AM PST
US Central Command, or CENTCOM, reported yesterday that it killed Abu Malik, an Islamic State "chemical weapons engineer," in an airstrike near Mosul, Iraq. Abu Malik was associated with al Qaeda in Iraq and then the Islamic State for a decade before he was killed.
"Malik was an ISIL (Islamic State) chemical weapons engineer who worked at Saddam Hussein's Muthana chemical weapon production facility before affiliating with al Qaeda in Iraq in 2005," according to the CENTCOM press release. "He later joined ISIL and his past training and experience provided the terrorist group with expertise to pursue a chemical weapons capability."
"His death is expected to temporarily degrade and disrupt the terrorist network and diminish ISIL's ability to potentially produce and use chemical weapons against innocent people," CENTCOM concluded.
It is unclear if Abu Malik was associated with the al Qaeda in Iraq cell that the Iraqi Ministry of Defense broken up in 2013 (al Qaeda in Iraq was eventually rebranded as the Islamic State). That cell was seeking to manufacture chemical weapons, including sarin nerve gas, and plotting to conduct attacks within Iraq, Europe, and North America, according to the Iraqi government.
Posted: 31 Jan 2015 08:20 AM PST
The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria, has fought against Harakat Hazm (the Hazm Movement) outside of Aleppo in recent days. Hazm is one of the few rebel groups to receive limited American aid in the Syrian war.
Leaders of the Hazm Movement have praised Al Nusrah in the past. And the two organizations have fought side-by-side at times, drawing into question Hazm's reliability as a Western partner. Hazm has also partnered with other al Qaeda-linked jihadist groups.
But Al Nusrah is repeating the tactics it has employed in the recent past by attempting to take ground from Hazm. Late last year, Al Nusrah turned on the Syrian Revolutionaries' Front (SRF), another Western-backed rebel group that has repeatedly fought alongside al Qaeda in Syria. Just as Al Nusrah took towns and villages from the SRF in Idlib, it is now seizing Hazm positions outside of Aleppo. And the fighting between Al Nusrah and the Hazm Movement is reportedly spreading elsewhere.
When Al Nusrah launched its offensive against the SRF in late October 2014, one of the organization's propaganda arms on Twitter released videos and statements accusing the SRF of committing various crimes against Syrian civilians. Al Nusrah also justified its attacks by claiming that its fighters had been unjustly imprisoned by the SRF.
Al Nusrah's propaganda, which is intended to portray its offensive as just, repeats these same themes with respect to Hazm.
Al Qaeda's Syrian branch has released a 3 minute, 27 second video accusing Hazm of shelling civilians and torturing prisoners. The video introduces several witnesses, who discuss their alleged mistreatment by Hazm. Images of the purported damage done by Hazm's shelling are also shown. While it may be true that Hazm abused the prisoners, Al Nusrah is not known for treating its captives gently.
Several screen shots from the Al Nusrah Front video are shown below.
In a separate statement released via Twitter on Jan. 30, the Al Nusrah Front says it has reclaimed the Sheikh Salman Camp from the Hazm Movement. Al Nusrah claims that Hazm seized the camp three months ago and has held several Al Nusrah fighters captive there. Al Nusrah argues that, along with other factions, it participated in "liberating" the camp two years ago. Al Nusrah alleges that the Hazm Movement shelled civilian areas in the surrounding villages as it battled for control of the camp.
The Hazm Movement has used its social media pages to respond. On Jan. 29, the group released a statement on its Facebook page saying that it would withdraw "from all the positions" its fighters were defending on the fronts surrounding Aleppo. Hazm appealed to other rebel groups to intervene, and enforce an agreement that prevents rebel infighting in and around Aleppo. Hazm also accused Al Nusrah of being "takfiri," and of following an "extremist ideology."
The Islamic Front, an alliance of several rebel groups, has attempted to act as an intermediary between Al Nusrah and the Hazm movement. A statement released on the Islamic Front's official Twitter feed on Jan. 29 is signed by two groups, Ahrar al Sham and Suqur al Sham.
The organizations say they are saddened by the news of the infighting between their Muslim "brothers," and recommend that the conflict be settled in an independent sharia court. The statement implicitly takes Al Nusrah's side in the fight, however. "We are prepared to reclaim the rights claimed by our brothers in Al Nusrah Front against Harakat Hazm," the Islamic Front statement reads. The representatives from Ahrar al Sham and Suqur al Sham say they "trust" the Hazm Movement will not refrain from "settling any wrongs done by them."
Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda-linked organization, is the most powerful organization in the Islamic Front, holding key leadership positions in the coalition.
