Archive for category Islamic state

Hit the Islamic State’s pocketbook

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
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

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
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
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

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

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
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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Sedition rampage continues but Zahid has not honoured his oath that police will commence investigations “within 24 hours” on any sedition report as 120 hours have passed but still no police investigations against Najib and Mahathir

Another university lecturer is the latest victim in the lengthening list of the sedition crackdown intensified by the Najib government in the fortnight before the 57th Merdeka Day celebrations – Dr. Abdul Aziz Bari of the Universiti Selangor, who will be investigated by the police tomorrow under the Sedition Act after almost 100 reports were lodged against him for allegedly insulting the Sultan of Selangor for his views on the Selangor Mentri Besar constitutional crisis.

The sedition rampage continues, as hardly a day passes in the past month without someone being investigated or charged for sedition as if Malaysians have suddenly become the most “seditious” and anti-nationhal people in the world.

However, the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi has not honoured his oath that police will commence investigations “within 24 hours” on any sedition report as 120 hours have passed but still no police investigations had been commenced against the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir.

The DAP MP for Segambut Lim Lip Eng lodged police reports 120 hours ago last Wednesday against Najib and Mahathir respectively for having committed the sedition offence, but police investigations on both of them had not commenced although Mahathir had given the police a blank cheque to arrest him if he had broken the law. Read the rest of this entry »

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ISIS+Al-Nusra Front? Islamists reportedly join forces, new threat against West issued

September 29, 2014

Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front has issued a new threatening audio message featuring its leader warning the West “will pay the heaviest price” for its actions. The Syrian group is reportedly now joining up with the estranged Islamic State militants.

The leader of Syria’s most prominent terrorist group, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, in denouncing the US-led air strike campaign, has urged Westerners everywhere to do the same “by standing against the decisions of your rulers,” otherwise bloodshed would be brought to their soil.

“Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price,” Reuters cited him as saying. He threatened viewers that the fight would be brought “to the hearts of your homes.”

The US-led coalition has been involved in airstrikes against what until lately it thought was the most dangerous group in the Middle East – the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Read the rest of this entry »

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The bloodlust behind the Islamic State’s beheading of Steven Sotloff

By Terrence McCoy
Washington Post
September 3 2014

It began with a knife, an orange tunic and a name. “I am Steven Joel Sotloff,” the bedraggled journalist said. “I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now. And why I’m appearing before you.” Sotloff paused for a long moment, kneeling on the desert floor, and looked directly into the Islamic State’s camera. He neither wept nor begged. There was only resignation. “And now,” he said, “it is time for my message.”

After it was done and Sotloff was dead, the knife-wielding man who has come to be known as “Jihadi John” grabbed another Western hostage. Promising to “strike the necks” of more Americans if the United States continues airstrikes against the Islamic State, he warned, “We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of American against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.”

The beheading of Sotloff, two weeks after journalist James Foley’s decapitation, is an Islamic State calling card. In the last week alone, militants decapitated a Kurdish man and then days later beheaded a Lebanese soldier in an additional video. The decapitations are brutal and terrifying. But are they politically motivated? Or do they instead betray an unhinged brand of violence that is ultimately self-defeating? Read the rest of this entry »

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Can Saudi Arabia help combat the Islamic State?

David Ignatius
Washington Post
August 28 2014

With Iraq and Syria ablaze, the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia seems almost an afterthought. But Riyadh will be a crucial, if quixotic, ally as the United States seeks to mobilize Sunni Muslims against the terrorist Islamic State.

The kingdom’s many critics argue that Saudi Arabia itself helped spread the toxic virus by bankrolling Islamist rebels and their extremist Salafist Muslim ideology. As if to insulate itself from such criticism, the kingdom recently donated $100 million to a new U.N. counterterrorism center, and its senior religious leader, the grand mufti, declared the Islamic State and its al-Qaeda forebear “enemy No. 1 of Islam.”

Complicating Saudi Arabia’s pivotal role in containing regional instability is the fact that generational change is slowly coming in the kingdom. The stakes for the United States in this leadership transition are large, and the outcome is hard to predict.

King Abdullah remains in power, a generally popular and respected monarch. But at 90, his energy and attention span are limited. Tensions have surfaced at several Saudi ministries over the last year, suggesting a jockeying for power. Read the rest of this entry »

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Terrorism experts see long, tough battle to contain Islamic State

By Carol J. Williams
Los Angeles Times
Aug 28, 2014

Unilateral airstrikes against Islamic State targets not enough to contain the extremists, experts say
Islamic State radicals seen building momentum with atrocities, territorial conquests
‘Counter-messaging’ needed to break Islamic State’s appeal to disaffected young Muslims, terrorism experts say

While the world has recoiled in horror at the atrocities committed by Islamic State radicals, the violence has helped the militant group recruit a global force of extremists and furthered its pursuit of a fundamentalist Muslim caliphate in the heart of the Middle East, terrorism experts say.

The United States and its Western allies have responded with airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq and relief operations for the victims of the Al Qaeda splinter group’s campaign of violence.

But the air attacks on Islamic State fighters in Iraq and contemplation of similar action in war-torn Syria will do little more than temporarily curb the militants’ momentum as the international community struggles to find a long-term solution to their destabilizing threat, analysts say.

“There is no short-term fix that will completely defeat this threat, so it’s important to differentiate between stopping ISIS’ momentum and ending or defeating them as an organization,” said Janine Davidson, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. She was referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as the group called itself before proclaiming its caliphate two months ago. Read the rest of this entry »

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You Can’t Understand ISIS If You Don’t Know the History of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia

Alastair Crooke
Huffington Post


BEIRUT — The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed — and horrified — by its violence and its evident magnetism for Sunni youth. But more than this, they find Saudi Arabia’s ambivalence in the face of this manifestation both troubling and inexplicable, wondering, “Don’t the Saudis understand that ISIS threatens them, too?”

It appears — even now — that Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite is divided. Some applaud that ISIS is fighting Iranian Shiite “fire” with Sunni “fire”; that a new Sunni state is taking shape at the very heart of what they regard as a historical Sunni patrimony; and they are drawn by Da’ish’s strict Salafist ideology.

Other Saudis are more fearful, and recall the history of the revolt against Abd-al Aziz by the Wahhabist Ikhwan (Disclaimer: this Ikhwan has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan — please note, all further references hereafter are to the Wahhabist Ikhwan, and not to the Muslim Brotherhood Ikhwan), but which nearly imploded Wahhabism and the al-Saud in the late 1920s.

Many Saudis are deeply disturbed by the radical doctrines of Da’ish (ISIS) — and are beginning to question some aspects of Saudi Arabia’s direction and discourse. Read the rest of this entry »

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Have The Islamist Militants Overreached In Iraq And Syria?

by Deborah Amos
July 05, 2014

The Islamist radicals who have declared an Islamic caliphate on land they control straddling Iraq and Syria are waging an audacious publicity stunt, according to some analysts.

While it may bring them even greater attention, it’s also likely to be an overreach that will open riffs with its current partners, the Sunni Muslims in Iraq who welcomed the militant group in early June. They all share the goal of overthrowing Iraq’s Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his sectarian rule, but the more secular parts of the Sunni coalition didn’t sign up for an Islamic state.

“By announcing the caliphate, they are picking a fight with everybody,” says David Kilcullen, a guerrilla warfare expert and former chief counter-terrorism strategist for the U.S. State Department.

The militants were known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. But in announcing a caliphate, which is a single, unified Islamic state, they are now simply calling themselves the Islamic State. Read the rest of this entry »

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