Iraq

Barbarians at the Gates of Baghdad

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How long can Iraq’s besieged forces hold out against the Islamic State?

BY Susannah George OCTOBER 21, 2014

BAGHDAD Speaking from a base besieged by Islamic State fighters, a police lieutenant in Anbar province painted a grim picture of the Iraqi government‘s faltering hold on this restive western region. Surrounded on all sides, he expects the jihadi group to be within firing range any day now.

Sitting just to the west of Hit, a small town along a key highway connecting the city of Haditha to Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi, al-Asad is the largest military base in Anbar and one of just two that remain in government control. Last week, after first attacking the eastern edge of Hit with suicide bombers, Islamic State militants overran the town. The United Nations says the ensuing clashes displaced more than 180,000 people. Read the rest of this entry »

Iran News Round Up September 29, 2014

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English: Army of the Guardians of the Islamic ...
English: Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution & Islamic Republic of Iran Army used many zu-23 in Iran-iraq war. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian and Iran Intern Amir Toumaj, with contributors Chris Rawlins, Diana Timmerman, and Marie Donovan.

 (E) = Article in English

Military and Security

  • Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Haji Zadeh said:
    • On Iran’s downing of an Israeli Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): “After this action, some large countries sent us messages of congratulations… the Israeli aircraft did not post information online; but the information was stored in it, so by destroying it,  [the UAV] did not send any information.”
    • “This is a spy plane, and usually countries do not comment on these UAVs, but given what we know of them in Syria and in some other places such as Karabakh, we are already familiar with this type of aircraft…”
    • “Fighter aircraft are created for carrying out military operations and targeting certain parts of the country, and if we can discover them, we can see the damage; but the spy planes are primarily small and secretive… detection, interception, and destruction of these aircraft is very, very difficult.” (Sepah News) Read the rest of this entry »

New jihad appeal makes policing even harder

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Soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Frenchman Herve Gourdel, 55,  was abducted in Algeria on Monday by a splinter group from al-Qaida's North African branch. The Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, said it would kill him unless France halts it airstrikes in Iraq within 24 hours. French forces on Friday joined the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes against extremists who have overrun large areas of Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — The Islamic State group’s call on Muslims to go after the “filthy French” and other Westerners multiplies already deep security concerns in nations targeting the militant organization.

The appeal made public Monday makes intelligence tracking of potential suspects virtually impossible and opens up Muslims in the West to the possibility of being unfairly put under suspicion or stigmatized.

Nations are honing mechanisms to monitor Westerners who head to Syria and Iraq to fight in the jihad, the better to catch them when they return home with deadly skills. But how do you track someone who reads the Islamic State group’s call in a newspaper or on a mainstream website, and then carries out a spontaneous attack? Read the rest of this entry »

ISIS cyber capability judged more ‘aspirational’ than operational

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By Sean Lyngaas  Sep 17, 2014

Shutterstock image: unfunctional computer.ISIS terrorists have announced their intention to establish a “digital caliphate” for launching attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure.

Interviews with cybersecurity experts and questions posed to public officials reveal an assessment of the cyber warfare capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that, while potentially dangerous, remains more aspirational than operational.

It is common for a terrorist group like ISIS to develop cyber capabilities to complement their ambitions to carry out violent attacks, experts say. But being slick with social media is a world apart from being able to hack segments of U.S. critical infrastructure.

ISIS terrorists have said online that they aim to establish a “digital caliphate” for launching attacks on U.S. infrastructure, according to a Sept. 14 Fox News report. Doing so might prove difficult, but it wouldn’t cost much to begin probing networks. One could buy a tablet for a few hundred dollars, set up some encryption tools and start running vulnerability analyses of code used by critical infrastructure like the electric grid, said Tony Cole, vice president and global government CTO at FireEye, a network security firm. Read the rest of this entry »

Isis fighters must be allowed back into UK, says ex-MI6 chief

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Counter-terrorism expert Richard Barrett says repentant jihadis ‘can expose true nature of Islamic State

, and The Observer, Sunday 7 September 2014

Isis militants in Mosul

An image taken from a YouTube video allegedly shows Islamic State (Isis) militants taking part in a military parade in Mosul, northern Iraq. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

Britain should encourage jihadis fighting in Syria and Iraq to “come home”, the former global counter-terrorism director of MI6 has said.

David Cameron outlined new powers last week for police to seize the passports of terrorist suspects and stop British extremists from returning to the UK. Others, including Boris Johnson, the London mayor, have called for British jihadis to have their citizenship removed.

However, Richard Barrett, a former counter-terrorism chief at MI5 and MI6, said repentant fighters needed “to know that there is a place for them back at home”. Read the rest of this entry »

Pro-Isis Bosnia Salafi Leader Bilal Bosnic ‘Among 16 Detained in Police Sweep’

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By Gianluca Mezzofiore September 3, 2014 11:27 BST

Bilal Bosnic

Bilal Bosnic in his pro-Isis speech in northern Bosnia

Bosnian police have detained 16 people on allegations of funding terrorist activities, recruiting and fighting for the Islamic State (known as Isis) militants in Syria and Iraq.

