Author Archive: mrdsk

Obama to Hollande: Stay the course against Russia

Michael Crowley reports for Politico:

obama_francois_hollande_AP.jpgWhen President Barack Obama hosts French President François Hollande on Tuesday, he’ll have more on his agenda than demonstrating solidarity against terrorism. He’ll also be working to make sure Hollande sticks with the international effort to punish and isolate Vladimir Putin for his aggression in Ukraine.

Privately, Obama officials say they are concerned about whether key European leaders are prepared to extend sanctions on Moscow, which expire in late January. And they are wary of any effort by Putin — who will host Hollande in Moscow later this week — to link events in Syria and Ukraine. The fear is that Putin might try to trade more aggressive Russian action against the Islamic State for France’s backing in reducing or ending the sanctions.

A premature end to sanctions in Europe “is always our worry,” said Evelyn Farkas, who served until last month as the Pentagon’s top official for Russia and Ukraine. “They can’t back away from sanctions. Ukraine is a separate situation” from Syria.


Frankie Boyle: This is the worst time for society to go on psychopathic autopilot

Comedian Frankie Boyle writes for The Guardian:

There were a lot of tributes after the horror in Paris. It has to be said that Trafalgar Square is an odd choice of venue to show solidarity with France; presumably Waterloo was too busy. One of the most appropriate tributes was Adele dedicating Hometown Glory to Paris, just as the raids on St-Denis started. A song about south London where, 10 years ago, armed police decided to hysterically blow the face off a man just because he was a bit beige.

In times of crisis, we are made to feel we should scrutinise our government’s actions less closely, when surely that’s when we should pay closest attention. There’s a feeling that after an atrocity history and context become less relevant, when surely these are actually the worst times for a society to go on psychopathic autopilot. Our attitudes are fostered by a society built on ideas of dominance, where the solution to crises are force and action, rather than reflection and compromise.

If that sounds unbearably drippy, just humour me for a second and imagine a country where the response to Paris involved an urgent debate about how to make public spaces safer and marginalised groups less vulnerable to radicalisation. Do you honestly feel safer with a debate centred around when we can turn some desert town 3,000 miles away into a sheet of glass? Of course, it’s not as if the west hasn’t learned any lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan. This time round, no one’s said out loud that we’re going to win.


No, Turkey shooting down a Russian warplane will not spark World War III

Max Fisher writes for Vox:

Only three short hours of Turkey announcing it had shot down a Russian warplane for violating its airspace, an unusual phrase appeared as a new trending topic on Twitter: “World War 3.” The conversation is both joking and not joking.

You can see why people might worry. Turkey is a NATO ally, meaning that at least in theory the other members of NATO — the United States and most of Europe — can be obliged to come to its defense against an external attack. A theoretical slide into conflict between Turkey and Russia could thus also become a conflict between Russia and NATO, dragging the world’s top four nuclear powers into war. Tensions between NATO and Russia have been rising for two years, and now both are bombing on opposite sides in Syria. With fears of some unintended escalation in Ukraine or now Syria sparking a larger conflagration, it sounded scarily possible.

But I am here to reassure you: This is not the start of World War III.


The Emirati Plan for Ruling Egypt

David Hearst reports for Middle East Eye:

A top-secret strategy document prepared for Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan reveals that the United Arab Emirates is losing faith in the ability of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to serve the Gulf state’s interests.

The document, prepared by one of Bin Zayed’s team and dated 12 October, contains two key quotes which describe the frustration bin Zayed feels about Sisi, whose military coup the Crown Prince bankrolled, pouring in billions of dollars along with Saudi Arabia. It says: “This guy needs to know that I am not an ATM machine.” Further on, it also reveals the political price the Emiratis will exact if they continue to fund Egypt.

Future strategy should be based on not just attempting to influence the government in Egypt but to control it. It is summarised thus: “Now I will give but under my conditions. If I give, I rule.”

