Archive for September, 2017

Militant blast, gun attack kill 18 police in Egypt’s Sinai

(FOREIGN DESK NEWS) — Militants attacked a security convoy in Egypt’s strife-torn Sinai Peninsula, killing at least 18 policemen in a blast and a gun battle on Monday, sources said – an assault claimed by Islamic State.

The attackers detonated an improvised explosive device and managed to destroy three armored vehicles and a signal-jamming vehicle near Arish, the capital of North Sinai province, the security and medical sources said.

The attack turned into a gunfight and the militants also opened fire on ambulance workers, injuring four, the sources told Reuters.

At least 18 policemen, two of them officers, died in the violence, and a brigadier general lost a leg in the blast, several sources at Arish hospital said.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted by its news agency Amaq.

The Sunni Muslim militants are waging an insurgency in the rugged, thinly populated Sinai, aiming to topple the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Militants have killed hundreds of soldiers and police there since 2013, when the military, led by Sisi, ousted Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule.

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Predicting the shape of Iraq’s next Sunni insurgencies

(COMBATING TERRORISM CENTER) — By Michael Knights

Abstract: All politics and security is local in Iraq. Therefore, the analytical framework for predicting the shape and intensity of Iraq’s next Sunni insurgencies should also be based on the unique characteristics of each part of Iraq. The Islamic State and other insurgents are bouncing back strongest and quickest in the areas where the security forces are either not strong enough or not politically flexible enough to activate the population as a source of resistance against insurgents.

New insurgent attacks by the Islamic State were springing up in Mosul before the ashes were even cold from the climax of the liberation battle in June 2017. With the Islamic State holding just one square mile of western Mosul, the group marked the start of the Eid religious festival by launching a wave of suicide-vest and car-bomb attacks in liberated east Mosul on June 23-24.[1] As their last inner city defensive pocket was crumbling, Islamic State forces at the edges of the city launched a 40-man raid into the Tanak and Yarmuk districts on the outer western edge of Mosul city on June 26, panicking citizens into leaving the ostensibly liberated area.[2]

These incidents, and others like them, underline the manner in which Islamic State fighters have transitioned fairly smoothly and quickly from open occupation of territory back to the terrorism and insurgency tactics that they utilized prior to 2014. All eyes are now on how the Islamic State and other Sunni militants in Iraq will adapt to the loss of terrain, but there is no need to guess. A great deal of evidence is already available in the areas that have been liberated since 2014, a theme that this author and Alexander Mello developed in an October 2016 article in this publication on threat trends in Diyala province.[3] This piece proposes an analytical framework for assessing the future strength and shape of Iraq’s Sunni insurgencies and will draw some lessons from the pre-2014 era.

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Swedish firemen abandon house blaze after being attacked in no-go zone

(BREITBART) — By Chris Tomlinson

Firefighters in the southern Swedish city of Malmö were forced to let a building burn to the ground after they were violently attacked by locals who threw glass bottles at them.

The fire, which occurred in the city’s suburb of Kroksback, initially started after two cars in a car park were set on fire Thursday at around 9 pm. Police and fire crews were called and arrived on the scene shortly after, whilst another fire started at a nearby building on Sörbäcksgatan street, police said in a press release.

As the firemen tried to put out the second blaze, glass bottles were thrown at them and at their vehicles. The attack forced the firemen to abandon the blaze which engulfed the building and burned it to the ground.

Police who arrived on the scene were also attacked with glass bottles though the police report does not specify what damage was done to their vehicles or any injuries sustained by the emergency personnel.

Authorities also added that they do not know if there is any connection between the two fires, though both are suspected to be arson.

Attacks on emergency services personnel in Sweden are far from rare in certain areas that have become known globally as “no-go zones”. In some of the more notorious heavily migrant-populated suburbs like Husby, Tensta, and Rinkeby in Stockholm, police, firemen and ambulance workers have been attacked on multiple occasions.

The situation has become so bad in some areas that ambulance unions have asked for bullet proof vests to be given to paramedics working in problem areas.

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Vast new intelligence haul fuels next phase of fight against Islamic State

(LOS ANGELES TIMES) — W.J. Hennigan

U.S. intelligence analysts have gained valuable insights into Islamic State’s planning and personnel from a vast cache of digital data and other material recovered from bombed-out offices, abandoned laptops and the cellphones of dead fighters in recently liberated areas of Iraq and Syria.

In the most dramatic gain, U.S. officials over the last two months have added thousands of names of known or suspected Islamic State operatives to an international watch list used at airports and other border crossings. The Interpol database now contains about 19,000 names.

