While European security officials were distracted by seemingly low level lone wolf attacks, the New York Times reports, ISIS terrorists were steadily infiltrating the continent and setting up what would become the attacks in Paris and Brussels. The supposed lone wolf attacks, in fact, were purposely done as a smoke screen to distract investigators, and succeeded in doing so while the other more deadly attacks were being set up. These facts were confirmed before the Brussels and Paris attacks took place, as arrested terrorists revealed the bare bones of such plots during interrogations. Yet the security of ISIS itself was well organized enough to prevent the disclosure of key information, for the arrested plotters did not know the specifics in regard to where and when the attacks would take place. French speaking nationals were the key participants that ISIS recruited, along with French speaking terrorists from countries formerly occupied by France, such as Algeria and Morocco. These men were trained in Syria to fire machine guns and throw grenades, techniques that would later be so deadly in the Paris attacks. Other men became experts in how to construct deadly bombs from common household chemicals, and such bombs were quite deadly in the carnage of the Brussels attacks. It is now known, the Times reports, how these men infiltrated Europe via Turkey and Greece, amidst the thousands of other supposed Syrian refugees from the chaos of terror in the Middle East.
The Syrian Army, backed by the Russian Air Force, has retaken the town of Qaryatain, finding ancient Christian relics blown to bits and infested with mines, CBS News reports. Formerly a prospering Syrian city with tens of thousands of Christians, the city has become a wasteland, as many residents have fled or died during the cruel occupation of ISIS. A monastery that formerly attracted Christian pilgrimages was bulldozed to rubble by ISIS, and the city’s infrastructure, such as government buildings and electric cables, have also been destroyed. A prominent priest was held captive for months by the terrorist organization, and what few Christians remained in the city during the occupation had to sign pledges to pay exorbitant taxes to support ISIS. One Syrian soldier voiced his contempt for ISIS, alleging that they are supported by President Erdogan of Turkey and other gulf states, referring the the money from Saudi Arabia and other nations that support the radical Islamic Mosques. It appears, as the Syrian assault on ISIS continues, that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s wish might come true. He asserted that it was best to let the Russians take care of ISIS, and by backing the Syrian Army, it appears that they are in the process of doing so.
The Syrian Army, backed by Russian air power, has knocked ISIS out of Palmyra, but the damage to the city’s historical sites has been grave. Four hundred residents were killed during the occupation, Reuters news reports, and a mass grave for forty of them has been found beside the relics. The grave contains mostly women and children, some of whom had been beheaded and/or tortured. Archaeologists are surveying the damage to the historical ruins of the city, finding some sites irrevocably damaged and others that might be restored to their former glory, National Public Radio reports. Many analysts had feared that the attacks to retake Palmyra would be as damaging to the city as was the occupation of ISIS, but such, they were happy to find, was not the case. Apparently the Russian Air Force was able to target its attacks so as to not damage the ruins, most of which are from the Roman occupation of the city over 1500 years ago.
The Florida born college dropout appears in a video promoting the cause of Allah, but his appearance is post-mortem, as the young man died in a suicide truck bombing in Syria, the Daily News reports. Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha’s video starts with pictures of him in several poses, one of them cuddling a cat, which would seem to indicate that he has a gentle nature, but a later picture shows him wearing a suicide vest. With Muslim music being chanted in the background, he then gleefully tears up and burns his American passport, pointing vengefully to the American flag that is printed on it before setting it ablaze. He then launches into a lengthy harangue which shows that the young man has become enmeshed in the dictates of radical Islam, for in one part he castigates those Muslims who think that the normal rituals of the faith are far from enough to make them part of Allah’s vision. Most discomforting to Americans, however, are his threats to his native country, as he announces that “We are coming for you,” and Americans cannot rest easy that troops abroad will protect them from attack. “Mark my words,” he declares, and asserts that Allah owns America, not Americans, and that the arrogance of this country will be struck down. While growing up in Florida he friends shortened his name to Mo, but Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha tried to recruit his American friends to join the radical jihad before he returned to Syria to embark on his suicide mission, according to NBC News. The video, which is his last will and testament, contends that he was never happy in America, and that the attacks of the jihad he is part of will kill the not so powerful America and send them to the hell fire of Allah.