Egypt, which has recently tried to stem a run on the Egyptian pound, is heavily dependent on cash from the Emirates, which have become the largest foreign direct investor. At an economic conference in Sharm el-Sheikh in March, the prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, revealed the UAE had already given Egypt $13.9bn and he pledged $3.9bn more. The real amount of aid Sisi got from the Emiratis is thought by analysts to be closer to $25bn, around half of the total Gulf aid to Egypt.


Iran’s ‘Deep State’ Has the Most to Lose from Opening to the West

Editor’s Note: You can listen to a recent interview with Muhammad Sahimi discussing the below article here.

Muhammad Sahimi writes for The National Interest:

The comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and P5+1 – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – was signed on July 14. A few days later the United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 2231 endorsing it. October 18 was the “adoption day” of the agreement, the day both sides began laying the legal groundwork for carrying out their obligations under the agreement. In particular, the European Union and the United States began the legal process to lift the economic sanctions against Iran.

Led by President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s moderates and pragmatists have been trying to open their country’s gates to the outside world. Believing that the shadow of war has been lifted, they are trying to attract foreign investments, normalize Iran’s relations with the West and in particular the United States, and move the nation’s political system toward a more inclusive and open one.

But, Iran’s deep state – the security and intelligence forces and their hardline supporters that hide behind the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – does not want normalization of the relations with the West. While it does want lifting of the economic sanctions imposed on Iran, it also abhors opening Iran to the world. The reason is clear: normalization of the political and economic ties with the West will lead to loosening of the deep state’s grip on political power. Loss of political power will inevitably lead to the loss of economic might and privileges that the deep state and its supporters enjoy.


America’s ‘Establishment’ Has Embraced ‘Deep States’

Philip Giraldi, a former military intelligence and CIA case officer, writes for the New York Times:

Citizens in many countries wonder how certain government policies can persist in spite of widespread popular opposition or clear perceptions that they are harmful. This persistence is frequently attributed to a “deep state.”

The phrase is often applied to Turkey, where the nation’s security services and governing elite pursue the same chauvinistic and inward-looking agenda no matter who is prime minister.

But every country has a deep state of some kind. “The Establishment,” as it’s been called in the United States, where it evolved from the Washington-New York axis of national security officials and financial services executives. They are said to know what is “best” for the country and to act accordingly, no matter who sits in the White House.


Quietly, Guam is slated to become massive new U.S. military base

Adam Ashton reports for McClatchy:

Thousands of Marines will land on this island sometime in the next few years, and their first steps will fall on a sturdy-as-granite pier in a sheltered Pacific harbor newly rebuilt to carry wave after wave of tank-driving troops.

“We’re ready for them,” said Cmdr. David Ellis, the executive officer at a Navy base that’s been swelling with military construction projects to prepare for the new troops.

What’s less certain is what the Marines will do when they get here.

This U.S. territory in the Western Pacific, long a way station for passing jets and submarines, is about to become a hub for a force of 4,800 Marines who’ll be charged with readying for war and disasters in East Asia.

The trouble is the Pentagon has not yet persuaded two nearby islands to accept a proposal that would give the Marines a space to train during their Pacific patrols. And some are suggesting, subtly, that it may be difficult to station so many military service members on Guam if they cannot train nearby.


 Will Paris Melt the New US-Russian Cold War? Interview with Stephen Cohen

Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussion of the new East-West Cold War. Accelerating a trend already evident as a result of the Syrian crisis, according to Cohen, the savage terrorist acts on Paris almost immediately resulted in a French-Russian military alliance against the Islamic State in Syria, with French President Hollande and most of Europe dramatically breaking with the Obama Administration’s nearly two-year-old policy of “isolating Putin’s Russia” over the Ukrainian crisis. (The Nation)

The Koch Intelligence Agency

Kenneth P. Vogel, author of Big Money, reports for Politico:

The political network helmed by Charles and David Koch has quietly built a secretive operation that conducts surveillance and intelligence gathering on its liberal opponents, viewing it as a key strategic tool in its efforts to reshape American public life.

