Archive for category Islamic state

Police storm Sydney cafe to end hostage siege, three dead

By Lincoln Feast and Colin Packham
Reuters
Dec 16, 2014

SYDNEY – Heavily armed Australian police stormed a Sydney cafe on Tuesday and freed a number of hostages being held there at gunpoint, in a dramatic end to a 16-hour siege in which three people were killed and four wounded.

New South Wales police said two men, aged 34 and 50, and a 38-year-old woman died. The attacker was among the fatalities.

Heavy gunfire and blasts from stun grenades filled the air shortly after 2 a.m. local time (1500 GMT on Monday).

Moments earlier at least six people believed to have been held captive managed to flee after gunshots were heard coming from the cafe, and police later confirmed that they made their move in response.

So far 17 hostages have been accounted for.

Medics tried to resuscitate at least one person after the raid and took away several wounded people on stretchers, said a Reuters witness at the scene in downtown Sydney. Bomb squad members moved in to search for explosives, but none were found.

The operation began shortly after a police source named the gunman as Man Haron Monis, an Iranian refugee and self-styled sheikh facing multiple charges of sexual assault as well as being an accessory to murder. Read the rest of this entry »

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Inside the battle for Ask.fm, the site where Islamic State recruited three American teens

By Caitlin Dewey
Washington Post
December 12, 2014

When three teenage girls from Denver left their homes for an Islamic State camp in Syria two months ago, their parents — and the FBI — were quick to search social media for clues to their escape. And in the weeks since the girls were intercepted in Frankfurt and returned home, it’s become pretty clear that they were indeed radicalized and recruited online.

But while accounts of similar Western recruits have fingered major social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr, or popular messaging platforms like Kik, a report out from NPR claims another social network, Ask.fm, was actually the major force at play.

Which means Ask.fm — late of several recent cyberbullying and teen suicide scandals — may now officially qualify as the worst-reputed social network on earth. But don’t tell that to the site’s new owner, the blue-chip Internet company IAC: Ask.fm’s new owners are confident they can save the site, trolls and terrorists be damned.

“I absolutely believe rehabilitation is possible if you do the right thing,” said Doug Leeds, the site’s CEO. “There is that perception that [Ask.fm] is a parent’s worst nightmare … but safety is our first priority.”

Unfortunately for Leeds, that reputation has dogged Ask.fm since its beginning. The anonymous question-and-answer site — both a pioneer and an early warning, in the anonymous networking space — was founded in Latvia in 2010, and quickly grew to more than 100 million users in 150 countries. Its premise, both simple and mind-numbingly self-involved, is perfect for the teenage set: Essentially, when you log into Ask.fm, you’re greeted by a series of personal questions other users have left for you, with no indication of who wrote them or how they know you in real life.

You, in turn, get to pontificate to the anonymous masses on topics like “what do you do to fall asleep?” and “what’s the most delicious fruit?” — as well as, naturally, ask anonymous questions, yourself. Read the rest of this entry »

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India-based Twitter account hailing Islamic State jihadists shut down

Chris Johnston
The Guardian
11 December 2014

Owner of the ShamiWitness account, with almost 18,000 followers, was an executive at a company in Bangalore

A Twitter account followed by supporters of Islamic State (Isis) has been shut down after a reporter exposed the Indian man who had sent thousands of tweets about the jihadist group.

Channel 4 News revealed on Thursday night that the owner of the ShamiWitness account was an executive at a company in Bangalore called Medhi. It did not reveal his full name because he said his life would be in danger if he was identified.

However, after being tracked down he agreed to shut down the account, which hailed foreign Isis fighters who were killed as martyrs.

ShamiWitness had almost 18,000 followers and the tweets were seen an estimated 2 million times a month. They were mostly sent from his smartphone.

Mehdi said he would have joined Isis, but that he could not leave his family: “If I had a chance to leave everything and join them I might have … my family needs me here.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Germany jails Islamic State jihadist Kreshnik Berisha

BBC News
5 December 2014

A German man has been jailed for three years and nine months for joining Islamic State (IS) militants, in the first trial of its kind in Germany.

A court in Frankfurt convicted Kreshnik Berisha of membership of a foreign terrorist organisation.

Berisha avoided the heaviest sentence of 10 years after admitting he spent six months with IS in Syria last year.

German authorities believe more than 500 German citizens have travelled to fight for IS in Iraq and Syria.

