Category Archives: Terrorism

What Obama and ISIS Have in Common

obama isis
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

Sometimes Obama seems a lot more worried about ISIS’ social media presence than about its tens of thousands of fighters carving their way across Syria and Iraq. While there is still no strategy for defeating the Islamic State on the battlefield, the administration has focused on a social media strategy instead.

The most dangerous component of ISIS isn’t online, but its most dangerous component to Obama is. An administration that runs on social media and public perception is a lot more worried about what ISIS says online than how many people it enslaves, rapes and massacres in Iraq and Syria.

One of the things that makes ISIS very different from other Islamic terrorist groups is how good it is at reaching Americans with its propaganda. That makes its recruitment of Muslims in America more effective, but it also means that the administration is unable to shove the war into the closet.

Obama’s disastrous Afghan surge cost thousands of American lives without ever beating the Taliban. But few Americans have any idea that anything went wrong because of a media blackout and an inability by Republicans to make the war into an issue. Obama’s illegal attack on Libya led to Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood taking over entire cities. But most Americans have no idea it ever happened.

ISIS however is really great at publicity. It’s as good at promoting its latest crimes as any Hollywood studio. Ignoring it isn’t an option. Obama tried and it culminated in the Yazidi genocide.

His strategy for fighting ISIS ties together all his old failed strategies. There are the selective drone strikes targeting ISIS leaders. He’s trying to keep together the old Libyan coalition for air strikes while expecting other countries to once again do most of the heavy lifting. There are more efforts at assembling a coalition of Muslim militias. None of these strategies can work or will work.

The international coalition depends on Turkey, a sometime ally of ISIS, which is much more interested in killing the Kurds fighting ISIS, than in fighting the terror group. The Muslim militias he’s backing either work with Al Qaeda and ISIS or work for Iran. And selective drone strikes are more useful for stopping a terrorist group on the run than a burgeoning country that conquerors territory and controls cities.

Failure alone wouldn’t bother Obama. Every conflict on his watch has gone disastrously. But his failures are no longer private. They’re not closed off in wordy debates in the denser parts of newspapers.

Obama can’t run away from ISIS the way he has from every other disaster in the Middle East. And he can’t defeat it without authorizing bombing raids with high civilian casualties or ground forces. But he isn’t even willing to bomb ISIS training camps, let alone less obvious targets, so winning the war is out.

Hitting ISIS hard or bringing ground troops back to Iraq for extended armed battles would tarnish what he sees as his progressive foreign policy legacy. That leaves him with very few options.

Lying about ISIS has been a consistent administration strategy and the latest revelations about intelligence reports that were doctored to make it seem as if ISIS were weaker and the campaign against it was working fit that pattern. But the lies were also futile. Like Benghazi, doctoring documents makes no difference when there are graphic photos and videos of another attack that everyone can see.

But it does fit the larger Obama strategy of running out the clock and making ISIS into someone else’s problem. The illusion of progress, however false and weak, is better than nothing. Obama is betting that he can stall the public with misleading claims that progress is being made in a long war effort.

But to get away with it, he has to do something about the publicity machine of the Islamic State.

Obama and the Caliph of the Islamic State mirror each other. Both believe in a “Forward” strategy that smashes through the Overton window by violating any and all rules of the game.  Enemies are to be destroyed and rulebreaking is to be triumphantly normalized as the only way for the cause to win. Loyalty is pledged personally to the leader and even minor deviations by allies are ruthlessly punished.

Both also excel at social media propaganda. Obama and the Caliph are middle aged radicals surrounded by staffs filled with millenials to whom social media is second nature. Both sides have built a strategy of radicalization that is focused on turning out a narrow and passionately enthusiastic base while forcing everyone else to either accept their triumphs or scramble to engage in last minute resistance.

Obama’s base however limits itself to violent riots. It doesn’t behead people on camera.

Caliph al-Baghdadi has done for Islamic terrorism what Obama did for leftist politics. He took a creaky outdated infrastructure and modernized it and made it trendy. The Caliph of ISIS is to Osama bin Laden as Obama is to Bernie Sanders. In some ways he is Obama’s twin and that’s why Obama is losing to him.

