Archive for category Islamic state

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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Hit the Islamic State’s pocketbook

Opinion
By PATRICK B. JOHNSTON. AND BENJAMIN BAHNEY
Newsday
October 5, 2014

The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is taking aim at the terrorist organization’s pocketbook. The coalition has launched airstrikes on mobile oil refineries in eastern Syria that the Pentagon believes generate up to 500 barrels of petroleum each day for the group.

The Islamic State has emerged as the world’s richest terrorist group, with estimated assets of $1 billion to $2 billion. Its sophisticated and strategically driven financial scheme is a key reason that U.S. officials say this fight could last years.

An examination of newly declassified financial documents the group created dating to 2005 reveals an organized criminal operation that is funded through rackets like protection, extortion and the co-opting of the region’s oil industry. This makes the group a self-sustaining operation, largely free of reliance on the largesse of wealthy foreign patrons. While airstrikes may disrupt the flow of oil and profits, they will not lead to the group’s financial ruin anytime soon. Based on our research, we estimate the Islamic State will bring in $100 million to $200 million this year. And that’s being conservative. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State withstands bombing campaign, plots Baghdad invasion

By Rowan Scarborough
The Washington Times
October 5, 2014

The Islamic State holds just about the same number of towns in Iraq today as it did two months ago, when the U.S. began a bombing campaign to whittle down the terrorist army and support Iraqi ground troops trying to retake territory.

More troubling, analysts say, is that the Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL, is ramping up what appear to be operations designed to one day invade Baghdad.

Its objective is to take the international airport and begin conquering the capital, section by section. The Islamic State is continuing its urban attacks with car bombs, some of which have been detonated by foreign suicide bombers.

The Pentagon is not openly confident that the Iraqi Security Forces will hold Baghdad. A spokesman has declined to predict that the sprawling city will stay in government control. Read the rest of this entry »

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In hunt for Malaysians joining Islamic State, a faceless menace

by Yiswaree Palansamy

Malay Mail Online
October 6, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — It could be anyone. The next Malaysian leaving to join the Islamic State (IS) jihad in Syria could be the besuited man reading from his tablet computer sitting to your right on the train to work.

Or it might be the typical college-goer, clad in jeans and a T-shirt, seated your left and scrolling through his smartphone.

This is how obscure the profiles of young Muslims aspiring to join jihadist militant movement that police investigators are discovering in their bid to stem the tide.

According to Bukit Aman’s counter-terrorism division senior official Datuk Ayub Khan, gone are days when those involved were the stereotypical bearded men wearing serbans and carrying prayer beads.

“They come from various backgrounds now. Not a specific group like in the case of now defunct terrorist group, Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM), or Malaysian Mujahideen Movement, where religious schools were used to recruit for jihadists cause.

“It is all encompassing- from those in the private sector, your local grocery shop owners and even businessmen,” Ayub told Malay Mail Online. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sentiment divided at haj pilgrimage over role of Islamist militants

By Amena Bakr
Reuters
October 3, 2014

ARAFAT Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Former Egyptian army officer Suliman Ouda minced no words as he climbed Mount Arafat, denouncing Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq as terrorists.

But Syrian engineer Ahmed Orabi, standing nearby on the hill where Muslims on their haj pilgrimage beg God’s forgiveness, disagreed.

“Islam is about peace and kindness, not murder and violence, and I don’t consider these fighters in Iraq and Syria to be Muslims,” Ouda told Reuters as he joined the mass of pilgrims early on Friday. “They bring shame to the word Islam.”

Orabi, in his 40s, served time in Syrian prisons for criticising the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before fleeing to Turkey. One of his sons was still in jail.

“If the Islamic state, or Nusra, or any other group can fight the government, I’m in full support of them,” he said in a hushed voice.

“Bashar is the terrorist here, Iran is the enemy. And although I can’t raise my voice today and say that, I’m crying out to God in my heart to give victory to those brave Islamic fighters.”

The haj, a hectic journey that brings millions from around the world to Mecca and Mount Arafat, is tinged this year with concerns over the threat posed by Islamist militants who threaten to target allies of the United States, including Saudi Arabia. Read the rest of this entry »

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At haj, Saudi Arabia clerics step up anti-Islamic State drive

By Amena Bakr

Reuters
MINA Saudi Arabia
Oct 4, 2014

(Reuters) – Taking aim at Islamic State, Saudi Arabia has mounted a battle for hearts and minds at this year’s haj, warning pilgrims that the hardline group is “evil” and seeking to recruit their children to fight in Iraq and Syria.

As millions of pilgrims visited the holiest sites in Islam on the second day of the annual pilgrimage on Saturday, global leaders condemned the fourth beheading of a Westerner by Islamic State insurgents.