The domestic intelligence agency estimates that 60 have died there in combat or suicide attacks, and 180 have returned to Germany, according to the AFP news agency. Read the rest of this entry »

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ISIS in Gaza

by Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute
December 5, 2014

When One Radical Group Believes Another Is Not Radical Enough

It is always dreamlike to see one Islamist terror group accuse the other of being too “lenient” when it comes to enforcing sharia laws. But it is not dreamlike when a terrorist group starts threatening writers and women.

That is what is happening these days in the Gaza Strip, where supporters of the Islamic State are accusing Hamas of failing to impose strict Islamic laws on the Palestinian population — as if Hamas has thus far endorsed a liberal and open-minded approach toward those who violate sharia laws.

Until this week, the only topic Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were talking about was how to rebuild homes and buildings that were destroyed during the last war between Hamas and Israel.

Now, however, almost everyone is talking about the Islamic State threats against poets, writers and women. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kurds Defend Kobani From Islamic State

Huffington Post/AP
12/04/2014

KOBANI, Syria (AP) — The men and women of Kobani call one another “heval” — Kurdish for ‘comrade’ — and fight with revolutionary conviction, vowing to liberate what they regard as Kurdish land from Islamic State group militants.

Amid the wasteland and destroyed buildings, a sense of camaraderie has developed among the town’s defenders who have for more than two months doggedly fought off the advances by the extremists.

Often, members of the same family can be found on the front lines.

Nineteen-year-old Shida’s father was a fighter before her. After he was killed, she gave up hopes of becoming an artist and decided she must follow in his footsteps to honor his example. She says her mother supports her decision. One of her six brothers is also fighting, the rest of her siblings are living in Turkey. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State crisis: UK gives £20m to keep Lebanon safe

By Paul Wood
BBC
1 December 2014

The Lebanese army’s Brig Gen Ali Mourad got a WhatsApp message from the Islamic State (IS). It was short and to the point. “We are the heroes of Qalamoun,” it said, referring to the mountains on Syria’s border with Lebanon, “and we’re going to kill you.”

Gen Mourad has a robust attitude to this threat.

“We want them to come, these terrorists,” he told me, at one of the heavily fortified positions paid for by the British government.

“We are waiting for them [here].

“When we see them, we shoot them, all the time.”

We were at Tango Ten, the 10th of 12 new posts built so far with UK money and expertise along Lebanon’s border with Syria. It looked down over a dusty plain to the snow-covered mountain that is controlled by various jihadist groups and used by them as a base to launch attacks.

The Lebanese soldiers at Tango Ten say they come under fire almost every night. They used to crouch behind a few tyres filled with concrete, “eyes like saucers, gripping the 50-cal [heavy machine gun,” said one of the former British army officers advising the Lebanese. Now they have proper defences, and morale is good.

Tango Ten had shades of Northern Ireland in the guard tower and Afghanistan in the Hesco barriers – which are earth-filled defensive walls. There was even a fleet of Land Rovers parked inside.

The UK has spent some £20m to stop the jihadists from invading Lebanon. Read the rest of this entry »

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Iran Bombing Islamic State In Iraq, U.S. Official Confirms

Akbar Shahid Ahmed
Huffington Post
12/01/2014

WASHINGTON — The list of countries bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq has thus far featured a host of classic United States partners — Canada, the U.K., France. Now, it looks like the U.S. has a new quasi-partner in the air: Iran.

The U.S. is aware of Iranian bombing activity in the same national airspace where planes aligned with the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State are operating, a defense official told The Huffington Post Monday evening.

The official said he believes the Iranian bombing is unlikely to end as long as the Shiite-dominated nation feels threatened by the Sunni extremist group, also called ISIS. The bombing will not require a U.S. response unless Iran presents an immediate threat to U.S. forces in the air, he said.

“We are aware of that. I wouldn’t say we’re necessarily concerned with it — we kind of have our eyes on it,” the official said. He noted that the Iranian bombing has been taking place near the Iranian border, in a different part of Iraq than most U.S. and coalition activity. The official said he could only confirm reports of the bombing on the condition of anonymity. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Happens When Islamic State’s Foreign Fighters Return?

By Cam Simpson
Bloomberg Businessweek
December 01, 2014

In 1982 an Egyptian engineer and Islamist named Muhammad abd-al-Salam Faraj wrote a religious pamphlet for his brothers. It was widely distributed that year after Faraj was convicted and executed for leading the plotters who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Faraj titled his pamphlet The Neglected Duty. That duty was to wage jihad.