Obama isn’t fighting a bunch of bearded relics in a cave somewhere. His opposite number shares much of his worldview. Obama and the Caliph both believe that wars are won by using publicity to create the illusion of an inevitable victory. Both men have built powerful publicity machines that crowdsource the distribution of their propaganda to volunteers to make it seem like an authentic grassroots message.

But it’s ISIS that has the momentum. Obama has always understood that doing something is more powerful than doing nothing. It’s why he has beaten Republicans so many times. But in Iraq and Syria, it’s ISIS that is aggressively moving forward while Obama struggles to create the appearance of action.

While Obama is unwilling to alienate Muslims and the left, the Islamic State has no such worries.

Obama can’t bring the war to ISIS. ISIS however has no difficulty recruiting Muslims in this country to bring the war to Americans. It doesn’t just do this with speeches or Islamic scripture, but with memes, hashtags and graphics that bypass the media to make the message clear to American audiences.

All this is typical of how Obama would wage a campaign against Republicans. And he has no defense against it because the momentum is on the side of the Islamic State. His hashtag war is defensive. So it’s no wonder that his own analysts admit that he’s even losing the social media war against ISIS.

The administration has been pressuring Twitter to shut down ISIS accounts and arresting ISIS propagandists because it can’t compete with them. It’s less concerned with terrorism than with the ability of ISIS to punch through and repeatedly remind Americans that the war isn’t over.

Obama’s ability to advance his foreign policy agenda, including the Iran nuclear deal, the Gitmo closure and a Palestinian state, depends on preventing Americans from realizing that ISIS is winning the war. Every time ISIS reminds Americans that it’s winning, his credibility and competence take another hit.

That’s why Obama is much more focused on taking out ISIS on social media than he is on beating their forces. Obama let ISIS take over Iraqi cities. He might be willing to let the Caliph have his Caliphate with its sex slaves and piles of corpses if only he would let Obama keep his memes and trending hashtags.

ISIS Burns Alive Four Prisoners

Still from video.

The Islamic State has released a chilling new video showing the execution of four Shiite prisoners by burning in Iraq.

The four men are accused of being members of the Shiite Popular Resistance Committees. They are forced to confess for the camera before the execution.

They are suspended from a frame with ropes and a fire lit underneath. Islamic State music accompanies the executions.

The killings are believed to be revenge attacks for a video circulated last week of a Shiite militia roasting a fighter accused of allegiance to ISIS over an open pit.

The video is entitled Punish Them with the Same Harm They Have Caused You, a verse from the Quran alluding to vengeance.

As the video was released news broke that ISIS blew up the Temple of Bel in Palmyra. It was considered to be the most important temple at the site and was the second to be destroyed, following the destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin last week.

Video n more here: http://www.clarionproject.org/news/isis-burns-alive-four-prisoners-grisly-revenge-flick#

Russia jets in Syria skies

Alex Fishman
Russian fighter pilots are expected to begin arriving in Syria in the coming days, and will fly their Russian air force fighter jets and attack helicopters against ISIS and rebel-aligned targets within the failing state.

According to Western diplomats, a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in Syria and set up camp in an Assad-controlled airbase. The base is said to be in area surrounding Damascus, and will serve, for all intents and purposes, as a Russian forward operating base.

In the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria, including advisors, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and the pilots who will operate the aircraft.

A formation of Russian Mig 31's (Photo: Reuters)
A formation of Russian Mig 31’s (Photo: Reuters)

Past reports have stated that the Russians were in talks to sell the Syrians a package of MiG-29 fighter jets, and Yak-130 trainer jets (which can also serve as attack aircraft.) The current makeup of the expeditionary force is still unknown, but there is no doubt that Russian pilots flying combat missions in Syrian skies will definitely change the existing dynamics in the Middle East.

The Russians do not harbor offensive intentions towards Israel or other sovereign states in the area, and their main stated goal is battling ISIS and preserving Assad’s rule. However, their presence will represent a challenge to the Israeli Air Force’s freedom of operation in the skies above the Middle East.

Western diplomatic sources recently reported that a series of negotiations had been held between the Russians and the Iranians, mainly focusing on ISIS and the threat it poses to the Assad regime. The infamous Iranian Quds Force commander Major General Qasem Soleimani recently visited Moscow in the framework of these talks. As a result the Russians and the Iranians reached a strategic decision: Make any effort necessary to preserve Assad’s seat of power, so that Syria may act as a barrier, and prevent the spread of ISIS and Islamist backed militias into the former Soviet Islamic republics.