Among the arrested is Bilal Bosnic, the leader of the Salafi movement in Bosnia Herzegovina who recently called young Muslims to join the ranks of Isis, Avaz news site reported.

The security sweep was made in 17 raids across the Balkan country, according to the State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA). “The suspects are connected to financing, organising and recruiting Bosnian citizens to depart for Syria and Iraq, and taking part in armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq, fighting on the side of radical terrorist groups and organisations,” the police statement said.

Hundreds of Muslims from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Albania and Bosnia are reported to have gone to pursue jihad in Syria and Iraq.

At the end of July, a leading Albanian jihadist fighting in Syria posted photos of himself on social media in which he beheads a young man who he claims was a spy. A recent IS video showed a Kosovo jihadist along with other Balkans fighters destroying their passports after vowing to extend the caliphate to Rome and Spain. Read the rest of this entry »

Obama Ramps Up Spying on ISIS, Paving the Way for Possible Airstrikes

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In ordering hundreds of military advisors to Iraq and dramatically ramping up intelligence-gathering on jihadist fighters threatening Baghdad, President Barack Obama sent his strongest signal yet that U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) may be likely.

Since ISIS fighters took control of two key Iraqi cities last week, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies have blanketed portions of the country with spy satellites and drones, giving them what one senior administration official called “round-the-clock coverage” of locations where ISIS is active. The military personnel headed to Iraq — as many as 300, Obama said — will work alongside Iraqi military forces in special intelligence centers, using drone video feeds and spy satellite photographs to track and attack ISIS fighters. They’ll also be in a prime position to help carry out U.S. airstrikes the moment Obama orders them.

In remarks from the White House Thursday, Obama didn’t say that airstrikes are imminent. He stressed that the only long-term solution to Iraq’s stabilization will come from political reconciliation between the Shiite-led government and the marginalized Sunni minority. But he left no doubt that he’s putting all the pieces in place to launch the first significant military action in Iraq since U.S. forces left there in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Disinformation and misinformation

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The 2003 Iraq war was triggered by a carefully orchestrated campaign of disinformation about Saddam Hussein’s alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. As pressures mount on President Obama to save Iraq’s all-Shia minority government against an onslaught of extremist Sunni guerrillas, past murky history is worth recalling.
By Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI Editor at Large   |   June 19, 2014 at 11:18 AM   |

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, November 1, 2013. UPI/Olivier Douliery/Pool

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It was dinnertime at the Vice President’s house on Massachusetts Avenue eleven months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The discussion centered on the need to get rid of Saddam Hussein‘s Sunni dictatorship in Iraq and replace it with a democratic government. This, in turn, would trigger democratic changes in Israel’s last hostile neighbor — Syria.On March 26, 1979, Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and President Jimmy Carter signed the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation. And on Oct 26, 1994, the late King Hussein of Jordan became the 2nd Arab leader to sign peace with Israel, putting behind them 46 years of hostility.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction never came up once at VP Cheney’s dinner. An invasion, the participants agreed, would be designed to trigger a democratic process in Iraq, thus completing a peaceful Arab circle around Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

Iraq is on a precipice

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Iraq is on a precipice
June 12th, 2014  09:12 AM E

By Michael Rubin, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes. The views expressed are his own.

Iraq is on a precipice from which it may never recover. The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to forces ostensibly from the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), may simply be the tip of the iceberg. What has happened in Iraq increasingly appears not simply to be a binary struggle between government and insurgent, but rather a more complicated problem that may be impossible to fully unravel.

I drove from Tikrit through Beiji to Mosul earlier this year, and into Syria along the same roads ISIS and other insurgents now use. Even then, government control over Mosul was tenuous. Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints on the outskirts of town urged me and my driver to reconsider my trip because Mosul was not safe; they relented only because a local vouched for me. After all, while Tikrit was home to former President Saddam Hussein and his immediate entourage, Mosul was the hometown of much of Saddam Hussein’s officer corps. It still is. As I continued on to the Syrian border, a special security agent at a checkpoint separated me from my taxi driver and another man accompanying us to ensure that I was there of my own free will. A senior security official in Baghdad subsequently told me that was standard protocol. It also reflects, however, the lawlessness of that area. Read the rest of this entry »

New Al Qaeda Group Produces Recruitment Material for Americans, Westerners

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English language appeals raise new concerns of future jihadist attacks in U.S.

Alhayat Media Center

BY:   June 13, 2014 5:00 am

Al Qaeda’s ultra-extremist Syrian offshoot known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is stepping up efforts to recruit Americans and other westerners for jihad in Syria and possibly for future domestic terror attacks, according to U.S. officials.

A new media outlet affiliated with ISIL recently began producing recruiting materials in both English and German that U.S. intelligence analysts say is a sign they are targeting western jihadists for recruitment.

It is the first time ISIL, one of the most prominent ultra-violent jihadists among Syria rebels groups, has set up a western-oriented media arm.

ISIL also is leading the major military operations now under way in Iran that has produced the group’s take over of several Iraqi cities, including Mosul, the second largest. Read the rest of this entry »