The operation, which is little-known even within the Koch network, gathers what Koch insiders refer to as “competitive intelligence” that is used to try to thwart liberal groups and activists, and to identify potential threats to the expansive network.

The competitive intelligence team has a staff of 25, including one former CIA analyst, and operates from one of the non-descript Koch network offices clustered near the Courthouse metro stop in suburban Arlington, Va. It has provided network officials with documents detailing confidential voter-mobilization plans by major Democrat-aligned groups. It also sends regular “intelligence briefing” emails tracking the canvassing, phone-banking and voter-registration efforts of labor unions, environmental groups and their allies, according to documents reviewed by POLITICO and interviews with a half-dozen sources with knowledge of the group.


Air Force Whistleblowers Risk Prosecution to Warn Drone War Kills Civilians, Fuels Terror: Interview with Former Drone Operators

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to four former U.S. Air Force members and drone whistleblowers. Brandon Bryant, Michael Haas, Stephen Lewis and Cian Westmoreland are also joined by Jesselyn Raddack of the Government Accountability Project. The interview took place as a new documentary, DRONE, was scheduled to be screened in New York. (Democracy Now!)

From Console to Trigger: How the Pentagon “Exploits” Video Game Culture to Wire Youth for War

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman talk to Tonje Hessen Schei, director of a new documentary film titled Drone, and former drone pilots including Brandon Bryant. After airing a clip from the documentary, they discuss the connection between video games and military recruitment. Bryant says: “I think gamers should be offended that the military and the government are using to manipulate and recruit. We’re more interconnected now than at any time in human history — and that’s being exploited to help people kill one another.” (Democracy Now!)

The Origins of Boko Haram

John Ford wrote in 2014 for The National Interest:

Boko Haram appeared in the consciousness of most Westerners for the first time in April [2014]. But the group is not a new arrival on the scene. It has been a growing force in Nigeria for over a decade and has deep roots in the country’s social development going back even further. Its rise is not an accident and signals the emergence of a dangerous, militant religious movement that threatens Nigeria’s survival as a nation-state.

Boko Haram’s story begins with a preacher named Mohammed Marwa, born in 1927. At about age eighteen, he moved to Kano, in what is today northern Nigeria, and began a career as a preacher. His sermons were extreme and often bizarre. He raged against Western culture and its popularity in Nigeria so virulently that he became known as Maitatsine, meaning “The one who damns.” He declared that reading any book other than the Koran was sinful and a sign of paganism. This included a prohibition on reading the Hadiths or Sunnah, the doctrinal equivalent of a Catholic Priest telling parishioners not to read the works of St. Augustine because they do not appear in the Bible. Near the end of his life, he came dangerously close to declaring that he, not Muhammad, was Allah’s true prophet.

At first, Maitatsine was ignored by Nigeria’s political leaders, but as his sermons became increasingly antigovernment in the late 1970s, the government cracked down. The crackdown culminated in an uprising in 1980, where Maitatsine’s followers in Kano began rioting against the government. The city descended into what scholar Elizabeth Isichei described as “virtually civil war.” The death toll from the 1982 riots and subsequent military crackdown was over 4,000 and Maitatsine himself was among those killed.


Boko Haram Ranked Ahead of ISIS as World’s Deadliest Terror Group

Dionne Searcey and Marc Santora report for The New York Times:

As much of the world remains focused on the Islamic State and its horrific attacks in Paris, another radical band of extremists has, by one account, captured the infamous title of the world’s deadliest terrorist group: Boko Haram.

Boko Haram, the militant group that has tortured Nigeria and its neighbors for years, was responsible for 6,664 deaths last year, more than any other terrorist group in the world, including the Islamic State, which killed 6,073 people in 2014, according to a report released Wednesday tracking terrorist attacks globally.

[…] Boko Haram has pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State, but it is unclear what support the group is giving Boko Haram beyond assisting with publicity.

The report released Wednesday, from the Institute of Economics & Peace, said the Islamic State and Boko Haram were responsible for half of all global deaths attributed to terrorism.

