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Nigeria on Edge

Nigerian Girls Escape Boko Haram Islamist Captors

July 7th 2014

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Approximately 60 women and children abducted by Islamic extremists in Nigeria have escaped, sources told Agence France-Presse late Sunday.

A vigilante told the news service that he had heard from colleagues who said the women and children, who were captured by Boko Haram last month, “had it made it back home.”
A high-level security source confirmed the escape, AFP reported.

More than 60 women and girls, and 31 schoolboys were reported missing after a three-day siege in June in the northern part of the country. Boko Haram, whose name loosely translates to “Western education is sin,” also snatched more than 250 girls from a state-owned school in northern Nigeria in April. Read more ..


Japan on Edge

Japan's Military Is Not About to March Through Asia

July 6th 2014

Japnese destroyer at Guandong China

When Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced this week that he would be asking the parliament to pass laws revoking the country's ban on engaging in collective self-defense, it resulted in a predictable gnashing of teeth and wailing both in Japan and abroad. The move, which has been mooted since Abe was first in office, in 2006, simply allows Japanese military forces to come to the aid of allies or innocent parties under attack. Put in the context of Japan's gradual security evolution over the past several decades, it is neither a radical move nor one that threatens peace in Asia.

Abe has been attacked for his decision from two fronts. At home, large protests have demanded that Japan not become a militarist state that gets sucked into foreign wars. Meanwhile, protestors in South Korea and official voices in China darkly warn that Tokyo is changing the law so as to have a pretext for more aggressive action overseas. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Texas Governor Says Obama is 'Inept' or Doesn't Care for Border Issues

July 6th 2014

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Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) on Sunday said the Obama administration is either “inept” or doesn’t care about the influx of unaccompanied minors at the border with Mexico.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Perry pointed to a letter he sent in May, 2012, that raised concerns about the flow unaccompanied minors. Perry said there was no response from the administration.
“They either are inept or don’t care,” Perry said. “I have to believe that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept or you have some ulterior motive.”

“This is a failure of diplomacy, this is a failure of leadership,” he added.

Perry said he does not believe that President Obama “cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” adding that “we are paying a huge price.” Perry said Obama’s comments urging Central American parents not to send their children to the U.S. are coming “about five years too late.” Read more ..


The Caliphate

ISIS Poses Threat Beyond Iraq

July 6th 2014

Muslims destroy antiquities 2014

Any traveler to the Middle East today can feel the tidal wave sweeping the area. The Arab Awakening is now a distant memory, and the hopes for democracy have been replaced by the black flags of al-Qaeda. In their pickup trucks, they sweep into broader areas of northern and western Iraq, remove the border posts separating Iraq and Syria, threaten the transit areas that ship Iraqi oil to Jordan, and potentially endanger the Hashemite Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

Now they declare themselves not the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but just the Islamic State, and proclaim their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, "caliph" over all Muslims. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, 'Caliph' of Islamic State, Finally Appears in Video

July 5th 2014

Abu Bakir

A video posted online on Saturday purports to show the leader of the Islamic State extremist group that has overrun much of Syria and Iraq delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq, in what would be a rare — if not the first — public appearance by the shadowy militant.

The video was released on at least two websites known to be used by the group, but it was not possible to independently verify whether the person shown was indeed the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It bore the logo of al-Furqan, the group's media arm. Through brute force and guile, the Islamic State group has seized control of a vast swath of land straddling Syria and Iraq, and has declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in those territories. It proclaimed al-Baghdadi the leader of its state and demanded that all Muslims pledge allegiance to him.

"The mujahedeen have been rewarded victory by God after years of jihad, and they were able to achieve their aim and hurried to announce the caliphate and choose the Imam," he says in the video, referring to the leader. Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

Sale of 4,000 U.S. Missiles to Iraq Is Readied

July 3rd 2014

Darkly ominous missiles

The State Department has told lawmakers informally that the Obama administration wants to sell Iraq more than 4,000 additional Hellfire missiles for the government’s fight against Islamic insurgents, according to people familiar with the plan.

Sale of the laser-guided missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) would be in addition to 500 previously purchased, of which about 400 have been delivered.

The U.S. has pledged military aid to Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State, an extremist Sunni group that’s seized a swath of territory north and west of Baghdad. Iraq’s ambassador to the U.S., Lukman Faily, said yesterday in Washington that weapons have been too slow in coming and “further delay only benefits the terrorists.” Read more ..


South Sudan on Edge

MSF Reveals Details of Hospital Attacks in South Sudan

July 1st 2014

South Sudan soldier

The international medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders says at least 58 people have been killed on hospital grounds in South Sudan since a conflict broke out late last year.  The aid agency, better known by its French initials MSF, released a report Tuesday documenting repeated attacks on its facilities across the country.

MSF has released details of attacks on hospitals and health care workers since December, when a political dispute in South Sudan first spiraled into inter-ethnic violence. According to the report, MSF facilities have been ransacked, patients and health care staff killed, and vehicles, including ambulances, have been destroyed or stolen.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, MSF Program Manager for South Sudan William Robertson said the violence represented an “inversion” of the role of health care facilities as places of safety. "Indeed the violence carried out against the wounded and sick and those seeking shelter are not only violations of international law, but they are an affront to human dignity. The damage has far-reaching consequences beyond the act of violence itself as hundreds of thousands of people become cut off from health care at a time when they need it the most," he said. Read more ..


Defense on Edge

Why America's Military Dominance is Fading

June 30th 2014

U.S. Naval Carrier

It is often said Congress hates to cut or cancel weapons systems, usually for reasons relating to jobs and elections back home. But the record shows that Congress is much more likely to curtail new equipment purchases for the military rather than get rid of or retire the old stuff.

This tendency is increasingly problematic for the U.S. military. In many capability sets and domains, the traditional margins of U.S. military technological supremacy are declining across the services. Too often, policy makers think of this as an emerging challenge that can be dealt with in the coming years. But, as has been documented previously and stated by many senior Pentagon officials over the past year, America’s declining military superiority is now a “here-now” problem.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, recently said, “I’m very concerned about eroding technological superiority and where we’re headed. […] We’ve had 20 years since the end of the Cold War [and] sort of a presumption in the United States that we are technologically superior militarily. I don’t think that that’s a safe assumption. In fact, I think that we’ve gotten complacent about that and we’ve been distracted for the last ten years fighting counterinsurgencies.” Read more ..


Financing the Flames

US Funding Palestinian Terrorists

June 27th 2014

Financing the Flames

Obama administration officials have praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as someone with whom Israel can do business.

See the Video Report

Yet he recently chose to do business with those committed to Israel's destruction, Abbas struck a deal with Hamas making the U.S.-designated terror group part of a united Palestinian government.

Buy Financing the Flames
Learn More About Financing the Flames

Although that unity deal may soon be dead following Hamas's alleged kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, Abbas's initial embrace of the terror outfit raised serious questions about his commitment to peace.