The intelligence haul — the largest since U.S. forces entered the war in mid-2014 — threatens to overwhelm already stretched counter-terrorism and law enforcement agencies in Europe, where Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks in Paris, London and Stockholm this year.

With the extremist group’s army and self-declared caliphate fast shrinking, U.S. officials are concerned that foreign-born militants who once flocked to Iraq and Syria will try to escape before the U.S.-led coalition or other military forces can kill them.

In recent weeks, U.S.-backed ground forces have sent an estimated 30 terabytes of data — equal to nearly two years of nonstop video footage — to the National Media Exploitation Center in Bethesda, Md., a little-known arm of the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence.

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Jihadis will continue terror attacks despite Isis defeat

(FINANCIAL TIMES) — By David Gardner

It is hardly news to the people of Barcelona and London, and before them the citizens of Paris and Brussels, Istanbul and Ankara, St Petersburg and Stockholm, or Nice and Berlin, that jihadis inspired and incited by Isis can terrorize their cities, even as an array of forces recaptures Isis strongholds in Mosul, Raqqa and, now, Deir al-Zor. The Islamic State caliphate, in all its monstrous vainglory, will perish. But jihadism, in all its blood-addled and doctrinal simplicity, would seem to have a fiery future.

Attacks like last month’s on Barcelona’s Ramblas, or at Westminster and London Bridge, are not, of course, new — nor purely a tactical riposte to territorial defeat in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Isis may be the first modern, Sunni jihadist movement to have set up a proto-state. But it always urged its followers to use the full gamut of irregular warfare, from classic terrorism and hit-and-run guerrilla insurgency to vans and knives. The world will now see more of this as the jihadis melt back into local Sunni Arab towns and tribes, and build their global networks and regional franchises.

Getting a good sense of their numbers is hard. But it is worth remembering that the precursor to Isis, the Iraqi chapter of al-Qaeda created by the sanguinary Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was all but destroyed in 2007-09 by the US military “surge” and revolt of the Sunni tribes of central and western Iraq. Resurrected by Syria’s descent into sectarian carnage, and given new backbone by allying with the Sunni supremacist, residual power structure of Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party and army, Isis stormed back into Iraq to set up its caliphate five years later. Can it repeat this phoenix trick?

The war in Syria, now in its seventh year, has made Isis — at its core, Iraqi — a much bigger phenomenon than its al-Qaeda predecessor. Yet the question goes beyond Isis. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the latest iteration of the Jabhat al-Nusra movement spawned by al-Qaeda, now fields one of the biggest armies in Syria.

Although much of Tahrir al-Sham’s estimated 30,000-strong force is bottled up in Idlib province in the north, it has successfully annexed most rival Salafist fighting groups, controls a long strip of Syria’s north-west border with Turkey, has a plentiful supply of suicide-bombers and demonstrable offensive capacity. Unlike Isis, as the French Syria scholar Fabrice Balanche remarks, this group “practices discretion in order to avoid antagonizing locals” and, crucially, “relies more on the potency of its network than on the accumulation of territory”.

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Rohingya crisis: Muslim villages in Burma’s Rakhine state burned to the ground as hundreds of thousands flee

(UK INDEPENDENT) — Rohingya villages are being burned to the ground in Burma’s Rakhine state, eyewitnesses have said.

BBC journalists reported seeing buildings ablaze in a village near the town of Mungdaw, including homes and a religious school.

The fires had allegedly been lit by a group of Rohingya Buddhists.

A group of men carrying weapons were spotted leaving the village, one of whom admitted he had lit the fires with help from the police, the BBC reported.

The government claims members of the persecuted minority have been destroying their own homes, which has been disputed by Rohingya who have fled the country into neighboring Bangladesh.

Rohingya refugees say the Burmese military and Rohingya Buddhists are setting their villages alight to drive them out, after attacks by Rohingya Muslim militants on police posts.

In August, Rohingya Muslim insurgents attacked several police posts and an army base, which led to a military crackdown that has resulted in the deaths of at least 400 people and forced tens of thousands to flee.

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Rohingya Muslims crisis: 270,000 refugees flee Burma for Bangladesh, UN says

(UK INDEPENDENT) — An estimated 270,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Burma in the past two weeks and sought refuge in Bangladesh, where two existing refugee camps are “bursting at the seams”, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Friday.

The exodus of the minority Rohingya was triggered by insurgent attacks on 25 August and an army counter-offensive.

Burma says its forces are fighting a legitimate campaign against terrorists responsible for a string of attacks on the police and army since last October. Officials blame Rohingya militants for killing non-Muslims and burning their homes.