Russian Air force air craft (Photo: Reuters)
Russian Air force air craft (Photo: Reuters)

The Russians are not the only ones coordinating their Middle East policy with the Iranians; The US has also jumped aboard that train. American government officials have been holding intensive consultations with representatives of the Iranian regime concerning a stronger joint effort against ISIS in Iraq. It seems that the US government currently views Iran as a central and necessary force in the campaign against ISIS within Iraq.

The Iranian-American cooperation is focused on two focal points: The first being Anbar province, where the Iraqis have thus far failed to expel ISIS; and the second Mosul, where the Iraqis have yet to come up with a feasible plan to recapture the city.

Western diplomatic sources have emphasized that the Obama administration is fully aware of the Russian intent to intervene directly in Syria, but has yet to issue any reaction. The absence of a vocal opposition from the Obama administration is compounded by its cessation of calls for the dissolution of Assad’s murderous regime.

This and more: The Iranians and the Russians- with the US well aware- have begun the struggle to reequip the Syrian army, which has been left in tatters by the civil war. They intend not only to train Assad’s army, but to also equip it. During the entire duration of the civil war, the Russians have consistently sent a weapons supply ship to the Russian held port of Tartus in Syria on a weekly basis. The ships would bring missiles, replacement parts, and different types of ammunition for the Syrian army.

A Russian Air Force Mig 31 (Photo: Reuters)
A Russian Air Force Mig 31 (Photo: Reuters)

Arab media outlets have recently published reports that Syria and Russia were looking for an additional port on the Syrian coast, which will serve the Russians in their mission to hasten the pace of the Syrian rearmament.

In the meantime, Assad’s army is in full scale retreat in the strategic province of Idlib. Mere days ago, a force from the Jaesh Al Fatah (A coalition or rebel groups including Jabhat al-Nusra) advanced on the Abu Duhur military airfield in southwestern Syria’s Iblib province, which borders on Latika. Alwaite and Christian residents of the area have fled to the last remaining Alawite Bantustans along the country’s coastline.

Even Turkey, which has so far avoided any action which would strengthen Assad, has had to come to terms with the Russian-Iranian move and the resulting American silence, leading it to launch its own bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria.

 

During a recent trip to Qatar, Erdogan reached understandings with the Qataris and the Saudis regarding a program to arm Muslim Brotherhood backed rebels who are fighting against ISIS, de-facto fighting both Assad and ISIS.

Obama refuses to bomb ISIS training camps turning out thousands of fighters a month

IMG_0386
 Ever wonder why the US military – the most powerful and technologically advance force in the world – is losing a war to a bunch of fanatical fighters?

Could be that we’re not serious enough about “destroying and degrading” Islamic State forces.

Case in point: There are dozens of ISIS training camps spread throughout Syria and Iraq training thousands of fighters a month – and we haven’t once targeted a camp in our air campaign.

The fear is hitting civilians – what the military calls “responsible targeting.” But Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon has examined the targets hit by our forces and comes away unimpressed.

The military campaign, known as Operation Inherent Resolve, appears to be floundering despite a yearlong campaign of airstrikes and military training programs aimed to bolstering Iraqi military forces.

A review of Central Command reports on airstrikes since last year reveals that no attacks were carried out against training camps.

Targets instead included Islamic State vehicles, buildings, tactical units, arms caches, fighting positions, snipers, excavators, mortar and machine gun positions, bunkers, and bomb factories.

The risk-averse nature of the airstrike campaign was highlighted last month by Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, chief of staff for what the military calls Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

“The coalition continues to use air power responsibly,” Weidley said July 1. “Highly precise deliveries, detailed weaponeering, in-depth target development, collateral damage mitigation, and maximized effects on Daesh, are characteristics of coalition airstrike operation in Iraq and Syria.”

Daesh is another name for the Islamic State.

“The coalition targeting process minimizes collateral damage and maximizes precise effects on Daesh,” Weidley said earlier. “Air crews are making smart decisions and applying tactical patience every day.”

Other coalition spokesman have indicated that targeting has been limited to reaction strikes against operational groups of IS fighters. “When Daesh terrorists expose themselves and their equipment, we will strike them,” Col. Wayne Marotto said May 27.