Financing the Flames

"Peace doesn't have a chance because peace doesn't pay," said award-winning investigative journalist Edwin Black. "Because anytime that they want some income, all they've got to do is commit an act of terrorism."

In his latest book, Financing the Flames, the New York Times bestselling author details how the Palestinian Authority rewards terrorists who have killed Israelis.

"As soon as a terrorist commits an act of terrorism against an innocent civilian in Israel -- whether that's cutting the throat of a child or stabbing a man standing at a bus or blowing up a building," Black said. "As soon as that man does that, he goes on a special salary from the Palestinian Authority, under Palestinian law -- a law known as the Law of the Prisoner."

The more Israelis killed, the bigger the financial reward.

"He gets a graduated salary depending on how heinous the crime is," Black continued. "If he kills five people and gets five years, he gets one salary. If he kills double that number and gets double the sentence, he gets double the salary. And so this actually incentivizes the misery, mayhem, and carnage that the terrorists commit." Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

Kerry Goes Hat in Hand to Saudi Arabia

June 27th 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry meets today with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to discuss how to confront Sunni extremists that have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria. Kerry met in Paris with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, on June 26 in an effort to rally regional unity against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Kerry has sought to secure the cooperation of Gulf states to bolster the Iraqi government, rather than fund its opponents, who consist of disaffected Sunni Muslims. In Paris, Kerry said on June 26 “The move of [ISIS] concerns every single country here.” Read more ..


Defense on Edge

A-10 vs. Fighters and Bombers

June 26th 2014

B-2-Refueling

It's a time-honored tradition inside the Beltway to "kick the can" on really hard decisions while making sure immediate "solutions" to defer pain only cost more and create bigger problems later. Congress is set to do it again.

But the jig is up for these cut-off-the-nose-to-spite-the-face answers. Thanks to the defense drawdown underway, the military can no longer avoid political pain for the politicians in charge.

One high profile example of this is the Pentagon proposal to retire the fleet of A-10 Warthog aircraft. Members of Congress are set to pat themselves on the proverbial back for rejecting the president's proposal once the defense bills are finalized. But the cost of saving the A-10 fleet will be much larger numbers of fighters and bombers that will be on the chopping block instead. If the outcry was loud from the A-10 proposal, just wait until next year's budget lands with a thud on Capitol Hill. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Background on the 'Possible Military Dimensions' of Iran's Nuclear Program

June 25th 2014

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

As senior officials from Iran and the P5+1 -- China, France, Russia, Britain, and the United States, plus Germany -- prepare for another round of nuclear talks in Vienna on June 16-20, one major issue that cannot be left unresolved regards the suspected military aspects of Iran's nuclear program. The so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) are being investigated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as part of a Framework for Cooperation with Iran, but the issue is unlikely to be resolved before the July 20 target deadline set by the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) for negotiation of a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1.

Although the negotiations are aimed primarily at reaching a comprehensive agreement that limits the scope and level of Iran's uranium enrichment and plutonium production capabilities, the resolution of PMD issues has been left to the IAEA, which is working with Iran to implement a series of transparency measures to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program. Accordingly, the JPOA states that a joint commission consisting of Iran and the European Union/P5+1 "will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern" -- an apparent reference to the PMD file. Yet President Hassan Rouhani and his nuclear negotiating team may be unable or unwilling to satisfactorily address questions about a possible parallel military nuclear program given an entrenched bureaucracy and fears of covert sabotage.   Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

British Jihadist Was Prayer Caller At Mosque

June 25th 2014

Rebel fighters

As a teenager he attended the Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre, where he volunteered as a "mu'adhdhin", someone who calls worshippers to prayer. Sources at the mosque have told Sky News that Amin "never, ever" showed radical tendencies. They say that if he had he would have been immediately reported to the police, with whom the mosque has a close relationship. Read more ..


Islam on Edge

Christians Remain the Most Persecuted People on Earth

June 23rd 2014

"This is not a mosque for prayers but a base for recruiting Muslim youths to engage in terrorist activities." — Police official, Mombasa, Kenya

A new law appeared in the Indonesian province of Aceh saying that Islamic laws (Sharia) be extended to non-Muslims, the majority of whom are Christian.

"Over the last few years, religious minorities have been targeted, their villages burned, accused in false cases of blasphemy, victims of intimidation, forced marriages, and forced conversions. When a Christian is accused of blasphemy, the people of a neighborhood gather to punish the culprit, burning him alive or lynching him. The police and the government have never punished such acts." — The Anglican Bishop of Karachi, Pakistan Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

ISIS, Iraq, and the War in Syria: A Military Outlook

June 22nd 2014

Oil fields near Ramadi

The stunning advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in northern and western Iraq over the past week has significant military implications for the war in Syria. The jihadist group's forces and operations in Syria have already been affected positively and negatively by its commitments in Iraq. Going forward, Syrian rebel factions may take advantage of the ISIS campaign in Iraq to move against the group's positions in Syria, especially in Raqqa province. They may also be able to capitalize on the withdrawal of Iraqi Shiite militants who had previously been fighting on behalf of the Assad regime. For the regime, the situation will require more effort by its native forces and perhaps by its Hezbollah ally, which may need to pick up the slack caused by the departure of Iraqi elements. Bashar al-Assad's forces may have increased military operations against ISIS since the latest crisis emerged, putting further pressure on the regime's limited and stretched military assets. Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

ISIL Control Key Border Town on Iraq-Syria Border

June 21st 2014

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Sunni fighters have seized an Iraqi town that borders Syria, allowing the militants to pass freely along with their weapons between the two countries, security officials said Saturday.

Fighters with the al-Qaida breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, took the border town of Qaim overnight after a day of heavy fighting on Friday. The Associated Press quoted officials speaking on the condition of anonymity saying people are now crossing back and forth freely.

Volunteers of the newly formed "Peace Brigades" participated in a parade in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, Baghdad, on June 21. 

The border breach could result in yet more fighters and weaponry flooding into Iraq, as the militants expand their battlefields and pose a growing threat to the capital, Baghdad. Read more ..


Ukraine on Edge

Russia vs. Ukraine: A Gas War Like No Other

June 19th 2014

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Russia has halted gas supplies to Ukraine -- a major escalation of a dispute in which Russia's state-owned gas giant Gazprom is demanding that Kyiv settle its huge gas debt. But in many ways, what many have dubbed the third "gas war" between the two countries is different than previous disputes in 2006 and 2009. Here's why.

This gas row is a lot more political: The gas conflict is taking place against the backdrop of deadly fighting in eastern Ukraine between government troops and separatist insurgents widely believed to be supported by Moscow. Relations between Moscow and Kyiv are at rock bottom; there have been suggestions on both sides to sever diplomatic ties. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Conflict Carries Threat of Regional War

June 17th 2014

Bomb Damage

U.N. investigators are warning the Syrian conflict is threatening the entire region.  The four-member Commission of Inquiry on Syria says a regional war in the Middle East draws ever closer.