Faraj debated whether the violent struggle should primarily be local or international. He believed jihadis have a duty to overthrow secular regimes in Arab and Muslim lands before striking against “non-believers” in other countries. In his pamphlet, Faraj framed his answer to the local vs. global debate this way: “To fight an enemy who is near is more important than to fight an enemy who is far.” The phrases “near enemy” and “far enemy” are still used by jihadi groups today as they debate what paths to take.

That issue amounts to far more than an ideological debate in the corridors of U.S. intelligence agencies and their counterparts in Europe. Record numbers of jihadis have been crossing international borders to volunteer with Islamic State and other groups in the fight against “near enemies” in Syria and Iraq. Security chiefs on both sides of the Atlantic, especially in Europe, say they are consumed daily with trying to track and stop them. Already, some have allegedly been involved in plotting or carrying out attacks against the “far enemy” in the West after returning home. Read the rest of this entry »

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Inside the Islamic State’s capital: Red Bull-drinking jihadists, hungry civilians, crucifixions and air strikes

Mark Townsend
The Observer
30 November 2014

Activists tell of the Isis elite living in relative luxury as civilians face poverty, hunger, inflation and power shortages

The beleaguered inhabitants of Raqqa, self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State (Isis), are suffering widespread hunger, crippling inflation, chronic power shortages and poverty so acute that emergency soup kitchens have been set up.

With no journalists, local or foreign, able to operate inside Syria’s sixth-largest city, courageous local activists have given the Observer a detailed account of life under the jihadists’ totalitarian regime, a rare glimpse of everyday life in the city.

Their testimony reveals the evolution of a community brutally divided into haves and have-nots, with Isis enjoying well-resourced services including “private” hospitals and a relatively high standard of living as many residents struggle to make ends meet.

Crucifixions of Isis opponents have taken place in Raqqa’s Paradise Square, as well as frequent beheadings and lashings for offences as minor as smoking a cigarette. Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi, founder of a network of activists called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, told the Observer: “Isis kills a lot of people, we see a lot of executions, a lot of beheadings. I have seen about five people crucified in the city. People are now calling Paradise Square Hell Square.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State relaxes vetting of foreign jihadists in a bid to boost recruits

By Ruth Sherlock
Beirut
Telegraph
24 Nov 2014

Exclusive: safe house operatives working for Isil tell the Telegraph they have dropped security restrictions in order to swell the ranks joining the caliphate

The Islamic State in the Levant has relaxed “vetting” procedures for foreign jihadists joining the group, and expanded military training camps in a drive to build its “Caliphate”, safe house operatives and defectors have told The Telegraph.

The group has apparently largely dropped security measures designed to ensure that foreign recruits are not undercover spies, in favour of boosting numbers.

“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi [Isil’s leader] has called for all Muslims to come to their land, so the process is much less stringent,” said Abu Ahmed, a Syrian living neighbouring in Turkey who runs a safe house and helps funnel jihadists into the country. “Almost any Muslim who wants to travel now can. They want everyone to come.”

Abu Ahmed who spoke to The Telegraph using a pseudonym, agreed to meet in a quiet café in Urfa, a small town on the Turkish border in Syria that is on the primary route for foreign fighters crossing into Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three unfinished business which Najib should present to Parliament before it adjourns next Thursday until next March

There are three unfinished business which the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak should present to Parliament before it adjourns next Thursday until March next year.

The first is the Report of the Royal Commission of Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS), which is meant to end once-and-for-all the 40-year problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah which had multiplied 15 to 19 times in four decades from 100,000 in the seventies to 1.5 million to 1.9 million at present.

If the Report of the RCIIIS, which was presented to the Federal Government on May 14, is not presented to Parliament next week for a full parliamentary debate, it could only mean one thing – that there is complete absence of political will to resolve the long-standing problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah and the establishment of the Royal Commission of Inquiry was just a Barisan Nasional electoral ruse for the 13th General Election in May 2013 to secure votes for BN from the people of Sabah, and for which it succeeded.