“The two refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in southeast Bangladesh home to nearly 34,000 Rohingya refugees before this influx are now bursting at the seams. The population has more than doubled in two weeks, totaling more than 70,000. There is an urgent need for more land and shelters,” UNHCR said in a briefing note for reporters in Geneva.

“The vast majority are women, including mothers with newborn babies, families with children. They arrive in poor condition, exhausted, hungry and desperate for shelter.”

The United Nations was expecting a total refugee influx of 300,000, up from a previous estimate of 120,000, an official told Reuters on Wednesday.

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Top Muslim scholar: Stop pretending orthodox Islam and violence aren’t linked

(TRUTH REVOLT) — Yahya Cholil Staquf, 51, is one of Indonesia’s most influential Islamic leaders. The general secretary of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s biggest Muslim organization (about 50 million members strong), Yahya advocates a modern, moderate Islam, and he pulls few punches about the relationship of violence and fundamentalist Islam in an interview reposted in TIME magazine recently.

Below are translated excerpts from the interview, first published on Aug. 19 in German in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Check out how Yahya confounds the interviewer, who is clearly uncomfortable with the Islamic leader’s frank answers about the “religion of peace”:

Many Western politicians and intellectuals say that Islamist terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. What is your view?

Western politicians should stop pretending that extremism and terrorism have nothing to do with Islam. There is a clear relationship between fundamentalism, terrorism, and the basic assumptions of Islamic orthodoxy. So long as we lack consensus regarding this matter, we cannot gain victory over fundamentalist violence within Islam.

Radical Islamic movements are nothing new. They’ve appeared again and again throughout our own history in Indonesia. The West must stop ascribing any and all discussion of these issues to “Islamophobia.” Or do people want to accuse me — an Islamic scholar — of being an Islamophobe too?

What basic assumptions within traditional Islam are problematic?

The relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, the relationship of Muslims with the state, and Muslims’ relationship to the prevailing legal system wherever they live … Within the classical tradition, the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is assumed to be one of segregation and enmity.

Perhaps there were reasons for this during the Middle Ages, when the tenets of Islamic orthodoxy were established, but in today’s world such a doctrine is unreasonable. To the extent that Muslims adhere to this view of Islam, it renders them incapable of living harmoniously and peacefully within the multi-cultural, multi-religious societies of the 21st century.

A Western politician would likely be accused of racism for saying what you just said.

I’m not saying that Islam is the only factor causing Muslim minorities in the West to lead a segregated existence, often isolated from society as a whole. There may be other factors on the part of the host nations, such as racism, which exists everywhere in the world. But traditional Islam — which fosters an attitude of segregation and enmity toward non-Muslims — is an important factor.

And Muslims and the state?

Within the Islamic tradition, the state is a single, universal entity that unites all Muslims under the rule of one man who leads them in opposition to, and conflict with, the non-Muslim world.

So the call by radicals to establish a caliphate, including by ISIS, is not un-Islamic?

No, it is not. [ISIS’s] goal of establishing a global caliphate stands squarely within the orthodox Islamic tradition. But we live in a world of nation-states. Any attempt to create a unified Islamic state in the 21st century can only lead to chaos and violence … Many Muslims assume there is an established and immutable set of Islamic laws, which are often described as shariah. This assumption is in line with Islamic tradition, but it of course leads to serious conflict with the legal system that exists in secular nation-states.

Any [fundamentalist] view of Islam positing the traditional norms of Islamic jurisprudence as absolute [should] be rejected out of hand as false. State laws [should] have precedence.

How can that be accomplished?

Generations ago, we achieved a de facto consensus in Indonesia that Islamic teachings must be contextualized to reflect the ever-changing circumstances of time and place. The majority of Indonesian Muslims were — and I think still are — of the opinion that the various assumptions embedded within Islamic tradition must be viewed within the historical, political and social context of their emergence in the Middle Ages [in the Middle East] and not as absolute injunctions that must dictate Muslims’ behavior in the present … Which ideological opinions are “correct” is not determined solely by reflection and debate. These are struggles [about who and what is recognized as religiously authoritative]. Political elites in Indonesia routinely employ Islam as a weapon to achieve their worldly objectives.

Is it so elsewhere too?

Too many Muslims view civilization, and the peaceful co-existence of people of different faiths, as something they must combat. Many Europeans can sense this attitude among Muslims.

There’s a growing dissatisfaction in the West with respect to Muslim minorities, a growing fear of Islam. In this sense, some Western friends of mine are “Islamophobic.” They’re afraid of Islam. To be honest, I understand their fear … The West cannot force Muslims to adopt a moderate interpretation of Islam. But Western politicians should stop telling us that fundamentalism and violence have nothing to do with traditional Islam. That is simply wrong.