The latest report documents the extent and violence of the abuse and suffering being endured by the Syrian people after more than three years of war.  It also warns what had been a localized state war can no longer be contained.

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry says the most dangerous aspect of these developments is the rise of the sectarian threat.  It considers this a direct consequence of the dominance of extremist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Commission member Vitit Muntarbhorn saif the Commission predicted a long time ago the dangers of a spillover of the Syrian conflict from its borders into those of its regional neighbors.     Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Israel Prepares for Major Actions

June 16th 2014

Soldiers-vehicles

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz put the world on notice Monday that Israel is "heading towards an extensive operation" against Hamas in order to recover three Israeli teenagers kidnapped on Friday.

"We have one objective," Gantz said in an IDF briefing, "find the three teens, bring them home, crack down on Hamas as hard as possible and move forward."

The IDF has already deployed in force across the West Bank, closing down the city of Hebron, calling up reserves, and doing house-to-house searches in many Palestinian towns. It is the largest IDF operation in the West Bank in years, and now appears set to become much larger.

"We are looking ahead at increasing the activity against Hamas, with an emphasis on the Hebron area," an anonymous source told YNet. Another source said that deporting Hamas officials to Gaza is also being seriously considered. Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

Senate Republican Leader Demands Obama to Take Action in Iraq

June 14th 2014

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Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has called on President Obama to provide immediate assistance to Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is battling Sunni extremists threatening to topple his government.

McConnell warned the gains made by the United States and a coalition of partners to transition Iraq from a dictatorship to a democracy, at the cost of more than 4,000 American lives and trillions of dollars, risk evaporating.

He said if the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an off shoot of al-Qaeda, takes over Iraq it would pose a “grave threat” to U.S. national security. He stopped short of calling for the redeployment of American ground troops. Obama rejected Maliki’s pleas for airstrikes last month, according to The New York Times, but opened the door to some kind of intervention in remarks Friday. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

China's Jihadists

June 14th 2014

Soldiers

On March 2, 2014, a train station in Kunming, in western China's Yunnan province, witnessed a horrific slashing attack by black-clad Uighurs wielding large knives and machetes.  The attack left 29 dead and 143 wounded. At least 9 Uighurs, members of the East Turkestan [separatists] Islamic Movement (ETIM), which have committed more than 200 terrorist attacks over the past 12 months, were identified as the attackers.

The Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from the country's northwestern region Xinjang that borders Afghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia and Tajikistan. Xinjiang is also known as East Turkestan. It is unlikely that the machete-wielding Uighurs, who traveled 900 miles away from home, could have planed the massacre without help from a few of the very small number of Kuming's Uighur residents. 

The Chinese authorities blame inflammatory videos and social media sites that have managed to evade China's Internet censorship as the instigators of the Uighur jihad movement. They also blame outside support from Sunni radicals from the 5 post-Soviet Central Asian states for growing terrorist attacks. Others claim the attack was orchestrated by al Qaeda in Xinjang. Read more ..


Defense on Edge

The Scope of the Challenge

June 14th 2014

U.S. Naval Carrier

In November 2013, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) embarked on an effort to reform what is universally recognized as a broken acquisition system within the Department of Defense. Representative Mac Thornberry (R-Tex), the HASC Vice Chairman, and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) were tasked with leading the charge on what will likely be a multi-year reform effort.

The task is daunting and has skewered many previous efforts at improvement. To understand the magnitude of the challenge, it may be helpful to view DOD as first and foremost a people-centric enterprise supporting an economy the size of a small nation. Together, military service members, civilians, and contractors (oftentimes performing interchangeable functions) use an installed capital base of machines, equipment and land to meet the national security missions of the United States. To operate this economy, DOD bought $308 billion in goods and services in 2013. How contractors are used is critical to the productivity and readiness of the Armed Services that translates into the ability to fight and deter potential enemies abroad. Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

Iran May Have Already Entered the War in Iran

June 13th 2014

Iranian government officials including President Hassan Rohani have expressed readiness to help the government of their Iraqi ally, Nuri al-Maliki, fight the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) amid Western media reports that the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard has already dispatched forces to Iraq.

Rohani warned that Tehran is not ready to stand by and tolerate the recent violence in Iraq. He did not elaborate on the time and measures Iran could take to assist Maliki. Iran's police chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam, was quoted as saying that Tehran could intervene to protect Shi'ite shrines and cities. Read more ..


The Battel for Iraq

ISIS Annual Reports Reveal a Metrics-Driven Military Command

June 13th 2014

Iraqi Militia

On March 31, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published a new edition of “al-Naba” [The Report], its “annual report” covering the period of November 2012 to November 2013. The Arabic language report, over 400 pages long, was first published by the I’tisaam Media Foundation, ISIS’s main media arm, and then re-posted online by secondary sources. This report is the second known ISIS report publicizing the results of their military campaign in Iraq. In August 2013, ISIS published a similar report covering the period of November 2011 – November 2012. This report was posted to the al-Shumukh jihadist forum, one of al-Qaeda’s primary information outlets. Although the covers of the report refer to them as the “fifth” and “fourth” years, respectively, no previous editions appear to be available online. Possibly these years refer to an organizational milestone, rather than a first edition, given that the quantity of military operations between 2009 – 2011 was not as significant. The repeated publication of consecutive annual reports indicates that the ISIS military command in Iraq has exercised command and control over a national theater since at least early 2012. ISIS in Iraq is willing and able to organize centralized reporting procedures and to publish the results of its performance to achieve organizational effects. Such organizational effects might include attracting the attention of potential donors to ISIS’s cause and also showing off an increasingly structured organization capable of more than just attacking haphazardly.
 
There are many reasons why a military organization would collect and publish attack metrics. First, metrics effectively demonstrate the use of centrally distributed resources, such as suicide bombers. Second, metrics provide a higher command with a means to compare subordinate commands and to control main efforts. Third, attack metrics provide a means to communicate organizational efficacy to outside parties, such as donors, al-Qaeda groups, and adversaries. While the contents of the annual report are more significant as a message than as a measurement of actual attacks, it is important to understand what ISIS is reporting about its own performance in order to understand its own narrative about the war in Iraq.
 
This essay will examine the statistics provided by ISIS in its two consecutive annual reports. Where possible, this report will compare the attack statistics reported by ISIS to other sources of information, such as local news and previous ISW assessments. This verification will not be possible in every instance; therefore, this report will not attempt a full quantitative or content analysis. Rather, this report is a preliminary summary in order to point out that ISIS is claiming credit for significant battlefield effects, including some that are not readily observable in open source reporting. In particular, ISIS describes its campaign for Ninewa as a main effort, which is only incidentally apparent from local news because ISIS has silenced journalists in that area through intimidation since January 2014.
 