Last year, the deaths attributed to Boko Haram alone increased by more than 300 percent, the report said.

The report found a drastic increase in terrorist attacks last year, with the majority occurring in three countries: Iraq, Syria and Nigeria, where other militant groups besides Boko Haram operate.


Mali hotel attack “puts Al-Qaeda back on the map in the competition against ISIS”

In Mali and Rest of Africa, the U.S. Military Fights a Hidden War

Nick Turse reports for The Intercept:

The General leading the U.S. military’s hidden war in Africa says the continent is now home to nearly 50 terrorist organizations and “illicit groups” that threaten U.S. interests. And today, gunmen reportedly yelling “Allahu Akbar” stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital and seized several dozen hostages. U.S. special operations forces are “currently assisting hostage recovery efforts,” a Pentagon spokesperson said, and U.S. personnel have “helped move civilians to secured locations, as Malian forces clear the hotel of hostile gunmen.”

In Mali, groups like Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa have long posed a threat. Major terrorist groups in Africa include al Shabaab, Boko Haram and al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM). In the wake of the Paris attacks by ISIS, attention has been drawn to ISIS affiliates in Egypt and Libya, too. But what are the dozens of other groups in Africa that the Pentagon is fighting with more special operations forces, more outposts, and more missions than ever?

For the most part, the Pentagon won’t say.

[…] The secret of whom the U.S. military is fighting extends to Africa. Since 9/11, U.S. military efforts on the continent have grown in every conceivable way, from funding and manpower to missions and outposts, while at the same time the number of transnational terror groups has increased in linear fashion, according to the military. The reasons for this are murky. Is it a spillover from events in the Middle East and Central Asia? Are U.S. operations helping to spawn and spread terror groups? Is the Pentagon inflating the terror threat for its own gain? Is the rise of these terrorist organizations due to myriad local factors? Or more likely, is it a combination of these and other reasons? The task of answering these questions is made more difficult when no one in the military is willing to name more than a handful of the transnational terror groups that are classified as America’s enemies.


How US-Backed Intervention in Libya Spread Chaos to Nearby Mali: Interview with Nick Turse

Amy Goodman speak to Nick Turse, author of Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa and journalist for TomDispatch and The Intercept. This interview with Turse was recorded earlier in November with the segment on Mali republished in light of the hostage crisis in Bamako, Mali. (Democracy Now!)

Glenn Greenwald on “Shameless” U.S. Officials Exploiting Paris Attacks, “Submissive” Media’s Drumbeat for War and “Despicable” Anti-Muslim Scapegoating

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh talks to Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, the Pulitzer-winning journalist who exposed NSA mass surveillance based on Snowden’s leaks. Greenwald discusses the Paris attacks and the response by U.S. officials and how the media has covered the events since 13th November. (Democracy Now!)

Europe Is Harbouring The Islamic State’s Backers

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Insurge Intelligence:

[…] The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance.

Mass surveillance at home and endless military projection abroad are the twin sides of the same coin of national security, which must simply be maximized as much as possible.

“France is at war,” Hollande told French parliament at the Palace of Versailles.

“We’re not engaged in a war of civilizations, because these assassins do not represent any. We are in a war against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world.”

Conspicuously missing from President Hollande’s decisive declaration of war however, was any mention of the biggest elephant in the room: state-sponsorship.


It’s True, Media Did Cover Beirut Bombings–About 1/40th as Much as They Covered Paris Attacks

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

New York Times front page: Paris attacksMax Fisher takes issue in Vox (11/16/15) with people who complain about the lack of media coverage of ISIS’s bombings in Beirut compared to its attacks in Paris:

The media has, in fact, covered the Beirut bombings extensively.

The New York Timescovered it. The Washington Post, in addition to running an Associated Press story on it, sent reporter Hugh Naylor to cover the blasts and then write a lengthy piece on their aftermath. The Economist had a thoughtful piece reflecting on the attack’s significance. CNN, which rightly or wrongly has a reputation for least-common-denominator news judgment, aired one segment after another on the Beirut bombings. Even the Daily Mail, a British tabloid most known for its gossipy royals coverage, was on the story. And on and on.