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Europe facing decades-long “bloody fight” with jihadists, warns Nigel Farage

(INFOWARS) — by Dan Lyman

Civil war in Europe now inevitable due to Islamic invasion

British statesman Nigel Farage has conceded that Europeans have crossed a tipping point and are now facing a battle against jihadists that could go on for decades, despite countless forewarnings about border security and immigration trends issued by nationalists like him.

In an interview with Westmonster, Farage was asked how he feels about the unfolding crisis of Islamic terrorism in the UK and Europe, knowing that he has attempted for many years to avert the looming catastrophe while being constantly defamed and slandered by the global elite, EU internationalists, and mainstream media alike.

“No one said sorry, not one – the legions who lined up to say that I was racist, neo-fascist – no one has apologized.” Farage said. “Surely, decent people would admit they were wrong.”

“To be honest, even my most pessimistic view of what was going to happen here has been far exceeded by truth and reality.”

“I think we are in a very bad place. I think we are in for decades of a very difficult and literally bloody fight, and I believe we have brought it all upon ourselves,” he assessed.

The EU’s head of counter-terrorism, Gilles de Kerchove, revealed in a recent interview with El Mundo that there are more than 50,000 known Islamic radicals currently in Europe, 20,000 – 25,000 of whom are in the United Kingdom.

“I would not venture to a specific figure, but tens of thousands, more than 50,000,” Kerchove stated when asked to estimate the number of jihadists in Europe.

According to El Mundo, Kerchove believes that Islamic slaughter in Europe is “a generational question that will accompany us for decades,” and that “we will suffer more attacks… it seems clear that something like Barcelona will happen again,” which serve as confirmations of Farage’s assertions.

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Intel chief – Germany must expect attacks by lone wolves & terrorist groups at ‘any time’

(RT) — Germany is likely to see more terrorist attacks conducted by Islamist jihadists, the country’s domestic intelligence chief has said while presenting an annual report which analyses threats to the state from all forms of extremism.

“We must expect further attacks by individuals or terror groups,” the Bundesamt fur Verfassungsschutz (BfV) chief, Hans-Georg Maassen said Tuesday. “Islamist terrorism is the biggest challenge facing the BfV and we see it as one of the biggest threats facing the internal security of Germany.”

The statement followed the agency publishing its annual report on constitution protection and threats to the state. It said some 24,400 Islamists remain in Germany, including around 10,000 Salafists, an ultra-conservative movement within Sunni Islam, followers of which have been prone to terrorism.

“The attacks have substantiated the IS threat scenario in Germany. IS can be held responsible for all attacks mounted in Germany in 2016,” the report reads. “Germany is the focus of Islamist terrorism. Terrorist incidents are possible in Germany at any time in the future.”
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Maassen said jihadists managed to carry out five attacks in 2016 while security services thwarted another seven.

The report classified the 2016 attacks in Germany as part of whats been termed, “phenomenon of the individual jihad,” acts which are committed by individuals or “micro groups.”

Germany is currently monitoring some 680 Islamist radicals who could potentially carry out an attack, according to Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.

The intelligent assessment said young people remain vulnerable to terrorist recruitment schemes as the youth “are particularly susceptible to jihadist propaganda, especially spread via social media.”

The report noted that the younger generation can easily be indoctrinated to “develop a readiness to consequently obey the order to kill unbelievers.”

New potential terrorists “possibly entering Europe under cover as part of the migration movement” as well as those returning from war zones in Syria and Iraq, remain under the radar of the security agencies, the report notes.

Maassen estimated that some 930 people left Germany to fight in Syria or Iraq, 20 percent of whom were women. From that number, the BfV chief believes 145 people have been killed in action.

Besides the jihadist and Islamist terrorism threat, the constitution protection report also analyzed the activities of various other groups, including far-right and far-left extremists.

With far-right extremism on the surge, events “directly or indirectly associated with Islam” have been frequently exploited by far-right sympathizers, the report notes. Last year, those accounted for 23,100 members while the number of violent offenses rose to 1,600. More than a half of those crimes particularly targeted asylum seekers and accommodation facilities.

Security has been stepped up in Germany following five lone-wolf terror attacks in the country last year. The most noted attack happened in December 2016, when a Tunisian asylum seeker, who pledged allegiance to Islamic State, plowed a truck into a Berlin Christmas market, killing 12 people.

Germany is now focusing all its efforts on this weekend’s G20 summit in Hamburg where around 20,000 security officers have been deployed.

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