It is important to remember that the number of attacks reported by ISIS may be exaggerated or irregularly reported; for example, it is unclear from their reported numbers how ISIS categorizes complex attacks that include more than one attack type (a raid of a building preceded by a suicide vest attack, for example). A more intensive analysis of the Arabic report content may identify monthly trends and other significant insights into how ISIS interprets data. ISIS reporting about its campaign in Ninewa makes these documents an important resource. Further analysis may also explain how ISIS in Iraq conceptualizes phased operations; how operations are resourced; and how subordinate commands operate.
- See more at: http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ISIS-Annual-Reports-Reveal-Military-Organization#sthash.L3qXRD43.dpuf
On March 31, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published a new edition of “al-Naba” [The Report], its “annual report” covering the period of November 2012 to November 2013. The Arabic language report, over 400 pages long, was first published by the I’tisaam Media Foundation, ISIS’s main media arm, and then re-posted online by secondary sources. This report is the second known ISIS report publicizing the results of their military campaign in Iraq. In August 2013, ISIS published a similar report covering the period of November 2011 – November 2012. This report was posted to the al-Shumukh jihadist forum, one of al-Qaeda’s primary information outlets. Although the covers of the report refer to them as the “fifth” and “fourth” years, respectively, no previous editions appear to be available online. Possibly these years refer to an organizational milestone, rather than a first edition, given that the quantity of military operations between 2009 – 2011 was not as significant. The repeated publication of consecutive annual reports indicates that the ISIS military command in Iraq has exercised command and control over a national theater since at least early 2012. ISIS in Iraq is willing and able to organize centralized reporting procedures and to publish the results of its performance to achieve organizational effects. Such organizational effects might include attracting the attention of potential donors to ISIS’s cause and also showing off an increasingly structured organization capable of more than just attacking haphazardly.
 
There are many reasons why a military organization would collect and publish attack metrics. First, metrics effectively demonstrate the use of centrally distributed resources, such as suicide bombers. Second, metrics provide a higher command with a means to compare subordinate commands and to control main efforts. Third, attack metrics provide a means to communicate organizational efficacy to outside parties, such as donors, al-Qaeda groups, and adversaries. While the contents of the annual report are more significant as a message than as a measurement of actual attacks, it is important to understand what ISIS is reporting about its own performance in order to understand its own narrative about the war in Iraq.
 
This essay will examine the statistics provided by ISIS in its two consecutive annual reports. Where possible, this report will compare the attack statistics reported by ISIS to other sources of information, such as local news and previous ISW assessments. This verification will not be possible in every instance; therefore, this report will not attempt a full quantitative or content analysis. Rather, this report is a preliminary summary in order to point out that ISIS is claiming credit for significant battlefield effects, including some that are not readily observable in open source reporting. In particular, ISIS describes its campaign for Ninewa as a main effort, which is only incidentally apparent from local news because ISIS has silenced journalists in that area through intimidation since January 2014.
 
It is important to remember that the number of attacks reported by ISIS may be exaggerated or irregularly reported; for example, it is unclear from their reported numbers how ISIS categorizes complex attacks that include more than one attack type (a raid of a building preceded by a suicide vest attack, for example). A more intensive analysis of the Arabic report content may identify monthly trends and other significant insights into how ISIS interprets data. ISIS reporting about its campaign in Ninewa makes these documents an important resource. Further analysis may also explain how ISIS in Iraq conceptualizes phased operations; how operations are resourced; and how subordinate commands operate.
- See more at: http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ISIS-Annual-Reports-Reveal-Military-Organization#sthash.L3qXRD43.dpuf

On March 31, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published a new edition of “al-Naba” [The Report], its “annual report” covering the period of November 2012 to November 2013. The Arabic language report, over 400 pages long, was first published by the I’tisaam Media Foundation, ISIS’s main media arm, and then re-posted online by secondary sources. This report is the second known ISIS report publicizing the results of their military campaign in Iraq.

In August 2013, ISIS published a similar report covering the period of November 2011 – November 2012. This report was posted to the al-Shumukh jihadist forum, one of al-Qaeda’s primary information outlets. Although the covers of the report refer to them as the “fifth” and “fourth” years, respectively, no previous editions appear to be available online. Read more ..


Jordan on Edge

Iraqi Jihadists Threaten to Kill Jordan's King and Envelope the Mideast

June 13th 2014

Click to select Image

The recent victories in Iraq and Syria by the terrorists of ISIS -- said to be an offshoot of al-Qaeda -- have emboldened the group and its followers throughout the Middle East. Now the terrorists are planning to move their jihad not only to Jordan, but also to the Gaza Strip, Sinai and Lebanon.

Failure to act will result in the establishment in the Middle East of a dangerous extremist Islamic empire that will pose a threat to American and Western interests.

"The danger is getting closer to our bedrooms." — Oraib al-Rantawi, Jordanian political analyst.

Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Syria have begun creeping toward neighboring countries, sources close to the Islamic fundamentalists revealed this week. Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

Iraq Falling--What It Means

June 12th 2014

ISIS

According to the pattern already implemented in the “conquered” areas in Syria, the ISIS will likely begin its rule by establishing a Caliphate governed by Islamic law – Shari’ah – and headed by its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, a jihadist who began as an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in 2003. In February 2014, Al-Baghdadi refused to declare allegiance when Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri demanded that he subordinate himself to the Jabhat Al-Nusra jihadist organization fighting the regime in Syria.

ISIS presented the non-Muslim population with three choices: either convert, pay a special tax (the Islamic per capita tax “jizya“) applied to non-Muslims, or leave the area. A first signs of this development are the 500,000 residents of Mosul fleeing the area, mostly Assyrians of Christian faith, who historically were the majority of the population in the Ninawa (Nineveh) Governorate surrounding Mosul.

The Meaning of the ISIS Victory

The ISIS’ achievement in Mosul has very dire implications:

Analysts originally estimated ISIS’s strength to be around two to three thousand fighters. The Mosul campaign means that the assessment was a gross underestimation.

Moreover, it appears that ISIS has mastered communications and tactical operations suggesting that it may have adopted the pattern of an organized army, graduating from guerrilla warfare and undisciplined bands.

The Iraqi army’s disintegration and disorderly retreat show a lack of leadership, a low morale and a weak resolve to fight the insurgents. This may lead the ISIS to exploit its victory and carry out further attacks on army outposts and to enlarge ISIS’s territory (perhaps towards the oil city of Kirkuk).

The ISIS now neighbors the Iraqi Kurdish area which leads to several assessments:

1. The Kurds, seeing the Iraqi central regime’s weakness, will take all the necessary measures to protect their autonomy and expand their influence to neighboring Syrian Kurdistan. The Kurds understand very well that they could be the next target after the Assyrians and accordingly will preempt any attempt by the jihadists to step foot in their areas. The fall of Mosul could become the beginning of Kurdish quest for independence.

