Archive for category Islamic state

ISIS Women and Enforcers in Syria Recount Collaboration, Anguish and Escape

New York Times
Nov 21, 2015

SOUTHERN TURKEY — Dua had only been working for two months with the Khansaa Brigade, the all-female morality police of the Islamic State, when her friends were brought to the station to be whipped.

The police had hauled in two women she had known since childhood, a mother and her teenage daughter, both distraught. Their abayas, flowing black robes, had been deemed too form-fitting.

When the mother saw Dua, she rushed over and begged her to intercede. The room felt stuffy as Dua weighed what to do.

“Their abayas really were very tight. I told her it was their own fault; they had come out wearing the wrong thing,” she said. “They were unhappy with that.”

Dua sat back down and watched as the other officers took the women into a back room to be whipped. When they removed their face-concealing niqabs, her friends were also found to be wearing makeup. It was 20 lashes for the abaya offense, five for the makeup, and another five for not being meek enough when detained.

The three Syrian women interviewed for this article, all former members of the Islamic State morality police who escaped to Turkey this year, met with a reporter in a southern Turkish city for hours of interviews, together and separately, over the course of two multiday visits. Read the rest of this entry »

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France’s anti-Isis coalition: where the key countries stand

Simon Tisdall
Monday 23 November 2015

France is pulling out all the stops as François Hollande scrambles to fulfil his ambitious pledge to build a global military coalition to defeat Islamic State following the Paris attacks.

The French president has won public approval and international backing for his handling of the crisis so far. His poll ratings are up by eight points to 33%. Foreign leaders have lined up to express solidarity.

In a flurry of hastily arranged mini-summits this week, Hollande will seek to turn expressions of support into concerted, sharp-end action before the rare moment of unity passes.

His prospects for success are mixed. The leaders of the US, Russia, Germany and Britain – whom Hollande will meet separately over four days – agree unreservedly about the necessity of eradicating Isis. All want a peace deal to end the Syrian civil war. But there is less agreement on how to do this. Read the rest of this entry »

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Paris Attacks Suspect Killed in Shootout Had Plotted Terror for 11 Months

New York Times
NOV. 19, 2015

VERVIERS, Belgium — Black smudges and faded traces of gunfire on a red brick rowhouse here in eastern Belgium mark the death foretold of Abdelhamid Abaaoud. It is the spot where, 11 months before the announcement on Thursday that he had been killed outside Paris, he began plotting an elaborate campaign of terror across Europe.

Mr. Abaaoud’s inaugural terror mission here ended in disaster for his cause and cost the lives of two of his jihadist friends — both from his old Brussels neighborhood, Molenbeek — when Belgian security forces stormed their hide-out on Jan. 15.

But Mr. Abaaoud was not there. A telephone call he made shortly before the raid in Verviers to pass on instructions to those in the hide-out, a senior Belgian counterterrorism official said, was the last trace anybody had of him until the French police found on Wednesday what turned out to be his mutilated body after an early-morning shootout just north of Paris. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Latest: Belt Found Where Fugitive’s Phone Was Located

New York Times/Associated Press
NOV. 23, 2015, 2:46 P.M. E.S.T.

PARIS — The latest on the deadly attacks in Paris and the heightened security in Europe (All times local):

8:40 p.m.

French police say that an explosive belt without a detonator that was found in Paris was in the same place that fugitive Saleh Abdeslam’s cell phone was localized on the day of the attacks that killed 130 people.

The belt was found Monday by a street cleaner in a pile of rubble in the southern suburb of Montrouge.

The three police officials who gave information about the belt could not be named because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

— By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny and Lori Hinnant. Read the rest of this entry »

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ASEAN summit tarnished by Malaysian corruption scandal involving PM

Thomas Maresca
Special for USA TODAY
November 22, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — As the summit of Southeast Asian nations ended here Sunday, much of the focus was not on the leaders’ discussions with President Obama but on a corruption scandal dogging the summit’s host and his government’s crackdown on civil liberties.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who told Obama that he is “committed to reforms,” stands accused of shifting nearly $700 million from a government-owned development fund into private bank accounts.

The fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), is under investigation in Malaysia, the United States, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Switzerland. Opposition leaders in parliament filed a formal no-confidence vote against him in October. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hotel Attack in Mali Is a Setback in Fight Against Extremism

New York Times
NOV. 21, 2015

BAMAKO, Mali — The terrorists chose carefully: There are nearly always French, Russian and even a few American visitors to be found in the hotel restaurant, around the pool, in the health club or on the thin black-leather sofas of the glass-fronted lobby, now shattered by gunfire.