Yet these are stories that, like so many stories of previous bombings and mass acts of violence outside of the West, readers have largely ignored.

Let’s grant Fisher one point: The much-retweeted Twitter complaint that “no media has covered” the Beirut bombing is wrong—as is most media criticism that asserts that “no media” did anything.

But Fisher’s overarching argument—that because “the media does cover Beirut,” it’s wrong to blame media for the fact that “the world truly does care more about France”—is equally absurd.


Coverage of Russian Plane Bombing Shows What a Difference an Enemy Makes

Jim Naureckas writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Vladimir Putin (photo: Alexei Nikolsky via AP/US News)FAIR (11/13/15, 11/16/15,11/17/15) has noted the contrast between US media coverage of Paris and Beirut after the militant ISIS movement claimed responsibility for terror attacks in both cities. It may be even more illuminating to look at media reactions to another ISIS-claimed disaster, the bombing of Metrojet Flight 9268, a Russian tourist plane that went down over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on October 31, killing all 217 people on board. When the victims of terror come from an official enemy state, it’s clear that different media rules apply.

Before it was determined that a bomb caused the crash, Associated Press‘s Jim Heintz (11/7/15) wrote a speculative piece that began, “No matter what caused the fatal crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt, the answer will almost certainly hit Russia hard—but not President Vladimir Putin.” Whether it was terrorism or mechanical failure, Heintz wrote, “Either answer could challenge Russia’s new self-confidence—but could also be used by Putin to advance his aims and reinforce his power.”

Needless to say, we’re not seeing a lot of coverage of how France’s François Hollande could use the Paris attacks “to advance his aims and reinforce his power.”

While US outlets were circumspect to the point of being unintelligible in drawing a connection between France’s war against ISIS in Syria/Iraq and the Paris attacks, AP had no trouble making it clear that Russia had been targeted not because of its values or symbols but because of its military attacks against a violent adversary: “A faction of the militant Islamic State group claimed it had downed the airliner in retaliation for Russia launching airstrikes on IS positions in Syria a month earlier.”


From Paris to Boston, Terrorists Were Already Known to Authorities

map-3Ryan Gallagher reports for The Intercept:

Whenever a terrorist attack occurs, it never takes long for politicians to begin calling for more surveillance powers. The horrendous attacks in Paris last week, which left more than 120 people dead, are no exception to this rule. In recent days, officials in the United Kingdom and the United States have been among those arguing that more surveillance of Internet communications is necessary to prevent further atrocities.

The case for expanded surveillance of communications, however, is complicated by an analysis of recent terrorist attacks. The Intercept has reviewed 10 high-profile jihadi attacks carried out in Western countries between 2013 and 2015 (see below), and in each case some or all of the perpetrators were already known to the authorities before they executed their plot. In other words, most of the terrorists involved were not ghost operatives who sprang from nowhere to commit their crimes; they were already viewed as a potential threat, yet were not subjected to sufficient scrutiny by authorities under existing counterterrorism powers. Some of those involved in last week’s Paris massacre, for instance, were already known to authorities; at least three of the men appear to have been flagged at different times as having been radicalized, but warning signs were ignored.

In the aftermath of a terrorist atrocity, government officials often seem to talk about surveillance as if it were some sort of panacea, a silver bullet. But what they always fail to explain is how, even with mass surveillance systems already in place in countries like France, the United States, and the United Kingdom, attacks still happen. In reality, it is only possible to watch some of the people some of the time, not all of the people all of the time. Even if you had every single person in the world under constant electronic surveillance, you would still need a human being to analyze the data and assess any threats in a timely fashion. And human resources are limited and fallible.