2. Mosul is a strategic city at the crossroads between Syria and Iran. Several strategic oil and gas pipelines crisscross this area to the west, north and south. The presence of the ISIS represents a threat if the ISIS takes possession of oil-producing areas and shipments. Destabilizing northern Iraq and further deteriorating the security of other areas such as Baghdad and further south to Basra, could have dire consequences of Iraq’s production and export of oil. In an extreme scenario, one could envisage a situation similar to Libya, where militias’ rule brought Libya’s production of oil almost to a halt.

Today, Iraq fills the gap created by Libya’s absence in the oil market. Would Iran and Saudi Arabia be able to replace Iraq production?

A Titanic Cataclysm

3. The city of Mosul is 45 miles south of the mammoth Mosul Dam formerly known as the Saddam Dam.2 Built on a water-dissolving gypsum foundation, the dam’s stability has generated great concerns and led to major reconstruction and rehabilitation program since 2003. A man-made or natural collapse of that dam could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing tens of thousands of people and flooding the largest cities in the country, according to assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.

American officials have warned that the dam’s collapse could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet. “In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world,” the Army Corps concluded in September 2006.

At this point in time, it is not known if the ISIS controls also the dam or if it is in the hands of the Kurds or the Iraqi Government. Falling into ISIS hands could represent a huge threat of “titanic” dimensions were the jihadists to use the dam as an extortion weapon against the Iraqi regime. Even without trying to destroy the dam, the possibility of the dam remaining under their control raises the question of the maintenance and the resilience of its foundations if not taken care on a continuous basis.

4. In order to keep Iraq as a unified political entity, the regime has no choice but to declare war on the ISIS. Failure to dislodge the ISIS from Mosul and from other cities will signal other communities that they have to take care of their own interests. This could lead to the partition of Iraq into four main autonomous areas: the Kurds in the northeast, the Sunnites in Baghdad area, ISIS in the northeast and the Shi’ite autonomous areas in the south comprising Najf, Karbala and Basra.

Unknown Iranian and American Reactions

5. Facing this situation, Iran will likely intervene in order to assist its Shi’ite neighbor. Iran cannot accept the partition of Iraq as a solution because the irredentist trends in Iraq might find an echo in Iran itself. Then, as in the case of Syria, losing Shi’ite Iraq to the Sunnites would mean in the long run another conflict with Iraq. In this situation would Iran choose to intervene like in Syria, through proxies such as Iraqi Hizbullah or expeditionary Lebanese Hizbullah units, or through its own Basij units?

6. The U.S. Administration also has to act swiftly to preserve its own national interests and to prevent “newcomers” replacing the U.S. role in Iraq. A divided Iraq or an Iraq caught up in civil war is not of America’s interests. The U.S. choices stop short of sending troops to Iraq. American assistance would be limited to actions such as providing intelligence, carrying out drone attacks, training, and/or supplying sophisticated lethal and intelligence equipment. In this perspective, the U.S. administration might be led to assess that its ongoing dialogue with Iran could also include regional issues, such as the stability of Iraq.

7. Finally, the ISIS victory in Mosul could become a beacon to rally other jihadist organizations (such as in Nigeria) and another threat to the monarchies of the Gulf. The ISIS has proven that years after the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and of Mali by the MNLA, the jihadist organizations are still capable of mass operations and not only limited to small scale guerrilla warfare.

On the other hand, the same examples of Afghanistan, Mali, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Central African Republic demonstrate very clearly that no terrorist organization can withstand a head-on collision with an organized, well-led regular army. It is up to the Iraqi government to make the tough decision to enter into armed conflict in order to prevail.

- See more at: http://jcpa.org/fall-mosul-iraq-jihadists-game-changer/#sthash.pOBXmqhG.dpuf

According to the pattern already implemented in the “conquered” areas in Syria, the ISIS will likely begin its rule by establishing a Caliphate governed by Islamic law – Shari’ah – and headed by its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, a jihadist who began as an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in 2003. In February 2014, Al-Baghdadi refused to declare allegiance when Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri demanded that he subordinate himself to the Jabhat Al-Nusra jihadist organization fighting the regime in Syria.

ISIS presented the non-Muslim population with three choices: either convert, pay a special tax (the Islamic per capita tax “jizya“) applied to non-Muslims, or leave the area. A first signs of this development are the 500,000 residents of Mosul fleeing the area, mostly Assyrians of Christian faith, who historically were the majority of the population in the Ninawa (Nineveh) Governorate surrounding Mosul.

The Meaning of the ISIS Victory

The ISIS’ achievement in Mosul has very dire implications:

Analysts originally estimated ISIS’s strength to be around two to three thousand fighters. The Mosul campaign means that the assessment was a gross underestimation.

Moreover, it appears that ISIS has mastered communications and tactical operations suggesting that it may have adopted the pattern of an organized army, graduating from guerrilla warfare and undisciplined bands.

The Iraqi army’s disintegration and disorderly retreat show a lack of leadership, a low morale and a weak resolve to fight the insurgents. This may lead the ISIS to exploit its victory and carry out further attacks on army outposts and to enlarge ISIS’s territory (perhaps towards the oil city of Kirkuk).

The ISIS now neighbors the Iraqi Kurdish area which leads to several assessments:

1. The Kurds, seeing the Iraqi central regime’s weakness, will take all the necessary measures to protect their autonomy and expand their influence to neighboring Syrian Kurdistan. The Kurds understand very well that they could be the next target after the Assyrians and accordingly will preempt any attempt by the jihadists to step foot in their areas. The fall of Mosul could become the beginning of Kurdish quest for independence.

2. Mosul is a strategic city at the crossroads between Syria and Iran. Several strategic oil and gas pipelines crisscross this area to the west, north and south. The presence of the ISIS represents a threat if the ISIS takes possession of oil-producing areas and shipments. Destabilizing northern Iraq and further deteriorating the security of other areas such as Baghdad and further south to Basra, could have dire consequences of Iraq’s production and export of oil. In an extreme scenario, one could envisage a situation similar to Libya, where militias’ rule brought Libya’s production of oil almost to a halt.

Today, Iraq fills the gap created by Libya’s absence in the oil market. Would Iran and Saudi Arabia be able to replace Iraq production?

A Titanic Cataclysm

3. The city of Mosul is 45 miles south of the mammoth Mosul Dam formerly known as the Saddam Dam.2 Built on a water-dissolving gypsum foundation, the dam’s stability has generated great concerns and led to major reconstruction and rehabilitation program since 2003. A man-made or natural collapse of that dam could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing tens of thousands of people and flooding the largest cities in the country, according to assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.

American officials have warned that the dam’s collapse could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet. “In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world,” the Army Corps concluded in September 2006.

