Tagged: terrorism

Islamic State returning to insurgent roots as caliphate disappears

(CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR) — After being nearly defeated on the battlefields of its would-be caliphate, the Islamic State group has reverted to what it was before its spectacular conquests in 2014, analysts say – a shadowy insurgent network that targets civilian populations with guerrilla-style attacks and exploits state weaknesses to incite sectarian strife.

In Iraq and Syria, hardly a week goes by without the group staging an attack on a town or village, keeping its opponents on edge even as it fights US-backed forces advancing on the last remaining slice of territory under its control near the countries’ shared border.

Hisham al-Hashimi, an IS expert who advises the Iraqi government, said the group now operates like it did in 2010, before its rise in Iraq, which culminated four years later with the militants seizing one of Iraq’s biggest cities, Mosul, and also claiming the city of Raqqa in Syria and declaring an Islamic caliphate across large areas of both countries.

Mr. Al-Hashimi said the world’s most dangerous insurgent group is trying to prove that despite losing its territorial hold, “it still has long arms to strike.”

While it fends off attacks on its remaining pockets in Syria, a recent surge in false claims of responsibility for attacks also signals that the group is struggling to stay relevant after losing its proto-state and its dominance on the international news agenda. The main figures behind the group’s once sleek propaganda machine have mostly been killed. Raqqa fell a year ago this month, and the group has lost all but 2 percent of the territory it held in Iraq and Syria.

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ISIS take 700 refugees hostage as US keeps ‘imitating’ fighting terrorists in Syria

(RT) — Islamic State terrorists have attacked a refugee camp in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor province and took hundreds of people hostage, while the US and its allied armed groups looked away, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

The brazen assault on the El Bahra refugee camp took place on Saturday and saw “130 families of about 700 people” abducted and taken away to Hajin, the head of the Russian Reconciliation Center, Major General Vladimir Savchenko, said in a statement.

“The kidnapped civilians… can be used by terrorists as a ‘human shield’” to protect them from the possible advance of the US-backed Syrian democratic forces, he said.
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The town of Hajin, where the people were taken, is located in the 20-kilometer area along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River currently controlled by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists. IS has managed to maintain control of such large territory in Deir ez-Zor as a result of “inaction of the US-backed armed units,” Savchenko emphasized.

“The US-led coalition and the Pentagon-controlled Kurdish forces continue to imitate the fight against Islamic State in the south of Deir ez-Zor province,” without making actual steps to eradicate the terrorists, he said.

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Sweden is preparing for a “civil war”: PM wants to deploy army in no-go zones

(ZERO HEDGE) — Tyler Durden

For the first time since World War II, Sweden is preparing to distribute a civil defense brochure to some 4.7 million households, warning them about the onset of war.

The booklet will serve as a manual of “total defense” in case of a war, and provide details on how to secure basic needs such as water, food, and heating, the FT reported. The manual also covers other threats such as cyber attacks, terrorism, and climate change.

“All of society needs to be prepared for conflict, not just the military. We haven’t been using words such as total defense or high alert for 25-30 years or more. So the knowledge among citizens is very low,” said Christina Andersson, head of the project at the Swedish civil contingencies agency.

The survivalist manual or better known by some as a preppers guide is called “If Crisis or War Comes,” will be published by the government in late spring. Its publication comes at a time when the threat of war from Russia is high, well, possibly, but that is what the mainstream media has conditioned many to believe.

What if the threat is not from Russia, but one that is domestic?

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said that Sweden would do whatever it takes, including sending in the army, to end the wave of gang violence situated in the no-go zones around the country. Sweden’s murder rate has been relatively low over the years, but thanks to the migrant crisis, police are powerless in many areas across the country.

“It’s not my first action to put in a military, but I’m prepared to do what it takes to ensure that the seriously organized crime goes away,” Lofven said after the party leadership discussion in parliament.

“But it is also obvious that there are social problems. Last year 300 shootings occurred, 40 people were killed. The new year has begun with new launches. We see criminals with total lack of respect for human life, it’s a terrible development I’m determined to turn around,” he added.

Even the Swedish Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson “declared war” against organized crime and suggested that Sweden should deploy the military to no-go zones to counter the out of control violence.

“People are shot to death in pizza restaurants, people are killed by hand grenades they find on the street,” Akesson said in parliament on Wednesday.

“This is the new Sweden; the new, exciting dynamic, multicultural paradise that so many here in this assembly … have fought to create for so many years,” he said sarcastically.

Peter Imanuelsen, an independent journalist in Sweden, summed up the recent developments in a timeline:

Government sends out leaflets to 4.7 million households telling them how to prepare for war
Leader for Swedish Democrat party says “A war is being waged on Swedish society”
Swedish PM is considering deploying the army in no-go zones. I think I am starting to figure out what’s going on here…
The Swedish government just talked about the possibility of putting the army on the streets to deal with the no-go zone criminal gangs.