With its marble floors, open atrium and lipstick-red lounge, the Radisson Blu Hotel served as a lifeline to the world, a gathering place where diplomats, contractors and others doing business in Mali, one of the poorest countries on earth, could all be found.

Now, bullet holes pockmark the walls and blood is pooled on stairs. The hotel, once a symbol of the international presence in a country trying to emerge from years of upheaval, is the site of a massacre in which terrorists killed 19 people, storming in at breakfast on Friday as terrified diners sprinted into an elevator whose doors did not close in time to save them. Read the rest of this entry »

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Saudi Arabia, an ISIS That Has Made It

by Kamel Daoud
New York Times
NOV. 20, 2015

Black Daesh, white Daesh.

The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims.

The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things.

The Islamic State; Saudi Arabia.

In its struggle against terrorism, the West wages war on one, but shakes hands with the other.

This is a mechanism of denial, and denial has a price: preserving the famous strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia at the risk of forgetting that the kingdom also relies on an alliance with a religious clergy that produces, legitimizes, spreads, preaches and defends Wahhabism, the ultra-puritanical form of Islam that Daesh feeds on. Read the rest of this entry »

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18 Would-Be Suicide Bombers Are at Large in Malaysia, Police Believe

Nov. 20, 2015

A leaked memo sounds warning on the eve of a major summit to be attended by President Obama

Ten prospective suicide bombers are at large in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital and largest city, according to a leaked police memo cited by the Guardian. Another eight thought are in the western part of the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brussels is put on high alert as officials warn of ‘imminent threat’

By Anthony Faiola, William Booth and Emily Badger
Washington Post
November 21 2015

PARIS — The government abruptly shut down the metro system in Brussels, canceled sporting events and warned shoppers to stay away from malls as Belgium placed the capital on maximum alert early Saturday, citing a “serious and imminent” threat of attack.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Saturday morning that officials had identified shopping centers, public transportation and major events as targets of a possible attack, involving multiple assailants, similar to the deadly assault that struck Paris last Friday.

In Brussels, armed troops stood guard in front of hotels and at major intersections. There was a scattering of shop closures. At least four of the Islamic State militants who attacked Paris came from the same immigrant neighborhood of Molenbeek in the Belgium capital.

Police continue to hunt for one of the Parisian attackers, Salah Abdeslam, a 26-year-old French national who lived in Brussels and may have returned after the attacks.

The new threat alert in Brussels comes after European countries agreed Friday to new steps aimed at securing Europe’s frontiers, as further evidence emerged that extremists in the terrorist attacks in Paris were using the region’s porous borders to slip between the continent and the battlefields of the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »

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Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the Paris Attackers

Tessa Berenson
19th November 2015

Of the nine people believed to have been involved in Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, eight are now dead. Here is what you need to know about all of the suspects, including the one still at large, Salah Abdeslam.

Still at large

Abdeslam, 26, is the brother of one of the suicide bombers in the Paris attacks. He was last spotted Saturday, when police stopped him at the French-Belgian border but then let him go after questioning, the Associated Press reports.

According to the New York Times, Abdeslam is French and has been living in Belgium. He is believed to have visited Syria and committed previous crimes. Abdeslam’s other brother, who is not believed to have been involved in the attack, has urged him to turn himself in. “We’re family, we’re thinking of him, we’re wondering where he is, whether he’s scared, is he eating,” Mohamed Abdeslam told French television station BFMTV. “The best outcome would be for him to turn himself in so that judicial processes can shed light on this story.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Woman believed to be Abdel-Hamid Abu Oud’s cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen and as yet unidentified man dead after raid on St-Denis apartment

Ben Doherty
19 November 2015

French forensic teams are investigating whether the body of a man found dead after a massive firefight with police in a St-Denis apartment is that of the alleged mastermind of last week’s Paris terror attacks, Abdel-Hamid Abu Oud.

At least two people died in the assault targeting Abu Oud but neither the 27-year-old Belgian extremist nor another fugitive sought in connection with Friday’s shootings and suicide bombings, Salah Abdeslam, were among the eight people arrested.