At this point in time, it is not known if the ISIS controls also the dam or if it is in the hands of the Kurds or the Iraqi Government. Falling into ISIS hands could represent a huge threat of “titanic” dimensions were the jihadists to use the dam as an extortion weapon against the Iraqi regime. Even without trying to destroy the dam, the possibility of the dam remaining under their control raises the question of the maintenance and the resilience of its foundations if not taken care on a continuous basis.

4. In order to keep Iraq as a unified political entity, the regime has no choice but to declare war on the ISIS. Failure to dislodge the ISIS from Mosul and from other cities will signal other communities that they have to take care of their own interests. This could lead to the partition of Iraq into four main autonomous areas: the Kurds in the northeast, the Sunnites in Baghdad area, ISIS in the northeast and the Shi’ite autonomous areas in the south comprising Najf, Karbala and Basra.

Unknown Iranian and American Reactions

5. Facing this situation, Iran will likely intervene in order to assist its Shi’ite neighbor. Iran cannot accept the partition of Iraq as a solution because the irredentist trends in Iraq might find an echo in Iran itself. Then, as in the case of Syria, losing Shi’ite Iraq to the Sunnites would mean in the long run another conflict with Iraq. In this situation would Iran choose to intervene like in Syria, through proxies such as Iraqi Hizbullah or expeditionary Lebanese Hizbullah units, or through its own Basij units?

6. The U.S. Administration also has to act swiftly to preserve its own national interests and to prevent “newcomers” replacing the U.S. role in Iraq. A divided Iraq or an Iraq caught up in civil war is not of America’s interests. The U.S. choices stop short of sending troops to Iraq. American assistance would be limited to actions such as providing intelligence, carrying out drone attacks, training, and/or supplying sophisticated lethal and intelligence equipment. In this perspective, the U.S. administration might be led to assess that its ongoing dialogue with Iran could also include regional issues, such as the stability of Iraq.

7. Finally, the ISIS victory in Mosul could become a beacon to rally other jihadist organizations (such as in Nigeria) and another threat to the monarchies of the Gulf. The ISIS has proven that years after the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and of Mali by the MNLA, the jihadist organizations are still capable of mass operations and not only limited to small scale guerrilla warfare.

On the other hand, the same examples of Afghanistan, Mali, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Central African Republic demonstrate very clearly that no terrorist organization can withstand a head-on collision with an organized, well-led regular army. It is up to the Iraqi government to make the tough decision to enter into armed conflict in order to prevail.

- See more at: http://jcpa.org/fall-mosul-iraq-jihadists-game-changer/#sthash.pOBXmqhG.dpuf

According to the pattern already implemented in the “conquered” areas in Syria, the ISIS will likely begin its rule by establishing a Caliphate governed by Islamic law – Shari’ah – and headed by its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, a jihadist who began as an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in 2003. In February 2014, Al-Baghdadi refused to declare allegiance when Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri demanded that he subordinate himself to the Jabhat Al-Nusra jihadist organization fighting the regime in Syria.

ISIS presented the non-Muslim population with three choices: either convert, pay a special tax (the Islamic per capita tax “jizya“) applied to non-Muslims, or leave the area. A first signs of this development are the 500,000 residents of Mosul fleeing the area, mostly Assyrians of Christian faith, who historically were the majority of the population in the Ninawa (Nineveh) Governorate surrounding Mosul.

The Meaning of the ISIS Victory

The ISIS’ achievement in Mosul has very dire implications:

Analysts originally estimated ISIS’s strength to be around two to three thousand fighters. The Mosul campaign means that the assessment was a gross underestimation.

Moreover, it appears that ISIS has mastered communications and tactical operations suggesting that it may have adopted the pattern of an organized army, graduating from guerrilla warfare and undisciplined bands.

The Iraqi army’s disintegration and disorderly retreat show a lack of leadership, a low morale and a weak resolve to fight the insurgents. This may lead the ISIS to exploit its victory and carry out further attacks on army outposts and to enlarge ISIS’s territory (perhaps towards the oil city of Kirkuk).

The ISIS now neighbors the Iraqi Kurdish area which leads to several assessments:

1. The Kurds, seeing the Iraqi central regime’s weakness, will take all the necessary measures to protect their autonomy and expand their influence to neighboring Syrian Kurdistan. The Kurds understand very well that they could be the next target after the Assyrians and accordingly will preempt any attempt by the jihadists to step foot in their areas. The fall of Mosul could become the beginning of Kurdish quest for independence.

2. Mosul is a strategic city at the crossroads between Syria and Iran. Several strategic oil and gas pipelines crisscross this area to the west, north and south. The presence of the ISIS represents a threat if the ISIS takes possession of oil-producing areas and shipments. Destabilizing northern Iraq and further deteriorating the security of other areas such as Baghdad and further south to Basra, could have dire consequences of Iraq’s production and export of oil. In an extreme scenario, one could envisage a situation similar to Libya, where militias’ rule brought Libya’s production of oil almost to a halt.

Today, Iraq fills the gap created by Libya’s absence in the oil market. Would Iran and Saudi Arabia be able to replace Iraq production?

A Titanic Cataclysm

3. The city of Mosul is 45 miles south of the mammoth Mosul Dam formerly known as the Saddam Dam.2 Built on a water-dissolving gypsum foundation, the dam’s stability has generated great concerns and led to major reconstruction and rehabilitation program since 2003. A man-made or natural collapse of that dam could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing tens of thousands of people and flooding the largest cities in the country, according to assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.

American officials have warned that the dam’s collapse could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet. “In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world,” the Army Corps concluded in September 2006.

At this point in time, it is not known if the ISIS controls also the dam or if it is in the hands of the Kurds or the Iraqi Government. Falling into ISIS hands could represent a huge threat of “titanic” dimensions were the jihadists to use the dam as an extortion weapon against the Iraqi regime. Even without trying to destroy the dam, the possibility of the dam remaining under their control raises the question of the maintenance and the resilience of its foundations if not taken care on a continuous basis.

4. In order to keep Iraq as a unified political entity, the regime has no choice but to declare war on the ISIS. Failure to dislodge the ISIS from Mosul and from other cities will signal other communities that they have to take care of their own interests. This could lead to the partition of Iraq into four main autonomous areas: the Kurds in the northeast, the Sunnites in Baghdad area, ISIS in the northeast and the Shi’ite autonomous areas in the south comprising Najf, Karbala and Basra.

Unknown Iranian and American Reactions

5. Facing this situation, Iran will likely intervene in order to assist its Shi’ite neighbor. Iran cannot accept the partition of Iraq as a solution because the irredentist trends in Iraq might find an echo in Iran itself. Then, as in the case of Syria, losing Shi’ite Iraq to the Sunnites would mean in the long run another conflict with Iraq. In this situation would Iran choose to intervene like in Syria, through proxies such as Iraqi Hizbullah or expeditionary Lebanese Hizbullah units, or through its own Basij units?