In another statement, dated Jan. 30, the Hazm Movement says that it has "confidence" in the Islamic Front to end the dispute. But Hazm also says that the Islamic Front should deal first with the "attacker," meaning the Al Nusrah Front, and not the defender.
As the infighting has raged on, the Levantine Front, another rebel coalition that operates outside of Aleppo, has released its own statement saying the Hazm Movement has joined the alliance. Hazm's move is likely intended to provide it with cover in the face of the jihadists' advances.
The Al Nusrah Front's strategy for northern Syria was made clear late last year, when its forces moved against the SRF, consolidating its hold on positions throughout Idlib in the process.
The Hazm Movement now finds itself in the same crosshairs.
Al Nusrah's propaganda video seeks to undermine Hazm Movement
The Al Nusrah Front's propaganda video introduces several witnesses, who allege that the Hazm Movement shelled civilian areas during the infighting and also tortured its prisoners. The video is the same type of production Al Nusrah released last year when it was fighting the Syrian Revolutionaries' Front in Idlib. The claims made in the video should not be taken at face value, as they are an attempt to claim the moral high ground in the fight against the Hazm Movement.
Screen shots from the video can be seen below:
Posted: 31 Jan 2015 06:47 AM PST
The Islamic State has officially acknowledged that its forces have withdrawn from the Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria. The al Qaeda offshoot admitted its retreat in a short video that was released by 'Amaq News Agency,' an official propaganda outlet.
The video, which is comprised of statements from two unidentified jihadists who fought in Kobane, was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. Both fighters credited the air campaign by the US-led Coalition with forcing their retreat.
The first fighter said that "it was fated for us to retreat from Ayn al-Islam [Ayn al Arab, or Kobane] bit by bit, because of the bombardment and because some of the brothers were killed."
The second fighter said that "the reason behind our retreat is that we did not find points in which to remain garrisoned. We stayed in garrisoned positions inside more than 70% of Ayn al-Islam, but the aircraft did not leave any buildings and destroyed everything."
"They flattened the land with their rockets, so we were forced to retreat," he continued. Later, he stated that the aircraft "bombarded day and night."
The second jihadist warned that the Islamic State would "return" to Kobane, presumably once Coalition aircraft turn their attention elsewhere.
"This is the style of hit and run since the days of the Messenger ... We will return once again and we will disperse them [the Kurds]," the second fighter said.
The Islamic State's claim that much of Kobane was difficult for the group to occupy because it was leveled is somewhat plausible. According to Al Jazeera, Kurds returning to Kobani have found "at least half of the town destroyed." However much of the city has been destroyed during fighting between the Islamic State and the YPG and its allies.
The jihadist in the video rightly notes that a considerable number of airstrikes were launched against the Islamic State in and around Kobane. The US-led Coalition has executed 606 airstrikes on the jihadist group in the area between Sept. 27, 2014 and Jan. 20, 2015, according to data compiled by The Long War Journal and Military Edge. That represents more than 71 percent of the total number of Coalition airstrikes in Syria during that timeframe. [See LWJ report, Islamic State is forced from Kobane.]
Posted: 30 Jan 2015 06:00 PM PST
Wilayat Sinai, or the Sinai Province of the Islamic State, claimed responsibility for a series of attacks throughout the Sinai yesterday via posts on Twitter. In a statement released earlier today, the organization said the operations were revenge against the Egyptian government for imprisoning the "sisters" (Muslim women). Two pictures of the attacks, one of which can be seen above, were posted with the statement.
The same justification has been offered by Ajnad Misr ("Soldiers of Egypt") for its operations in Cairo and elsewhere. The jihadists claim that devout Muslim women are being oppressed by the government and, therefore, need to be avenged.
Wilayat Sinai said in its statement today that complex assaults were carried out against the Egyptian military and police in El Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah. The raid in El Arish appears to have been the most sophisticated, as it involved three explosives-laden vehicles.
Interestingly, the group says that it launched the assaults, utilizing almost one hundred fighters (a claim that cannot be independently verified), after nighttime curfews went into effect. It did so to supposedly minimize the loss of civilian life.
The Islamic State and its so-called "provinces" are not known for their concern for civilian casualties in the Muslim majority world. In contrast, Al Qaeda and its branches have attempted to steer their violence away from Muslim civilians. And, interestingly, Wilayat Sinai's claim in this regard is again similar to how Ajnad Misr says it carries out its operations inside Egypt.
Ajnad Misr, which was designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department in December, is an offshoot of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis ("ABM") and has not sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's organization.
ABM's Sinai faction, however, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State last November and was quickly rebranded as the group's Sinai "province."
The number of casualties caused by the attacks varies across press accounts.
