High-ranking U.S. officials said Wednesday that not only are Sunni radicals with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “worse than al Qaeda,” but that the group has a message for the president: “We’re coming for you, Barack Obama.”
The ISIL, under the command of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has taken over large swathes of Iraq and confiscated heavy weaponry previously belonging to Iraqi security forces in the past two months. The terrorist group is now in possession of as many as 52 U.S.-made M198 howitzers, McClatchy news service reported in June. Continue reading
KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) – After a jetliner was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, influential German foreign policy experts have begun calling for a military intervention, which may include German Bundeswehr units. “A Blue Helmet mission under the umbrella of the United Nations” should now be taken into consideration, declared Andreas Schockenhoff, Co-Chair of the CDU/CSU Group in the Bundestag. “Germany may also be asked” to contribute troops. For the Chairman of the Bundestag’s Defense Commission, Hans-Peter Bartels (SPD), a Blue Helmet mission is also “conceivable.” It is yet unclear, who bears responsibility for downing the jetliner. This is not an essential question for him, as past experience with Western interventions have shown: The EU and the USA must politically establish the facts. The war against Yugoslavia was justified with a massacre. Substantial doubts about central aspects of this massacre still persist. The sniper killings on Kiev’s Maidan Square on February 20 have never been elucidated, once they served as legitimation for overthrowing the government of President Yanukovych. Suspicions persist that sectors of today’s governing Maidan opposition may have played decisive roles in these murders; however that is of no interest to the West. On the contrary, there have never been political consequences for a US warship’s downing of an Iranian airliner in 1988. Continue reading
BEIRUT: Militants from ISIS now control or threaten key facilities on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, generating fears that the Al-Qaeda splinter group could turn off the taps to the Shiite south of Iraq, sparking a massive humanitarian crisis.Last month’s ISIS-led offensive across Iraq saw it overrun cities and battle for oil refineries as the national army melted away, but it has also been waging a war for water, trying to wrest control over rivers, dams and desalination plants in a bid to solidify its territorial gains.
Control of water is seen as key to the viability of the fledgling caliphate declared by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Without water, seasonal droughts cannot be managed, electricity cannot be generated, proper sanitation practices are near impossible and the local economy grinds to a virtual halt.
“When it comes to creating an Islamic state, it is not just about the control of geographic areas in Syria and Iraq. In order to form a viable state, one must control the state’s most vital infrastructure, which in Iraq’s case is water and oil,” said Matthew Machowski, a research fellow at Queen Mary University. Continue reading
“The bear is loose!” President Obama has been saying, whenever he leaves the White House to visit Starbucks, or sandwich shops, or burger joints, or BBQ shacks, or neighborhood diners, in his increasingly rote and pathetic attempts to “connect” with “real people.” Obama, we have been told, is frustrated, “restless,” bored with the responsibilities and chores of office. He thinks of himself as the bear—intimidating, wild, untamed, roving—escaping his den. But he is flattering himself. Obama is not the bear. He is the cub: aimless, naïve, self-interested, self-indulgent, irresponsible, irresolute. The bear is in Moscow.
One can trace a line from any global hotspot to Russia and its authoritarian ruler. Iran? Russia has assisted its nuclear program for decades. Syria? Russia is Bashar Assad’s arms dealer. Iraq? Russia is sending men and materiel to the central government. Afghanistan? Putin muscled nearby Kyrgyzstan into closing our air base there, crucial for transport, resupply, and reconnaissance in the war against the Taliban. The contretemps between the United States and Germany is the result of Edward Snowden’s breach of national security. Where is Snowden? In Russia, where he has just asked to have his visa renewed. I wonder if Vladimir Putin will say yes. Continue reading
As also mentioned here last week.
Plenty of materials for a potential dirty bomb are likely scattered throughout the area of Iraq controlled by ISIS, and pulling off an attack that spreads even a minor amount of radiation could be a huge PR coup for the terror group, experts told FoxNews.com.