Saudi Arabia declared Islamic State a terrorist organization in March and sharply stepped up denunciations of the group after its fighters made rapid territorial gains in Iraq in June. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State influence spreads beyond Iraq and Syria

Naila Inayat and Kaci Racelma
USA TODAY
October 2, 2014

LAHORE, Pakistan — In Pakistan, some are slapping pro-Islamic State bumper stickers on their cars and writing chalk graffiti on walls exhorting young people to join the terrorist group.

In China, the government fears that Muslim Uighurs — a restive ethnic minority in the country’s far west — have sought terrorist training from the Islamic State to establish a breakaway country.

In eastern Mali, an Islamic State-affiliated group called “Soldiers of the Caliphate in the Land of Algeria” has taken over much of Gao province, inflicting severe punishments for breaches of the Quran, like drinking alcohol. Those militants beheaded a French tourist in Algeria last month after France refused to halt its participation in U.S.-led airstrikes against the group in Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »

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ISIS– Largest, Richest $2Billion Terror-Based Enterprise: Financial Sophistication Rivaling Wall Street

Joe DePaola
BizShifts-Trends
September 28, 2014

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ) is the world’s largest, richest terrorist organizations, ever. It’s a self-sustaining enterprise that runs mainly on extortion and crime networks, hostages, oil, donations… According to Martin Chulov; ISIS has grown from a ragtag band of extremists to perhaps the most cash-rich and capable terror group in the world with a $2 billion jihadist network. The scale of ISIS resources is unprecedented: A terrorist organization while ruthless, but still able to occupy large areas of territory, quickly… for example; it controls several major cities in Iraq, which it occupied in just three days, it holds parts of several other cities and continues to menace still other cities throughout Iraq and Syria: It’s quite an accomplishment… According to Michael Knights; some estimates of ISIS’s wealth are overstated, for example; the $2 billion estimate that’s been floating around is too high, but that’s not to say ISIS isn’t raking in a fair amount of cash– between $2 million and $4 million per day… ISIS is a wealthy terrorist movement or better yet an effective financial enterprise, which it run very much like a large-scale Mafia type protection rackets business across much of Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Islamic State: Delivering Islam’s Reformation?

Cheryl Benard
The National Interest
October 3, 2014

“When the dust finally settles, we may find that IS has given the world a lasting, if expensive, gift: the long-overdue Islamic Reformation.”

Of all the reactions to the so-called Islamic State (IS) and its grisly, intentionally provocative brutalities, perhaps the most interesting one is surely unintended: it is inspiring critical and substantive debate about the nature of Islam, on the part of Muslims, a debate with the potential to bring about the modernization and reformation of that religion.

In decades past, it has been taboo even to hint at any possible anachronisms or problems in the Quran. And: “Islam is a religion of peace” was the universal obligatory mantra after 9/11. Only a daring few voices expressed the occasional doubt, to be instantly branded as Islamophobes.

And this politically correct version might have been true. Some of the theological observations made in this context had validity: it is true that almost all religions contain seeds of extremism and have engendered violent fringe movements. Certainly, the Quran also contains passages about justice, tolerance and communal peace. It is true as well that the Bible’s Old Testament contains multiple injunctions and sanctioned behaviors that shock us today—from infanticide to polygamy to rape. Judaism and Christianity have adapted their religions to changing mores by tacitly ignoring those passages that no longer fit the times, and by accepting that some aspects of religious doctrine are historic, rather than ethical or theological.

But the sentence about Islam being a religion of peace was never a theological statement. It always had an ulterior motive: the desire to be polite, to be politically correct, and to wish into being a desired reality. Read the rest of this entry »

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The war against Islamic State – Unintended consequences

Oct 4th 2014 | REYHANLI and URFA
Economist

Are American-led air strikes creating a Sunni backlash?

WHEN America extended the war against the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) to Syria on September 22nd, it seemed to have a strategy: maximise Sunni support to isolate and ultimately defeat the extremists. America would not co-operate with the regime of Bashar Assad. Instead it would build up moderate rebels to the point where, with American help, they could take on both IS and, eventually, Mr Assad’s forces. Five Sunni Arab states joined the air campaign in Syria, where Western friends declined to go. Across the border in Iraq, a new prime minister was installed with the promise to work harder to win over disgruntled Sunnis