To sum up, the Swedish government is preparing for a destabilizing event, while the mainstream media continues to use Russia as the scapegoat. Meanwhile, high ranking government officials in Sweden have echoed in unity that military intervention in dozens of no-go zones across the country is a high probability. At the same time, the government is preparing to hand out millions of survival manuals to their citizens indicating a destabilizing event is nearing.

Late on Wednesday we reported of even more chaos in Sweden when a hand grenade was tossed at a police station in Malmo, resulting in a “huge explosion” according to local media reports.

And lastly, while the three biggest political parties in Sweden urge for a military intervention in the no-go zones, the Swedish civil contingencies agency is frantically trying to print millions of survival manuals to protect the citizens for what appears to be a turbulent future in 2018.

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In Syrian Christian town, ISIS executed 116 people before Assad’s army closed in

(NEWSWEEK) — By Jack Moore

Evidence has emerged of another Islamic State militant group (ISIS) mass execution, this time in the Syrian Christian desert town of Al-Qaryatain.

The militant group killed at least 116 civilians in executions committed in the days before the Syrian regime recaptured the town, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a U.K.-based monitoring group with an extensive network of contacts in Syria.

“ISIS has over a period of 20 days executed at least 116 civilians in reprisal killings, accusing them of collaboration with regime forces,” SOHR chief Rami Abdelrahman told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

ISIS regained control of the town three weeks ago, and then the killings began. Syrian regime forces, backed by Russian air power, arrived and liberated the town on October 21 after dozens of ISIS fighters retreated, at which point the remains of the victims of the mass execution were found.

“After the regime retook it, the town’s residents found the bodies on the streets. They had been shot dead or executed with knives,” Abdelrahman said.

“Most of the ISIS fighters who attacked the town a month ago were sleeper cells…. They are from the town, know the town’s residents and who is for or against the regime,” he said.

A Syrian government official told the Associated Press that it was a “shocking massacre” and that government forces are continuing the search for victims in the town.

Another activist group, known as the Palmyra Coordination Committee, identified 67 civilians killed in Al-Qaryatain and said that figure could increase.

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Afghan officials: Taliban wave of attacks kills at least 74, hundreds wounded

(USA TODAY) — KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban unleashed a wave of attacks across Afghanistan on Tuesday, targeting police compounds and government facilities with suicide bombers in the country’s south, east and west, and killing at least 74 people, officials said.

Among those killed in one of the attacks was a provincial police chief. Scores were also wounded, both policemen and civilians.

According to Afghanistan’s deputy interior minister, Murad Ali Murad, the day’s onslaught was “biggest terrorist attack this year.”

Murad told a press conference in Kabul that in Tuesday’s attacks in Ghazni and Paktia provinces, the insurgents killed 71 people.

In southern Paktia province, 41 people — 21 policemen and 20 civilians — were killed when the Taliban targeted a police compound in the provincial capital of Gardez with two suicide car bombs. Among the wounded were 48 policemen and 110 civilians.

The provincial police chief, Toryalai Abdyani, was killed in the Paktia attack, Murad confirmed.

The Ministry of Interior said in a statement earlier on Tuesday that after the two cars blew up in Gardez, five attackers with suicide belts tried to storm the compound but that Afghan security forces “killed all five terrorist.”

According to the Health Ministry spokesman, Waheed Majroo, the Gardez city hospital reported receiving at least 130 wounded in the attack.

Hamza Aqmhal, a student at the Paktia University, told The Associated Press that he heard a very powerful blast that shattered glass and broke all the windows at the building he was in. The university is 1.25 miles from the training academy, said Aqmhal, who was slightly injured by the glass

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Knifeman shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ slits a woman’s throat and stabs another to death at Marseille station before he is killed by French army

(UK DAILY MAIL) — A man carrying a knife and shouting ‘Allahu akbar’ killed two female passengers before being shot dead by soldiers at train station in the southern French city of Marseille.

The attack at Marseille’s busiest train station took place early this afternoon, as scores of armed police officers and soldiers swarmed the area.

Both victims were women, with one left with a ‘sliced neck’.

Local official Oliver de Mazieres told AFP: ‘Two victims have been stabbed to death.’

The prosecutor for the area Xavier Tarabeux said the knife man was shot by soldiers, while Marseille police urged people in the city to avoid the area around Saint-Charles station.

The prosecutor’s office in Paris said in a statement the probe would focus on ‘killings linked to a terrorist organization’ and the ‘attempted killing of a public official’, two terror-related charges.

Early pictures from the scene showed a woman lying on the ground and armed police standing over a man on the floor.

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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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Al Qaeda has drawn a bullseye on a new American target: Subway trains

(WASHINGTON TIMES) — By Rowan Scarborough

Al Qaeda is about to take on a new target — America’s trains — in an upcoming edition of its terror magazine, Inspire.