According to an Egyptian health official who spoke with Agence France Presse (AFP), at least 40 people were killed and dozens more were injured. Other reports say the number of casualties was lower. Wilayat Sinai's statement implies that the number of people killed or wounded is much higher.
Regardless, the attacks are clearly the deadliest ones conducted by the group since it swore allegiance to the Islamic State.
The New York Times reports that the series of raids were carried out on the North Sinai security directorate headquarters, an army base, various security checkpoints, a hotel, the capital of the province, and a security camp.
Wilayat Sinai claimed several terrorist operations in late December, one on a natural gas pipeline that extends into Jordan and two others on Egyptian military vehicles.
The group has repeatedly targeted the Egyptian military in the Sinai, and killed dozens of soldiers in October, leading security forces to impose curfews in the North Sinai. Wilayat Sinai specifically mentions those curfews in today's statement.
According to CNN, hundreds of police and troops have been killed in the last year and a half, since the military's ouster of President Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013.
According to one report in the Financial Times, Wilayat Sinai's large-scale operations may have spurred smaller cells in other cities to also strike targets in Suez, Cairo, and Port Said.
Despite the military's crackdown since October, security forces are clearly unable to prevent these types of significant, multi-stage assaults from happening, highlighting flaws in Egypt's ability to combat the jihadists.
Following Thursday's raids, Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) released a statement on the army spokesman's Facebook page announcing it would ramp up operations to crackdown on militants in the Sinai. And President Abdul Fattah al Sisi cut his trip to an African Union summit in Ethiopia short due to the attacks.
In addition to the photo shown above, Wilayat Sinai released this photo from yesterday:
Saturday, January 31, 2015
Posted by solsticewitch13 at 6:38 PM
In this mailing:
by Salim Mansur • January 31, 2015 at 5:00 am
A country made for Muslims has turned into a nightmare for Muslims.
The wish of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, was that the country evolved into a modern democratic state where Muslims, as a majority population, could feel at ease.
But the modernizers who succeeded the colonial authorities in taking power aroused expectations that were simply beyond their abilities to deliver.
But religious authorities were agitating, warning the bewildered masses that these defeats were divine punishments for betraying the true message of Islam by not faithfully abiding by its requirements.
Qutb in his writings recast the division in the world from the classic Muslim one between the House of Islam and the House of War, to one between Islam and jahiliyya, a condition of paganism that preceded the coming of Islam to Arabia. Jahiliyya has now become all-pervasive in the modern world, supposedly sparing none, including Muslims, except for that small coterie of Muslims who took flight [hijra] from the corrupted world and prepared for jihad [armed struggle].
Together, Hasan al-Banna, Abul A'la Maududi and Sayed Qutb fashioned political Islam as a closed system, in opposition to all other competing ideologies.
The theology of takfir -- declaring other Muslims apostates or unbelievers; excommunication -- obsessed with "unbelief," has provided the politics of jihad [armed struggle] with the theological justification that arms any Muslim to freelance as a soldier of Allah.
The strategic requirement for advancing global jihad was to convince Muslims that they are liable to be found committing heresy if they support non-Muslim or infidel authorities, such as the United States and its allies, or if they wage war against Muslims, such as members of al-Qaeda.
The theology of takfir and jihad has now come full circle. Many Pakistanis, when they disagree, now find themselves trapped in denunciations that they are unbelievers.
It is from these madrasas that the jihadi fighters come forth as cannon fodder for an endless jihad that has become a growth industry in Pakistan. The entire political elite in Pakistan has profited, just as the Iranian elite continues profiting by doing the same.
For many, being "pure" required separating oneself from non-Muslims.
"The Taliban were not providing strategic depth to Pakistan, but Pakistan was providing strategic depth to the Taliban." — Ahmed Rashid, foremost scholar of the Taliban.
The recent massacre of school children by Taliban jihadists in a Peshawar army school just lowered even further the bar of atrocities carried out under the banner of Islam in Pakistan. As authorities floundered in the face of mounting violence, with serious implications for new wars in the region, the 2014 Global Terrorism Index ranked Pakistan third behind Iraq and Afghanistan among countries most impacted by terrorism. In addition, the "failed states index" elevated the status of Pakistan to being among the top dozen failed states of the world.
According to the intelligence report of the last conversation before the murders, monitored by Pakistan's security agency, one of the jihadists informed his handler, "We have killed all the children in the auditorium." He then asked, "What do we do now?" The handler answered, "Wait for the army people, kill them before blowing up yourself."
by Alan M. Dershowitz • January 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm
I just completed a three day visit to Prague and the former Terezin concentration camp. I was there to speak at a conference commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps. Many European speakers talked about the efforts they are making to confront the rising tide of anti-Semitism throughout Europe. But before one can decide how to confront a sickness like anti-Semitism, one must first describe and diagnose the pathology.