The first fortnight of operations has proven messy, however. Though IS has been pushed back in some areas, it is still making advances in others. It has crept towards Baghdad, causing jitters in the city, and this week was close to winning the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Ain al-Arab (known to Kurds as Kobane) on the Turkish border. More worrying for America, hardly anyone in Syria is cheering. Some complain that, instead of bombing Mr Assad, America is attacking his enemies; others claim that it is hitting civilians rather than IS; still others spread the idea that the whole business is a war against Islam. Almost all the rebels—including groups such as Harakat Hazm that receive anti-tank weapons from America and its allies—have criticised America. This raises a troubling question: is America causing a backlash among the very people it needs to win over? Read the rest of this entry »

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In New Front Against Islamic State, Dictionary Becomes a Weapon

By DAN BILEFSKYOCT
New York Times
October 2, 2014

PARIS — After the French mountaineering guide Hervé Gourdel was beheaded by an Algerian jihadist group aligned with the Islamic State last month, hundreds of Muslims gathered outside the Great Mosque of Paris to express their revulsion over the brutality of a group whose name and ideology, they said, was an insult to Muslims everywhere.

Some carried placards with the hashtag #NotInMyName, which has become a rallying cry on Twitter against the Islamic State.

Ahmet Ogras, vice president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, which called for the protest on Sept. 26, said that the now-common use of the name Islamic State threatened to stigmatize France’s Muslims, Europe’s largest Muslim community. He also said that the name conferred unwarranted legitimacy on a group carrying out killings in the name of Islam.

“This is not a state; this is a terrorist organization,” he added. “I call them terrorists because that’s what they are. One has to call a dog a dog. One can’t play with words.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Can moderates take on the Islamic State and win?

by Melissa Chi
Malay Mail Online
October 3, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 — The Islamic State (IS) has been luring hundreds of the followers of the religion of peace to join its cause in the Middle East, including Malaysians, by romanticising jihad, but a panel of moderate Muslims here believe the militant movement can be beaten.

Speaking at a youth townhall session themed ‘Extremists & Terrorism: How Should Moderates Respond?’ at Publika Solaris Dutamas last night, a three-man panel representing three local Muslim groups suggested the first step to counter the IS and other like-minded jihadists would be to make moderation “sexy” again.

“There is something narrative on the other side. It’s really powerful and it can be very attractive and you really have to counter that narrative,” said Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMM).

The IS and other similar extremist Muslim groups have been holding up their fight to forcefully create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq as a chance for Muslims worldwide to gain glory for Islam and themselves, even at the cost of their lives in which they will be rewarded with martyrdom in the hereafter.

“Most of us are silent. We don’t actually talk about this. I think we need to shape discourse to reclaim the centre stage,” Saifuddin said.

He added that there should be attempts to make “moderation look sexy” by trying to make it like the norm rather than the exception when it comes to public discourse. Read the rest of this entry »

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Islamic State committing ‘staggering’ crimes in Iraq: U.N. report

By Stephanie Nebehay
Reuters
Oct 2, 2014

GENEVA (Reuters) – Islamic State insurgents in Iraq have carried out mass executions, abducted women and girls as sex slaves, and used child soldiers in what may amount to systematic war crimes that demand prosecution, the United Nations said on Thursday.

In a report based on 500 interviews with witnesses, also said Iraqi government air strikes on the Sunni Muslim militants had caused “significant civilian deaths” by hitting villages, a school and hospitals in violation of international law.

At least 9,347 civilians had been killed and 17,386 wounded so far this year through September, well over half of them since the Islamist insurgents also known as ISIL and ISIS began seizing large parts of northern Iraq in early June, the report said.

“The array of violations and abuses perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups is staggering, and many of their acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Indonesia banned ISIS

— Dominic Berger
The Malay Mail Online
October 1, 2014

OCTOBER 1 — Like in all democracies, the proscription of terrorist groups in Indonesia is a politically delicate and legally ambiguous process.

It requires the government to articulate convincing justifications for a ban, as well as provide adequate legal mechanisms for its implementation.

An examination of both suggests that when Indonesia banned ISIS in August 2014, it did so for much more complex reasons than fear of violent terrorism.

When ISIS captured large swathes of territory in Syria and northern Iraq and images of shocking violence made news around the world, the Indonesian public, and the government, remained largely pre-occupied with its most fiercely contested presidential election campaign in a decade. Despite signs throughout the first half of 2014 that Indonesia would eventually be forced to address the ISIS threat, the government and the public remained relatively uninterested. Back in March, even a public demonstration by ISIS supporters at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in central Jakarta drew neither the media’s nor the government’s attention. It took the appearance of a video on YouTube, titled Join the Ranks, in which an Indonesian ISIS fighter in Syria urged fellow Indonesians to join ISIS, to sharply focus the government’s attention on the growing ISIS-threat to Indonesia. Read the rest of this entry »

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