The military website Long War Journal published a map showing 52 IS training camps and noted that some may no longer be operating because of the U.S.-led bombing campaign.

According the map, among the locations in Iraq and Syria where IS is operating training camps are Mosul, Raqqah, Nenewa, Kobane, Aleppo, Fallujah, and Baiji.

The group MEMRI obtained a video of an IS training camp in Nenewa Province, Iraq, dated Oct. 1, 2014.

The video shows a desert outpost with tan tents and around 100 fighters who take part in hand-to-hand combat exercises, weapons training, and religious indoctrination.

We are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs because of the fear of collateral damage. Fair enough. But consider that nearby in Yemen, the Saudis are wontonly killing civilians in their air strikes, and the Syrian government and Hezb’allah are massacring civilians with poison gas and “barrel bombs.”

The Obama administration is running out the clock on the war against Islamic State, hoping they can keep ISIS from a sweeping victory until after they are safely out of office. No messy civilian deaths will be allowed to tarnish the Lightworker’s legacy – even if that means continued suffering and death at the hands of terrorists because we refuse to destroy their training camps.

Libya calls for international airstrikes against ISIS

PARIS: Libya’s foreign minister Tuesday renewed a call for the lifting of an arms embargo and for international airstrikes to help tackle ISIS, which threatens to create a “rear base” in the country.

“The situation is extremely serious,” Mohammad al-Dayri, foreign minister for Libya’s internationally recognized government based in Misrata, said on a visit to Paris. “People are dying, are crucified, are disinterred from their graves, are burned alive. Libyans don’t understand why the international community doesn’t wake up to these dangers.”

Libya has two rival governments and has been torn apart since the international community helped oust Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Libya’s official government has been based in the east since losing the capital a year ago to Libya Dawn, which set up its own government. Neither administration controls much territory.

Dayri said ISIS was present in the towns of Derna, Benghazi, Sirte and Sabratha. “They have not yet seized oil fields, but we fear they might come to control several wells,” he added.

“On Saturday, there was a call from their leaders in Iraq and Syria to reinforce their ranks in Libya. They want to make Libya a rear base.”

He said ISIS currently had limited means in Libya and had faced pushback from local populations working alongside other armed Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda, notably in Derna in June. “After 2011, Libya was abandoned to its fate.”

He called for the U.N. to lift the arms embargo imposed in 2011.

“We are not talking about sophisticated military equipment, but we need the minimum to fight terrorism in an adequate manner,” he said.

“We also hope for an [international] intervention as soon as possible because the danger is growing. But not troops on the ground. We are hoping for aerial support for the Libyan armed forces on the ground.

“The international community waited for Mosul to fall before intervening in Iraq. We don’t want to see Tripoli or Misrata fall,” he said.

ISIS Monday executed four people in Sirte, including at least one member of a rival group whose body was put on display, according to residents and a video published on social media. The video released by the militant group showed a gunmen shooting a man, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, who was tied to a makeshift cross. His body was left there afterward as a warning to others.

The man was identified as an alleged spy for Libya Dawn, a group backing a nonrecognized government in Tripoli, which has flown airstrikes against ISIS in Sirte.

The executions come after ISIS fighters crushed a revolt by a Salafist group and armed residents in Sirte earlier this month, trying to break its grip on the city, located some 500 km to the east of Tripoli.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 26, 2015, on page 10.

Child beheads teddy bear in new ISIS video

Disturbing footage of a child beheading his teddy bear has been released online in what seems to be an ISIS propaganda stunt. (Photo courtesy: YouTube)

Al Arabiya News

Disturbing footage of a child beheading his teddy bear has been released online in what seems to be an ISIS propaganda stunt.

The video, released this week, shows a young boy holding a knife to a stuffed toy before lifting his weapon and shouting a derogatory term used for non-believers of Islam, the UK-based Daily Mail reported Tuesday.

The child appears to be standing in front of an ISIS flag and proceeds to saw the head off the toy in the 30-second video uploaded to YouTube.

It has not been confirmed whether the terror group is responsible for the clip.

In July, a young boy was filmed beheading a man thought to be a Syrian soldier in the Homs province of Syria.

That video was shared by alleged ISIS supporters who praised the child.

The Supreme Council of Cyberspace

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