The Syrian Army, backed by the Russian Air Force, is gradually taking ground closer and closer to Raqqa, the city that ISIS has declared is the capital of its supposed Caliphate. This attack could bring about a conflict with other powers who have proposed to send troops to liberate Raqqa, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Those two nations have, like the United States, supported the overthrow of the Syrian Regime of Bashar al-Assad, and Saudi Arabia has recently made statements that it would be willing to send troops, in conjunction with Turkey, to attack ISIS in Raqqa. The Syrians, however, are supported by Russia and Iran, and the use of their combined power to knock ISIS out of Raqqa would be a devastating blow for ISIS. Most analysts have concluded that Russia has made little effort to attack ISIS in Syria, but are there primarily to support the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Assad, however, is currently making statements that he intends to retake control of his entire nation, despite the fact that it might take a long time to do so. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State under Richard Nixon, contends that, as conditions now stand, the best way to get rid of ISIS might be to let the Russians do it. In least in the Syrian theater, it appears that such might be the case, whether other countries like it or not. (Independent Story)
This former assistant to the infamous Jihadi John grew up in a London neighborhood where he rooted for the local soccer team and, by his own admission, was as British as they come. A failed marriage and children with a Muslim woman and deep involvement in a British Mosque were parts of Alexanda Kotey’s transformation to becoming a radical Muslim, as he became a stranger to his own parents who were bitterly disappointed in the young man’s conversion. George Galloway, a formerly controversial member of Parliament, cobbled together a supposed humanitarian trip to the Middle East to help the Palestinians, of which Kotey was a part. British Intelligence did not see it that way, however, and broke up the failed effort, though none of the participants were ever charged. Along with Jihadi John, Kotey was a member of the four Brits that became known as the Beatles, who oddly were described by former hostages as being the most cruel of their captors in the Middle East. The beat them and used waterboarding, as well as subjecting them to mock executions, and one hostage described how he was kicked in the ribs twenty five times to celebrate his twenty-fifth birthday. It is not clear if Kotey is still alive, though Jihadi John was killed by a drone strike near Raqqa last year. Washington Post
Aiden Aslin fought against ISIS with the Kurdish forces, who are internationally renowned for their military strikes against ISIS. British Authorities have doubts about the truth of his stories, aparently, as Aslin was arrested and held for thirty hours before he was freed, the Daily Mail reports. Aslin told stories of driving in a makeshift armored tank while attacking ISIS with the Kurds near Mr. Sinjar, where the persecuted Yazidis have had to flee with the advance of the dreaded terrorist group. He had high praise for British Air Strikes, which Aslin contends are an essential part of military advancement to defeat ISIS. Aslin’s family where very disappointed about his arrest, and felt it inhumane that the young man was unable to immediately reunite with the next of kin who had been so anxious for his return. The young veteran has another appearance scheduled in court, however, and it seems apparent that the British government is determined to have a full investigation to make sure that he was not going to the Middle East to support ISIS, as many British nationals have.
In coordination with Turkey, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announces, feeling that there is a need for troops on the ground to combat the volatile terrorist organization. Both countries want to depose the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, putting them at odds with Russia, who have inserted military forces over the past year to shore up his defenses. Some in the West have hoped that Russia might take on ISIS more aggressively, but they have stuck primarily to air strikes, some of which have targeted forces supported by Turkey and the United States. The US has also proposed that Assad be overthrown, but reached an agreement with Russia when Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to help Syria eliminate its cache of chemical weapons. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has long been engaged in a fight against ISIS in Yemen, which is much closer to their Kingdom, alongside their southern border. Noting progress in that arena, Saudi Arabia contends that they are ready to put troops on the ground to confront ISIS in Syria, presumably, in coordination with Turkey, to eliminate Assad, who has long been criticized as a cruel and dictatorial ruler. It is unclear at this time whether such troops would be attacked by the Russian Air Force if they tried to attack Assad. There has already been a dispute between Russia and Turkey about the Turkish downing of a Russian plane who was attacking Turkish supported forces along the Turkish border. Turkey contended that the plane was inside Turkish airspace, an allegation that the Russians vigorously dispute. Saudi Arabia has recently been very disappointed with the United States for negotiating a treaty with Iran that, in their opinion, makes it much easier for their enemy, Iran, to acquire nuclear weapons. (Guardian Article)
“Voice of the Caliphate” is mute since being bombed out of existence by American war planes, Fox News reports. The station was mobile, in the volatile region near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and broadcast invitations to join the ranks of ISIS, as well as threatening journalists across the region. The Taliban, another radical Islamic group, have long been established in Afghanistan, and ruled the country in the 1990s, giving refuge to Al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden. They have a different focus than ISIS, however, and have been engaged in skirmishes with their fellow extremist group, who have a far more global objective in their radical agenda. Twenty one people were killed in the airstrike, of whom five were operators of the fugitive radio station. Since electronic communication in Afghanistan is relatively primitive by Western Standards, radio is a key mode of communication, and there are approximately 175 radio stations across the country. American intelligence will certainly be on the look out for another fledgling Islamic station to sprout up in the region, which they will presumably bomb into obliteration as they did with the first one.
He endured lengthy solitary confinement without any clothes or reading material, and was beaten by Iranian guards when he wouldn’t cooperate, Fox News reports. Saeed Abedini was especially surprised by certain events at the trial that put him in prison where, it appeared, the Judge did not especially care for him. When he was accused of wanting to take down the Iranian government through religion, Abedini denied that such was the case, and that he merely had a desire to help widows, orphans and other unfortunates. He then explained that he would pray for the Judge, and the Judge chose to scream at him. It seems that the Judge was especially contemptuous of Abedini’s supposed desire for good will. Abedini was told repeatedly that he would be killed, and regularly witnessed the hangings of Sunni Muslims, executions that his captors forced him to witness. Iran is a Shiite Muslim state, a religious sect that has a lengthy history of hatred and war with Sunni Muslims. For a time Abedini was imprisoned with former American Marine Amir Hekmati, who he witnessed getting similar brutal treatment to that which he faced. He attempted to help comfort Hekmati with prayer, asserting that such devotion was the main thing he could accomplish during his stay in the repressive Iranian State.