Issue No. 17 is headlined, “Train Derail Operations,” and will spell out ways to create rail disasters in a transportation system that lacks the stiff security procedures of airline travel.

It’s competing Sunni extremists group, the Islamic State, for more than a year has advocated using vehicles to mow down innocents. Its murderous followers have weaponized vehicles in Nice, Berlin and London, creating hundred of deaths and injuries.

Adding trains to the terrorist’s priority list would put at risk virtually every mode of transportation and placed added pressure on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) put out a report on Friday saying al Qaeda has teased the Inspire articles with a trailer appearing on Telegram app channels operated by its fans.

“The trailer highlights that derailments are simple to design using easily available materials, that such a planned attack can be hard to detect, and that the outcome can substantially damage a country’s transportation sector and the Western economy in general,” MEMRI said.

The U.S. maintains over 100,000 miles of rail. But the trailer features scenes of just one system, the subway. Its shows cars flashing through urban tunnels. It quotes from U.S. Government Accountability Office reports on the vulnerability of rail lines to sabotage. It then shows what appear to be rudimentary devices that can be clamped onto a line to cause a derailment.

“Simple to design,” the promo says in English script, mentioning “America” several times. “Made from readily available materials. Hard to be detached. Cause great destruction to the Western economy and transportation sector.”

Al Qaeda in recent months has depicted itself as making a comeback from its headquarters in Yemen. It has created new alliances in North Africa, is using social media to attract adherence and has not given up the idea of another mass-casualty attack such as its commandeered airliner strike on New York and the Pentagon in 2001.

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ISIS newspaper days before London bridge: New UK attack ‘definitely coming’

(PJ MEDIA) — By Bridget Johnson

The latest issue of the Islamic State’s weekly newspaper al-Naba released two days ago warned that another terrorist attack in Britain was “definitely coming.”

Al-Naba, a 16-page color newsletter, is distributed within ISIS territory but is also posted and distributed online via the usual ISIS mediums such as Telegram and social media.

Britain, said an article within the newsletter titled “Blessed Battle of Manchester: A new lesson for tyrants, Crusader States,” thought it “was safe from the wounds of the Mujahideen.”

“Protected by the sea they have long relied on isolating themselves” and thought “their exit from the European Union would save them.”

“A soldier from the Islamic State” in Manchester, the article continued, “has unleashed terror throughout their country, they rushed to spread the army in the cities, mobilizing police and security in the streets for fear of a new attack,” which “is inevitable, God willing.”

ISIS branded British security and vigilance across cities and towns a “costly, exhausting situation.”

ISIS also needled the UK for “their abandonment of John Cantlie,” a British war correspondent who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and has been forced to write propaganda pieces and film video segments for his ISIS captors. Cantlie was last seen in December ISIS videos reporting from Mosul.

Though Al-Naba usually focuses on events within ISIS territory, Ohio State terrorist Abdul Razak Ali Artan was featured in a December article calling the first-year student “one of the Mujahideen of the Islamic State” who “attacked a gathering” at the school, causing “serious injuries.”

British authorities are treating tonight’s ramming of pedestrians on London Bridge by a white van speeding at about 50 mph and a stabbing at nearby Borough Market as terrorist incidents.

Last month in Rumiyah magazine, which is published in several languages including English, ISIS published a remedial step-by-step pictorial for lone jihadists on how to use a heavy vehicle to kill, walking would-be terrorists through how to acquire a vehicle and which targets to strike.

“The ideal vehicle,” said ISIS, has a “slightly raised chassis and bumper,” is a “double-wheeled, load-bearing truck” that “large in size, heavy in weight” and is “fast in speed or rate of acceleration.”

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Jihadi terror manuals on how to use a car as a ‘tool of war’ for mass murder can be found in just two minutes on Google and Twitter

(DAILY MAIL) — Guides to mounting a car terror attack were available on Google and Twitter last night. The vile manuals were online despite widespread warnings that UK jihadists use them for training.

Fanatics are urged to deploy large vehicles as ‘tools of war’ before going on a stabbing rampage – the template for Wednesday’s atrocity in Westminster. Boris Johnson accused social media websites of inciting terrorism.

And Google’s YouTube video platform was found to be raking in money from conspiracy theories saying the London outrage was a hoax.

As the maniac behind the attack was unmasked as 52-year-old Khalid Masood:

The security services faced questions because he was known to police and MI5;
Home Secretary Amber Rudd denied failures but admitted: ‘One got through’;
It emerged MPs had raised concerns about the Commons gates Masood waltzed through;
Officials revealed that he was shot dead by a ministerial bodyguard, rather than by armed police;
Islamic State claimed Masood was its ‘soldier’;
Officers made eight arrests around the country;
The death toll rose to five when a 75-year-old man died in hospital last night.

Masood, a bodybuilder and violent criminal who claimed to have been a teacher, raced across Westminster Bridge on Wednesday in a hire car, smashing into pedestrians at up to 70mph, killing three and injuring 28.

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