Last week, the Iraqi government in Baghdad warned the UN that ISIS operatives had stolen 88 pounds of uranium compounds from Mosul University. Even though many experts said the research materials were not enough to cause widespread harm, spreading fear is even more important to terrorists than a big body count, one terrorism expert said. And with ISIS in control of a huge swath of northern Iraq and parts of Syria that includes research labs, hospitals and industrial sites, ingredients for radiation-spreading bombs are within its grasp.
“Obtaining radiological material from places like universities or hospitals is relatively easy if you have the firepower, a chaotic situation and jihadists willing to sacrifice their health handling it,” said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for The Clarion Project, a think tank that studies Islamic extremism. “We aren’t talking about producing a nuclear bomb; just combining an explosive with radioactive material.” Continue reading
The uranium could be used for “manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.”
Insurgents in Iraq have seized nuclear materials used for scientific research at a university in the country’s north, Iraq told the United Nations in a letter appealing for help to “stave off the threat of their use by terrorists in Iraq or abroad.” Continue reading
UNITED NATIONS — The Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, where remnants of 2,500 degraded chemical rockets filled decades ago with the deadly nerve agent sarin are stored along with other chemical warfare agents, Iraq said in a letter circulated Tuesday at the United Nations.
The U.S. government played down the threat from the takeover, saying there are no intact chemical weapons and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to use the material for military purposes.
The Islamic State group, which controls parts of Syria, sent its fighters into neighboring Iraq last month and quickly captured a vast stretch of territory straddling the border between the two countries. Last week, its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the land the extremists control. Continue reading
Saudi Arabia is facing today growing security threats amid fears that the same terrorism it established in neighboring countries, such as Iraq and Syria, will expand to reach its own territories, especially since the “Islamic State” organization has learned many lessons from the past experiences of its predecessor, al-Qaeda, with the Saudi regime.
New York – The Gulf governments seem worried these days. None of them had imagined, a few months ago, that individuals entrusted with security, people’s lives, oil fields and weapons would eventually pose the main threat to all these valuables.
Times have changed, so did the rules of the game. The new “caliph”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, supported by countries of the Gulf that have provided him with money and arms, will not wait before striking. Al-Baghdadi may even resort to a preemptive war, this time launched from inside, not from across the borders. Continue reading
Middle East experts at major U.S. think tanks were hacked by Chinese cyberspies in recent weeks as events in Iraq began to escalate, according to a cybersecurity firm that works with the institutions.
The group behind the breaches, called “DEEP PANDA” by security researchers, appears to be affiliated with the Chinese government, says Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer of the firm CrowdStrike. The company, which works with a number of think tanks on a pro bono basis, declined to name which ones have been breached.
Alperovitch said the firm noticed a “radical” shift in DEEP PANDA’s focus on June 18, the same day witnesses reported that Sunni extremists seized Iraq’s largest oil refinery. The Chinese group has typically focused on senior individuals at think tanks who follow Asia, said Alperovitch. But last month, it suddenly began targeting people with ties to Iraq and Middle East issues. Continue reading
Forget terrorism. The Pentagon’s best chance to field the best military with the smaller budget imposed by sequestration may just lie in preparing for nuclear war with Russia and China.
According to a new study, United States defense leaders should focus more on a “great power conflict” reflective of a newly aggressive Russia and rapidly modernizing China. Doing so would force the Defense Department to modernize its existing force and invest significantly in maintaining technological advantages at the expense of unlikely-to-be used ships, aircraft and soldiers. Among the arsenal the U.S. should keep: the full triad of bombers, submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles meant to deter or carry out nuclear warfare.
While the space between Syria and Iraq commands headlines this month, it’s Moscow and Beijing that leads researchers to offer an unexpectedly “go big or go home” proposition for the U.S. military. The route offered on Wednesday by budget experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, or CSIS, calls for moving $10 billion from the procurement budget and “force structure,” (military jargon for the number of people in the military and all that is required to support them, roughly) and giving those funds to investments. The CSIS plan would increase the number of attack submarines at sea, significantly ramp-up surveillance in both air and space, and emphasize select ground troops like special operations forces and heavy infantry. The costs would be absorbed by a reduction in aircraft carriers, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and the Air Force’s shorter-range aircraft. Continue reading
Secret initiative planned to train rebels to fight the Assad government a year later by marching on Damascus, a BBC Newsnight investigation discloses
Britain planned to train and equip 100,000 Syrian rebels for a shock and awe campaign to defeat President Bashar al-Assad.