Furthermore, the establishment of the Joseph Pairin Kitingan Review Committee for the RCIIIS Report announced by Najib in Kota Kinabalu last week is just the latest “merry-go-round” sleight-of-hand to kick the problem of illegal immigrants of Sabah into a distant and indefinite future, while the problem snowballs to pass the two million mark for illegal immigrants in Sabah – reducing native Sabahans to a minority and foreigner status in their own land! Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Peter Kassig Was The Islamic State’s Greatest Threat

Hussein Rashid
Huffington Post
11/17/2014

With each bloody act, Islamic State militants demonstrate their need for self-importance overrides any moral, ethical, or religious boundary. Peter Kassig’s beheading is a microcosm of all the Islamic State wants, and religion is not high on that list.

Kassig converted to Islam and took the name Abdul-Rahman, servant of the Merciful. By many accounts, his conversion was genuine and the result of the love he felt for the people he met while providing aid in Syria. His former military service could have made him reluctant to return to a region in conflict. Instead, he chose to go back and help people, risking his life to do so.

In comparison, the Islamic State exacerbates a worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria. It works to prevent aid workers like Kassig from doing their job. A broken population that has no hope is the best recruiting environment it can hope for. If Syrians get aid from Americans, it would destroy the narrative that Islamic State militants are caring for Muslims.

The Islamic State specializes in media manipulation. It uses videos of its executions to gain a response from more powerful adversaries, thus giving it more legitimacy. The world “Islamic” ties the group to something grander than political machinations and 15th-century wars. Its video game-style recruitment material exhibits a mastery of the language of modernity.

Ultimately, the group is a product of modernity, not religion. Read the rest of this entry »

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ISIS uses beheadings, other violent acts to crush civilians, UN report says

by Zachary R. Dowdy
Newsday
November 14, 2014

UNITED NATIONS — Beheadings, stonings and mutilation are common weapons of terror employed by the Islamic State in its campaign to subdue civilian populations that have come under its control in Syria, according to a UN monitoring group.

“ISIS has perpetrated murder and other inhumane acts, enslavement, rape, sexual slavery and violence, forcible displacement, enforced disappearance and torture,” according to a 15-page report released Friday by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. “These acts have been committed as part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population in Aleppo, Ar-Raqqah, Al-Hasakah and Dayr Az-Zawr governorates.”

It documents the group’s violation of international humanitarian law and commission of both war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by the Geneva Convention.

The report is among the most extensive to document the savagery attributed to the Sunni Islamic group whose origins, the report said, stem from the evolution of an Al Qaida offshoot, Al Qaida in Iraq, which established itself in 2004 and rebranded itself as Islamic State in Iraq in 2006. Read the rest of this entry »

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GMM: Can democrat Islamists curb extremism?

Free Malaysia Today
November 14, 2014

Global Movement of Moderates hold roundtable discussion on the moderate approach of democracy versus war.

KUALA LUMPUR: Democrat Islamists can be a solution to curb extremism worldwide as they provide a moderate approach in today’s global world through the ballot box, said academicians and politicians.

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Dr Maszlee Malik said Democrat Islamists, made famous after the Arab Spring, allowed Muslims to control their fate through the ballot box rather than war or in the hands of leaders who were dictators, thus ending any grievances they might have had.

“The idea of democrat Islamists has existed for a long time. Radical groups emerge because they found there was no hope for Muslims to enjoy justice, human rights and good governance,” he said at a roundtable discussion on Democrat Islamists organised by the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) together with IIUM’s Fiqh Department.

Chairman of London-based Al-Hiwar TV channel Dr Azzam Tamimi, said that the success of the Arab Spring was a promising event that allowed for democracy in the Middle East and at the same time made the militant group Al Qaeda into an irrelevant movement.

“The success of the Arab Spring as we saw in Tunisia and Egypt was very promising, showing that this is the way forward. Some of the leaders of Al Qaeda were actually stressing fear that this model was succeeding, because it was proving them wrong,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Isis and al-Qa’ida ‘agree to end fighting and join against their opponents’

Kashmira Gander
Independent
13 November 2014

Al-Qa’ida has been fighting with Isis since the latter separated from it as an offshoot

Militant leaders from the Isis and al-Qa’ida terrorist groups have agreed to stop fighting each other in order to join against their opponents.

Isis, which calls itself the Islamic State (IS), and al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, have been engaged in bitter fighting for more than a year in an attempt to dominate the bloody rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The accord set between the extremists groups in northern Syria last week could spell problems for the US-led coalition in its fight against Isis, as it complements its air strikes by arming “moderate” rebel factions to fight on the ground.