6. The U.S. Administration also has to act swiftly to preserve its own national interests and to prevent “newcomers” replacing the U.S. role in Iraq. A divided Iraq or an Iraq caught up in civil war is not of America’s interests. The U.S. choices stop short of sending troops to Iraq. American assistance would be limited to actions such as providing intelligence, carrying out drone attacks, training, and/or supplying sophisticated lethal and intelligence equipment. In this perspective, the U.S. administration might be led to assess that its ongoing dialogue with Iran could also include regional issues, such as the stability of Iraq.

7. Finally, the ISIS victory in Mosul could become a beacon to rally other jihadist organizations (such as in Nigeria) and another threat to the monarchies of the Gulf. The ISIS has proven that years after the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and of Mali by the MNLA, the jihadist organizations are still capable of mass operations and not only limited to small scale guerrilla warfare.

On the other hand, the same examples of Afghanistan, Mali, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Central African Republic demonstrate very clearly that no terrorist organization can withstand a head-on collision with an organized, well-led regular army. It is up to the Iraqi government to make the tough decision to enter into armed conflict in order to prevail.

- See more at: http://jcpa.org/fall-mosul-iraq-jihadists-game-changer/#sthash.pOBXmqhG.dpuf

According to the pattern already implemented in the “conquered” areas in Syria, the ISIS will likely begin its rule by establishing a Caliphate governed by Islamic law – Shari’ah – and headed by its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, a jihadist who began as an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in 2003. In February 2014, Al-Baghdadi refused to declare allegiance when Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri demanded that he subordinate himself to the Jabhat Al-Nusra jihadist organization fighting the regime in Syria.

ISIS presented the non-Muslim population with three choices: either convert, pay a special tax (the Islamic per capita tax “jizya“) applied to non-Muslims, or leave the area. A first signs of this development are the 500,000 residents of Mosul fleeing the area, mostly Assyrians of Christian faith, who historically were the majority of the population in the Ninawa (Nineveh) Governorate surrounding Mosul. Read more ..


The War on Terror

U.S. Slams Pakistan with Renewed Drone Attacks

June 12th 2014

Pakistani residents and intelligence officials say two suspected U.S. drone strikes have killed at least a dozen people in the North Waziristan tribal region that borders Afghanistan. If confirmed, the strikes led by the CIA that took place late June 11 and early June 12 may be the first American drone action in Pakistan in six months.

Residents and officials say unmanned aircraft fired a number of missiles at a vehicle and a suspected militant compound in separate parts of the Waziristan district. Some officials said members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) were among those killed. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Warns 5,000km-Range Missile Can Hit US Indian Ocean Base

June 10th 2014

Iran Long-Range Missile

Tehran has ballistic missiles able to pound targets over twice as distant as previously thought, and can reach the American mid-ocean strategic base at Diego Garcia, a senior Iranian official has explicitly warned.

“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.

Dhualnuri made the statements in the context of talks with the United States and western powers to curb its believed goal of creating nuclear weapons, Israel’s Channel Two reported Monday.

Iranian political and military leaders have, until now, only publicly admitted to possessing ballistic weapons with about a 2,000 km range. Diego Garcia, situated on a lone lagoon in the Indian Ocean, houses major Air Force, naval and submarine, space and communications, and logistics facilities. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Pakistan Taliban Claims Responsibility for Assault on Karachi Airport

June 9th 2014

Pakistani Taliban

The Pakistani Taliban is claiming responsibility for Sunday night’s deadly assault on the country’s largest international airport in Karachi that left at least 28 people dead, including 10 “terrorists” and more than a dozen security personnel.

Authorities say that just before midnight a group of around 10 heavily armed militants, some wearing military uniforms, infiltrated an old terminal at Karachi’s busy Jinnah International Airport.

Suspected Taliban insurgents carrying automatic weapons, hand grenades and rocket launchers shot their way into the facility, which is used mainly for cargo and executive flights. The audacious coordinated assault triggered an intense five-hour gun battle with security forces guarding the terminal that lasted into Monday morning. Read more ..


Thev Edge of Terrorism

Syria's Jihadis Are Coming Home

June 8th 2014

Syrian Rebel w/SAW

The war in Syria threatens to tear the region apart along sectarian lines, leading to a sharp rise in violent extremism from within both the radical Sunni and Shiite camps. Syria's neighbors bear the immediate brunt of the conflict, as they struggle to contend with the steady stream of refugees flowing across their borders. But the repercussions of the war in Syria are being felt far beyond Syria's borders. Last week, two events drove this point home for policymakers in very specific ways.

On May 25, Moner Mohammad Abusalha, an American in his early 20s from South Florida, became the first American suicide bomber in the Syrian jihad. Less than 24 hours later, Fawzi Ayoub -- a senior Hezbollah commander who once lived in the United States and Canada, was a naturalized Canadian citizen, and was featured on the FBI's most wanted terrorist list -- was killed in a rebel ambush. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Kurds Under Increased Pressure From Jihadists

June 7th 2014

Syrian Jihadis

Following military successes earlier this year against jihadist fighters, an ethnic Kurdish militia that has been carving out a de facto Kurdish state in northeastern Syria is now facing a renewed challenge from a powerful al-Qaida offshoot.

In a sign of growing aggression against the Kurds, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant known as ISIS, which was disowned earlier this year by the al-Qaida leadership, has launched an offensive against Syrian Kurds, both in the far northeast adjacent to the borders with Iraq and Turkey, and in Kurdish areas in Aleppo province. Kurdish sources concede militiamen from the Kurdish Democratic Union Party PYD are suffering reversals.

The PYD, an affiliate of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a separatist movement that has battled the Turkish government for Kurdish autonomy for three decades, scored a series of victories over jihadist rebel groups last autumn and during the winter. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Death of a Terrorist: Hezbollah Operative Recently Killed in Syria

June 6th 2014

al Qaeda Fighters

On May 26, 2014, Hezbollah announced the death of Hajj Fawzi Mustafa Muhammad Ayoub (Hajj Abu Abbas). He was a senior field operative with a long history of terrorist activity abroad. According to Hezbollah he was killed while "fulfilling his duty of jihad." There are two versions of where he died. Lebanese and Syrian media reported that he was commanding a Hezbollah force in Aleppo, and was killed there. However, "Lebanese security sources" and a Syrian source reported that he was killed in the Syrian town of Nawa in the southern Golan Heights, in the Dara'a province (Alzaman.com, albawaba.com, May 27, 2014). It was also reported that last year he was wounded in the battles at Al-Qusayr (Saidaonline.com, all4syria.info, May 28, 2014).

Read more ..

Mexico on Edge

Baby-Boom Expatriates Demand Better Security in Mexico

June 4th 2014

Foreign-born residents joined Mexican nationals in a recent demonstration demanding security for a storied but troubled town. Dressed in white and carrying candles, about 400 people staged a silent march late last week through San Miguel de Allende in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato.