General David Richards, who was then the UK’s most senior military officer, drew up the plans two years ago, according to the BBC’s Newsnight. Continue reading
If ISIS attacks Jordan, neither the United States nor Israel will be able to stay out of the fray
There is a Sarajevo somewhere in Jordan. It lies well outside Amman, somewhere in the hostile terrain to the east or the north. Were the armed ISIS extremists — who now call themselves representatives of the Islamic State and soldiers of the new caliphate — to cross this line, the current conflict that engulfs Syria and Iraq would likely explode and grow more complex and costly by quantum degrees. This is not the sort of red line that is the product of an ill-considered, halfhearted burst of presidential bravado. This is the type of red line that triggers historic change and is worth considering as we mark the epoch-making events in Sarajevo that spawned World War I 100 years ago.
For now, the wars in Syria and Iraq seem almost to be inviting the United States to remain more or less on the sidelines. Once an amorphous mess, it has seemed to take on something of a shape and symmetry. In both countries today, alliances featuring the ruling governments working in collaboration with Iran and Russia are taking on the extremists. With the announcement this weekend of Russian planes and munitions being shipped to the government in Baghdad, the orchestrated bombings last week of ISIS targets by Syrian jets in Iraq, and the active role of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in both places, it almost seems like a traditional conflict with two sides vying against one another.
Further, with Moscow and Tehran willing to take up the fight against ISIS, it might be tempting for Washington to effectively sit this one out. After all, if the United States wants promises of political reform and the Iranians and Russians clearly don’t require it to intervene, the Iraqis will be even harder for America to deal with. Intransigent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki may simply opt for the support of Tehran and Moscow, as well as a tacit alliance with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, avoiding the hard work of creating a truly representative Iraqi government — which also happens to be the most self-serving possible choice. Unfortunately, for the world, the route of “letting others fight our battles for us” might be “easier” — but it’s exceptionally dangerous. Continue reading
LONDON — The extremist Sunni jihadist group that declared a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq has seized control of one of Syria’s most important oilfields after fighters from other factions switched their allegiance to support it.
In a crucial strategic advance for the Islamic State (IS), the organization that is tearing Iraq apart, anti-government rebels in Syria who had been loyal to the rival Jabhat al-Nusra switched sides, handing over Al-Omar oilfield, which has the potential to produce up to 75,000 barrels of oil a day.
The development represents a huge step up for the group — formerly known as the Islamic State of Syria & Al-Sham (ISIS) — in its struggle against Al-Nusra, which is backed by Al-Qaeda but regards the new grouping as dangerously extremist.
This means its caliphate now stretches from Deir al-Zour, central Syria, to Abukamel on the Iraqi border. Within neighbouring Iraq, to the east, it holds the cities of Mosul and Tikrit, has free rein in Anbar province and is threatening to attack Baghdad. Continue reading
“There are so many sleeper cells in Baghdad,” a high-level security official told Reuters on Thursday. “They will seize an area and won’t let anyone take it back… In western Baghdad, they are ready and prepared.”
The officer told the news agency that there are roughly 1,500 sleeper cell members inside Baghdad and another 1,000 just outside the capital. Continue reading
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi wasn’t joking when he said “I’ll see you in New York“, either.
A former NATO commander warned Monday that it was “only a matter of time” before a Sunni insurgent group that has captured parts of Iraq and Syria turns its attention to attacks in Europe.
Retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis urged U.S. and European allies to do more to prevent jihadists with western passports from returning home to stage terror attacks.
“As [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS consolidates its position across the Syrian and Iraqi divide, NATO must realize that it is only a matter of time before a wave of EU-passport-bearing jihadists will be headed back home to wreak havoc,” Stavridis said in an op-ed for the Atlantic Council.”Those AK-toting fundamentalists are a bit busy at the moment destroying two Shiite/Alawite regimes in Iraq and Syria, respectively, but the eye of Sunni extremism will inevitably turn its attention to the capitals of Europe,” he wrote. Continue reading