One of the dead was a woman, believed to be Abu Oud’s cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, who blew herself up with an explosive vest, and the second an as yet unidentified man killed by police sniper fire or a grenade whose body was recovered in rubble from the flat in a rundown house in the rue du Corbillon.

Media reports quoting sources have suggested Abu Oud was killed in the assault but French officials have so far said in public statements that they do not know. Identification was proving difficult because the bodies had to be pieced together, Paris prosecutor François Molins said, and may take “longer than expected”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Laying the foundation for fanaticism

– Sheela R.
The Malaysian Insider
16 November 2015

Imagine yourself to be seven years old. A tender age where your foremost consideration would be if you get to play your favourite game with your friends, watch a television programme or simply decide on which ice-cream flavour to indulge in.

Now imagine yourself at that age in a class, where a teacher talks of hell and heaven and the myriad punishments awaiting sinners and unbelievers.

The stuff of nightmares is introduced progressively to you, in the guise of imparting religious values. These visions terrify you, but you don’t have the maturity or intellect to challenge the teacher. Read the rest of this entry »

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A call to sanity

— Dan Ling
Malay Mail Online
November 17, 2015

NOVEMBER 17 — We live in a world of manufactured outrage. From one incident to the next, media does its best; knowingly and unknowingly, to polarise opinion and encourage consumers to adopt a certain stance. From incident to incident, we see this happening with alarming frequency.

It does so by inciting our more base emotions, poking and prodding them. It does so by being selective about what it decides to highlight, covering certain news with front page headlines, while relegating other news to the back pages with nary a few lines of detail. It sets up the perfect breeding ground for the more easily influenced among us to grow a black-and-white, us versus them mentality. And it is dangerous.

You’d have to have been living under a significantly large rock to not have heard about the recent attacks in Paris that claimed over a hundred and thirty lives. But have you been hearing about all the drone attacks over a large portion of Middle Eastern territory? According to official reports, 41 men were specifically targeted due to their involvement in terror cells, yet 1,147 innocent lives were taken as a result of these “precise” drone strikes that were apparently aided by “reliable intelligence.” Did you hear about the Beirut attack that occurred the day before the Paris attacks? Probably not until afterwards, when people started to draw the stark comparisons between how the two were treated by world media. Read the rest of this entry »

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After Paris Attacks, a Darker Mood Toward Islam Emerges in France

New York Times
NOV. 16, 2015

PARIS — November is not January. That thought has been filtering through the statements of most French politicians and the news media, and most people seem to understand.

Unlike the response in January after attacks at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and elsewhere left 17 dead, there were no grand public appeals for solidarity with Muslims after the Friday attacks that left 129 dead in Paris. There were no marches, few pleas not to confuse practitioners of Islam with those who preach jihad.

Instead, there was a palpable fear, even anger, as President François Hollande asked Parliament to extend a state of emergency and called for changing the Constitution to deal with terrorism. It was largely unspoken but nevertheless clear: Secular France always had a complicated relationship with its Muslim community, but now it was tipping toward outright distrust, even hostility. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why did Malaysian Parliament miss the historic opportunity to be the first Parliament in the world to condemn the massacre and carnage in Paris by IS suicide bombers and to call on world Parliaments to speak with one voice against such atrocities?

I am very disappointed that the Malaysian Parliament missed the historic opportunity to be the first Parliament in the world to condemn the senseless massacre and carnage in Paris by Islamic State (IS) suicide bombers and to call on world Parliaments to speak with one voice against such atrocities which have left at least 129 dead and over 350 injured.

On Sunday, I had suggested that the Malaysian Parliament should, in an emergency motion the next day (Monday, 16th November) set a world example and speak in one voice the next day on behalf of 30 million Malaysians to condemn the senseless massacre in Paris on Friday night, as well as to urge Parliaments and legislatures all over the world to similarly condemn such dastardly and uncivilized savagery as crimes against humanity which cannot be mitigated by any ground or reason.

But there was no such emergency government motion in Parliament yesterday, and the Paris massacre and carnage were furthest from the minds of government Ministers and MPs who were only obsessed with getting the 2016 Budget adopted in its second reading without any mishap in the voting stage. Read the rest of this entry »

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I was held hostage by Isis. They fear our unity more than our airstrikes

Nicolas Hénin
16 November 2015

In Syria I learned that Islamic State longs to provoke retaliation. We should not fall into the trap

As a proud Frenchman I am as distressed as anyone about the events in Paris. But I am not shocked or incredulous. I know Islamic State. I spent 10 months as an Isis hostage, and I know for sure that our pain, our grief, our hopes, our lives do not touch them. Theirs is a world apart.