Ruth Kear, a former U.S. resident who currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, articulated public safety fears held by a growing number of residents which, in her case, is based on personal experience. Kear told a Mexican reporter that she had been robbed three times in her home, including on two occasions by armed and masked thieves. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Israel's Air Force to Increases its Operational Capabilities by 400%

June 2nd 2014

IAF Fighter

The Israeli Air Force chief stated last week that the IDF’s offensive capabilities will quadruple by the end of 2014. In a single day, Israeli planes will be able to strike thousands of terror targets and expand the IDF’s achievements during extended operations.

Major General Amir Eshel, Commander of the Israel Air Force, spoke last week at the Tenth Annual Conference for National Security on the contribution of air power to Israel’s strategic capabilities. Maj. Gen. Eshel discussed the air force’s attack and defensive capabilities during times of war and routine operations.

“I believe our capabilities are only second to the United States, from both an offensive and defensive standpoint,” the IAF commander said, referring to a significant leap in capabilities over the past two years. He based his assessment on an evaluation of IDF abilities and conversations with officials from foreign militaries.  Read more ..


Edge of Islam

Europe's 'Newspeak' Approach to Islamist Terror

June 2nd 2014

Yesterday, French police arrested the terrorist accused of murdering three Jews in Brussels, Belgium on the eve of the European elections. The killer, 29-year old French citizen Mehdi Nemmouche, a son of Muslim immigrants, had gone to Syria in 2013, where he joined the rebels against President Bashar al-Assad and was trained as a jihadist.

On Saturday afternoon, May 24, Nemmouche walked into the Jewish Museum in Brussels, armed with a pistol and a Kalashnikov assault rifle. He killed three Jews, including two Israeli tourists, and seriously wounded another, who is still fighting for his life in hospital. Then Nemmouche calmly walked out of the museum.

During the past three years, thousands of young Islamic immigrants from France, Germany, Britain and all other European countries, as well as young Western Islamic converts, have gone to Syria, where they trained to be killing machines. Some of them have returned home, where they now constitute the biggest threat to domestic security in decades. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Hamas Funding Violence on Temple Mount--Captured Operative Reveals

June 1st 2014

DomeOfTheRock

Israel's Shabak security service lifted last week a gag order on the arrest of a senior Hamas terrorist in April 2014. The Shabak arrested Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Tuama as he treid to enter Israel from Jordan via the Allenby Border Cross. Tuama was born in 1951 and is married with 8 children. Originally from Tul Karem, he has been residing in Saudi Arabia since the 1970's. He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1983 and joined Hamas as early as 1987 when the terror organization was established. He admitted to being a member of the Hamas General Shura Council headed by Khaled Mashal since 2008. The General Shura Council is Hamas' supreme leadership entity that shapes the organizations overall policy, including its military strategy.

Tuama disclosed eye-opening insights to the organization's methods of operation, financing and connections to other organizations.

He stipulated that Hamas is directly involved in the recent escalation of violence on the Temple Mount and is funding it. In recent months there has been a sharp increase in violence activity perpetrated by Arabs on the Temple Mount. In some of the cases Israeli police had to close the Mount to Jewish visitors as a result of the extreme hostility. Tuama stated that Hamas is behind the projects of the Islamic Movement Institution, 'Omara al Aqsa', which acts to prevent visits of Jews on the Temple Mount using an array of hundreds of activists who stay on the Temple Mount compound day and night. This institution was administratively closed in late 2013 by the Shabak and Israeli police due to the violent use Hamas and the Islamic Movement have made of this institution. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

ISIS Committing Atrocities Against Civilian Population in Northern Syria

May 29th 2014

ISIS

Evidence is mounting that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is systematically committing atrocities in eastern and northern Syria, its areas of control.

While individual incidents of brutality have been well-documented, the near-impossibility of on-the-spot reporting in the area controlled by the organization has made it difficult to build a general description of the situation there. However, as more and more witnesses come forward, the picture is gradually becoming clearer.

Public executions are a regular weekly occurrence in Raqqa city, the provincial capital controlled by ISIS. In a number of verified cases, the bodies of executed people have been “crucified” — placed on crosses in public areas after execution by other means, supposedly to act as a deterrent to others. (Note: at least one crucifixion of a living victim by an Islamist group has occurred recently, in Yemen.) Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

The Proliferation of Suicide Bombing in the Middle East and Beyond

May 28th 2014

Child Suicide Bomber

Suicide bombings make for frequent headlines in most newspapers.  Today, AP reported the suicide bombing of a bus full of South Korean Christian tourists waiting at the Egypt-Israel border crossing in Sinai.

While suicide attacks to achieve martyrdom are not new, they have gradually become a more prominent feature in the Islamist arsenal.  Particularly troubling is the extent to which most are directed at civilian targets.

In 2006, researchers in Australia showed that between 1981 and 2006, 1200 suicide attacks constituted 4 percent of all terrorist attacks in the world and killed 14,599 people–32 percent of all terrorism-related deaths.  The study also revealed that 90 percent of these attacks occurred in Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka.

Another study reports that in the ten years after September 11, 2001, there were 336 suicide attacks in Afghanistan and 303 in Pakistan, while there were 1,003 documented suicide attacks in Iraq between March 20, 2003, and December 31, 2010. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Protect American Commercial Fleet From Shoulder-Fired Missiles

May 27th 2014

Boeing 787

Speaking at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, former CIA director General David Petraeus issued a serious warning about the international threats posed by shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (Manpads) in the hands of al Qaeda and other terrorists.  Petraeus referred to the January 27th downing of an Egyptian military helicopter by a Russian Strela-2 missile (aka SA-7) by al Qaeda-affiliated Ansar Beit al-Maqdis in the Sinai Peninsula. “Shooting down a helicopter with an apparent shoulder-fired missile is a big deal. … Our worst nightmare [was] that a civilian airliner would be shot down by one,” he said. … “The concern over an attack on civilian aviation flows not only from the loss of passengers’ lives, but also from the likely economic consequences that would follow—a worldwide grounding of air traffic that might bring the global economy to a screeching halt.” Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Obama White House Blows CIA Station Chief's Cover

May 27th 2014

Click to select Image

The White House accidentally revealed the identity of the top CIA agent in Afghanistan on Saturday.

The Kabul station chief’s name was initially included on list of more than two dozen people meeting with President Obama during his short visit to Bagram Airfield in the country on Saturday. The CIA agent was identified as “chief of station” in an email sent to reporters covering the White House as part of a routine pool report.

A revised version was sent shortly afterwards that did not include the chief’s name.

The Hill is withholding the officer’s name at the request of the Obama administration, which said that identifying the agent could make them a terrorist target. Both the White House and CIA declined to comment. Read more ..



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