There are several distinct, but sometimes overlapping, types of anti-Semitism. The first is traditional, right wing, fascist Jew hatred that has historically included theological, racial, economic, social, personal and cultural aspects. We are seeing a resurgence of this today in Greece, Hungary and other European countries with rising right wing parties that are anti-Muslim as well as anti-Jewish.
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Posted by solsticewitch13 at 6:32 PM
Posted: 30 Jan 2015 02:10 PM PST
A Canadian professor of marketing has a blog on Psychology Today. His name is Dr. Gad Saad. In a recent blog post he asked the question, "How do we know if a religion is peaceful?" His article is well worth reading for a couple of reasons. First, it is published in a magazine that epitomizes political correctness and multiculturalism. And the analysis he lays out is brilliant, logical, unbiased, scientific, and published on a site that is about as far from being a counterjihad site as a site can be. Here is the article:
Suppose that I wanted to know whether Judaism permits the eating of pork. How would I go about answering this question? Would I look toward my Jewish friends to see whether they eat pork? Many of these individuals do not take kosher laws very seriously and as such I might come to the erroneous conclusion that since the majority of my Jewish friends eat pork, “moderate Judaism” has nothing to do with this food taboo. The correct approach in this case is to examine the relevant religious texts. The answer does not lie with individual Jews who may or may not adhere to the religiously sanctioned food taboo but in the religious edicts that define the practice of Judaism. Anecdotal evidence regarding your friend Solomon Goldstein’s love of pulled pork is utterly immaterial. Judaism forbids the consumption of pork. Jews who eat pork are doing so in violation of their religious teachings.
Reason and science allow us to properly think about the necessary data that are required in order to answer a given question. This is precisely why the scientific method is the most powerful framework for understanding the world. Given a research question or posited hypothesis, one must establish which data to collect and how to analyze it in order to weigh in on the matter.
This brings me to a topic that has become part of our collective conscience — namely, establishing whether a given religion is peaceful or not. Before we attempt to answer this question, let us examine another specific religion: Jainism. A central defining feature of this faith is the adherence of nonviolence toward living organisms. Practicing Jains who fully abide by this edict will walk with a broom and will sweep the floor prior to taking a step lest they might inadvertently kill a bug. If you know of a Jain who has been convicted of animal cruelty, this would not be indicative of the fact that Jainism permits such evil acts. Rather, the person in question is simply not following the teachings of his faith. Again, a scientific mind allows one to establish the relevant data needed to test a given hypothesis. Jainism preaches nonviolence even though a specific Jain might be violent.
If we wanted to establish the peaceful/violent nature of a religion, there are many sources of data that can be used to address this issue. Here are a few examples:
1. We could examine the historical records since the founding of a given faith to establish the number of individuals that have been slain by its adherents (in the name of their faith). This would allow us for example to establish whether Christianity has yielded greater bloodshed than Jainism.
2. We could delimit a given contemporary time period (e.g., the last 50 years) and tabulate the number of terrorist attacks that have been committed in the name of various faiths (see the University of Maryland's Global Terrorism Database). This would allow us to establish whether there have been a greater number of Christian-inspired anti-abortion attacks than, say, Jihadi-inspired attacks. The data are there. We simply need to collect them and conduct the proper analyses.
3. We could identify various contemporary terror lists (e.g., the FBI Most Wanted Terrorist List) or governmental lists of terrorist organizations (see the Canadian government's list), and gauge the extent to which various faiths are represented as central elements of the terrorists' raison d'être. This would allow us to conduct the appropriate statistical analyses to answer the question: Do Mormon-inspired terrorists outnumber Judaism-inspired terrorists? No need for sophistry. Let the data speak.
There are innumerable other sources of data that one might use to establish a religion’s peaceful/violent credentials, but let me identify the most obvious one. If you wish to know the extent to which a religion preaches peace/violence, conduct the appropriate analyses on its religious texts. Social scientists have the precise methodology to answer such a question and it is known as content analysis.
Read the rest of the article (you will be pleasantly surprised at where this analysis leads), and please share it with your friends and family: How Do We Know if a Religion is Peaceful?
Contact information for Dr. Gad Saad:
John Molson School of Business
1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West
Montreal, QC, CANADA
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2900
Fax: (514) 848-4554
Evolutionary Psychology in the Business Sciences (http://bit.ly/g2TfSj)
TED talks: http://bit.ly/egNuXr and http://bit.ly/12tewh7
Posted by solsticewitch13 at 6:26 PM