Now, if the two terrorist groups fulfil their agreement and unite as one force, this would further weaken US-backed rebels – who are viewed as relatively disorganised.

The agreement follows signs that the two groups had cooled their feud with informal truces, the Associated Press reported. A high-level Syrian opposition and a rebel commander have since told the news agency that the accord would see them halt fighting and to open up against Kurdish fighters in a couple of new areas of northern Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State leader urges attacks in Saudi Arabia

Reuters/Daily Times Pakistan
November 14, 2014

BEIRUT: Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called for attacks against the rulers of Saudi Arabia in a speech purported to be in his name on Thursday, saying his self-declared caliphate was expanding there and in four other Arab countries.

Baghdadi also said a US.-led military campaign against his group in Syria and Iraq was failing and he called for “volcanoes of jihad” the world over.

Reuters could not independently confirm the authenticity of the speech – an audio recording carried on Islamic State-run social media. The voice sounded similar to a previous speech delivered by Baghdadi in July in a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in July, the last time he spoke in public.

It followed contradictory accounts out of Iraq after US. air strikes last Friday about whether he was wounded in a raid. The United States said on Tuesday it could not confirm whether he was killed or wounded in Iraq following a strike near the city of Falluja. Read the rest of this entry »

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Beat Isis on its turf, fight them online, experts tell Muslims

by Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
8 November 2014

The militant group known as Islamic State (Isis) successfully recruited hundreds of Muslims, including Malaysians, for its terror attacks by capitalising on social media and online propaganda, but experts believe that civil society can reclaim the Internet and beat the terrorist group at its own game.

“The challenge of the Isis propaganda is that it is appealing, sexy, counter-cultural, anti-establishment,” said Abdul-Rehman Malik, a London-based journalist, educator and organiser.

“The role of us in civil society is to be savvier about what Isis is, and to subvert their narrative through humour, through bold moves.”

He told The Malaysian Insider that this responsibility did not have to lie with the government alone, but any person who had access to the Internet could join the fight against Isis.

Rehman has spent nearly a decade leading a British non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Radical Middle Way, which utilises Internet forums to engage British youths to counter the jihadist message. Read the rest of this entry »

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Drown out the Isis siren song with a clarion call

– Jamil Maidan Flores
The Malaysian Insider
3 November 2014

In that wide swath of land that straddles the border between Iraq and Syria, some 31,000 jihadists are fighting under the black banner of the so-called Islamic State (Isis).

Some 15,000 of them are foreign fighters from 80 countries, mostly European. As of early this year, they included some 200 Malaysians, 100 Indonesians and dozens of Filipinos.

These are estimates, of course, but there’s little disagreement on their accuracy, give or take a few hundreds. Give or take a few scores, in the case of the Southeast Asian fighters.

Most of them are young, some with a bright future ahead of them. In spite of air strikes by the US-led coalition that kill hundreds of them in a single sortie, they increase in number every day. In the United Kingdom alone, as many as five young Muslims leave everyday to go to Syria and fight under the black banner. Read the rest of this entry »

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Street fighting rages in Syrian town as Islamic State moves in

By Daren Butler
Reuters
Oct 6, 2014

MURSITPINAR Turkey (Reuters) – Street fighting raged between Kurdish defenders and Islamic State militants who advanced into Kobani on Monday after subjecting the Syrian border town to an assault lasting almost three weeks, residents and fighters said.

Islamic State had earlier raised its black flag over a building in the outskirts and forced thousands more of Kobani’s mainly Kurdish inhabitants to flee for their lives across the nearby border into Turkey.

The head of the Kurdish forces defending the town said late on Monday that Islamic State forces were 300 meters inside Kobani’s eastern district and were shelling the remaining neighborhoods.

“We either die or win. No fighter is leaving,” Esmat al-Sheikh, leader of the Kobani Defense Authority, told Reuters. “The world is watching, just watching and leaving these monsters to kill everyone, even children…but we will fight to the end with what weapons we have.”

Islamic State wants to take Kobani to consolidate a dramatic sweep across northern Iraq and Syria, in the name of an absolutist version of Sunni Islam, that has sent shockwaves through the Middle East.

Strikes by American and Gulf state warplanes have failed to halt Islamic State’s advance on the town, which it has besieged from three sides and pounded with heavy artillery. Read the rest of this entry »

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