Most people only know them from their propaganda material, but I have seen behind that. In my time as their captive, I met perhaps a dozen of them, including Mohammed Emwazi: Jihadi John was one of my jailers. He nicknamed me “Baldy”.

Even now I sometimes chat with them on social media, and can tell you that much of what you think of them results from their brand of marketing and public relations. They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. In France we have a saying – stupid and evil. I found them more stupid than evil. That is not to understate the murderous potential of stupidity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Do Paris terror attacks highlight a clash of civilisations?

Gideon Rachman
Financial Times
November 16, 2015

Multiculturalism is not a naive liberal aspiration — it is the reality of the modern world

Ever since the late Samuel Huntington predicted that international politics would be dominated by a “clash of civilisations”, his theory, first outlined in 1993, has found some of its keenest adherents among militant Islamists. The terrorists who inflicted mass murder on Paris are part of a movement that sees Islam and the west as locked in inevitable mortal combat.

Leading western politicians, by contrast, have almost always rejected Huntington’s analysis. Even former US President George W Bush said: “There is no clash of civilisations.” And everyday life in multicultural western nations, most of which have large Muslim minorities, offers a daily refutation of the idea that different faiths and cultures cannot live and work together.

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, that core idea needs to be reaffirmed. And yet a necessary restatement of liberal values should not prevent a sober acknowledgment of some malign global trends. The fact is that hardline Islamism is on the rise — even in some countries, such as Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh, previously regarded as models of moderate Muslim societies. At the same time, the expression of anti-Muslim prejudice is entering the political mainstream in the US, Europe and India.

Taken together, these developments are narrowing the space for those who want to push back against the narrative of a “clash of civilisations”. Read the rest of this entry »

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What to call Islamic State

Nov 15th 2015

The Economist explains

HOURS AFTER France and America pledged to ramp up the war against Islamic State (IS) in response to attacks in Paris that killed 129 and wounded more than 350, French warplanes began pounding the group’s stronghold in Raqqa, in north-eastern Syria.

The operation was conducted in co-ordination with American forces. The French and Americans seemed to be unified over the name they are using for this terrorist scourge, too.

Announcing strikes, the French defence ministry referred to a target “used by Daesh as a command post”.

Barack Obama used the same term when he spoke, at a G20 leaders’ summit in Turkey, of redoubling efforts “to bring about a peaceful transition in Syria and to eliminate Daesh as a force that can create so much pain and suffering for people in Paris, in Ankara, and in other parts of the globe.”

John Kerry, the American secretary of state, also called IS Daesh during a meeting in Vienna. The group has variously been dubbed ISIS, ISIL, IS and SIC too. Why the alphabet soup? Read the rest of this entry »

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Raqqa activists reveal details of French airstrikes on Syria

Kareem Shaheen in Beirut
Monday 16 November 2015

French warplanes have launched 30 airstrikes on more than a dozen Islamic State targets in Raqqa, activists in the Syrian city have said.

The raids were France’s first retaliation to Friday’s coordinated attacks in Paris claimed by Isis, in which at least 129 people were killed.

Residents said the targets bombed in the de facto capital of the militants’ self-proclaimed caliphate included the local Isis political office, the southern entrance to the city and a military camp.

“The French airstrikes were precise and targeted Daesh positions,” said one activist, using an Arabic acronym for Isis. “They hit Isis headquarters and camps that have ammunition warehouses as well as vehicles and [Isis] members.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Abdelhamid Abaaoud named as alleged mastermind of Paris terror attacks

Jon Henley in Paris
16 November 2015

French intelligence officials have named the alleged mastermind of a deadly string of suicide bombings and shootings in Paris as the Belgian extremist Abdelhamid Abaaoud, after French police made more than 20 arrests and seized arms and ammunition in a series of anti-terror raids across the country.

A major raid was also underway in Brussels aimed at arresting Salah Abdeslam, one of the three French brothers living in Belgium alleged to have been involved in the attacks.

As details emerged of an elaborate international terror operation run from Syria and carried out by a sleeper cell based in Belgium, officials told French media Abaaoud, seen as one of Islamic State’s most active operatives, was “investigators’ best bet” as the main organiser of the attacks, which killed at least 129 people on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

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