There is no doubt that we live in a dangerous world and that intelligence agencies and the police have a difficult job to do, particularly in the current geopolitical environment. They know about hundreds or thousands of individuals who sympathize with terrorist groups, any one of whom may be plotting an attack, yet they do not appear to have the means to monitor each of these people closely over sustained periods of time. If any lesson can be learned from studying the perpetrators of recent attacks, it is that there needs to be a greater investment in conducting targeted surveillance of known terror suspects and a move away from the constant knee-jerk expansion of dragnet surveillance, which has simply not proven itself to be effective, regardless of the debate about whether it is legal or ethical in the first place.


Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Sole Voter Against Unlimited War After 9/11, Demands Debate on New Military Action

Amy Goodman speaks to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who fourteen years ago cast the sole dissenting vote three days after 9/11 against the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and the Authorisation for Military Force (AUMF). On 14th September 2001, Lee said: “Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say let’s step back for a moment. Let’s just pause just for a minute and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control.” Today she is calling on Congress to repeal the Authorizations for Military Force, saying they have been used as blank checks for endless war. (Democracy Now!)

Islamic State Sustains Itself Through a War Economy: Interview with Loretta Napoleoni

Sharmini Peries talks to Loretta Napoleoni, an economist who specialises in terror financing and the author of Islamic Phoenix. They discuss how the Islamic State is sustains itself. (The Real News)

How the U.S. and Saudi Arabia Aided Growth of the Islamic State: Interview with Abdel Bari Atwan

Amy Goodman speaks to Abdel Bari Atwan, a longtime journalist and the author of Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate. (Democracy Now!)

Obama’s drone war a ‘recruitment tool’ for ISIS, say US air force whistleblowers

Ed Pilkington and Ewen MacAskill report for The Guardian:

A Yemeni man looks at graffiti showing a US drone after al-Qaida in Yemen confirmed the death of its leader in a US drone strike in June.Four former US air force service members, with more than 20 years of experience between them operating military drones, have written an open letter to Barack Obama warning that the program of targeted killings by unmanned aircraft has become a major driving force for Isis and other terrorist groups.

The group of servicemen have issued an impassioned plea to the Obama administration, calling for a rethink of a military tactic that they say has “fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like Isis, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantánamo Bay”.

In particular, they argue, the killing of innocent civilians in drone airstrikes has acted as one of the most “devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world”.

The letter, addressed to Obama, defense secretary Ashton Carter and CIA chiefJohn Brennan, links the signatories’ anxieties directly to last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris. They imply that the abuse of the drone program is causally connected to the outrages.


U.S. Military Leaders Dubious of Bigger War Against ISIS

Bryan Bender reports for Politico:

151117_military_gty_1160.jpgU.S. military leaders are skeptical about calls for escalating the war against the Islamic State, saying they have watched too many of their troops’ hard-won victories slip away amid civilian inattention in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even as U.S. and allied aircraft step up their bombing campaign against the terrorist group after Friday’s attacks in Paris, senior military officials privately express worries that political leaders in Washington and foreign capitals still haven’t absorbed the lessons of America’s last two big wars. In both cases, the military defeated the Taliban, Saddam Hussein’s regime and the Iraqi insurgents, but civilian leadership failed to do the political, economic and diplomatic heavy-lifting needed to sustain those wins.

The same thing could happen again in the fight against ISIL, the military officials say, unless far more is done to train and arm local allies, beef up the State Department’s capacity to assist foreign allies to improve governing structures, counter the terrorist group’s message in mosques and in social media and employ much more international leverage to end the Syrian civil war. Otherwise, the growing pressure to strike back hard against ISIL will mean that guns and bombs once again get far more attention and resources than the other levers of power that would ultimately prove more consequential.

The military officials say these concerns are behind President Barack Obama’s refusal to launch a more expansive military operation that includes American ground troops against the terrorists.


Could Islamic State Be Strengthened by U.S., French, Russian Bombing? Interview with Abdel Bari Atwan

Amy Goodman speaks to Abdel Bari Atwan, a longtime journalist and the author of Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate. (Democracy Now!)

ISIS says Russia targeted over Syria campaign, shows alleged Sinai jet ‘bomb’

RT reports:

Embedded image permalinkAn image of alleged parts of a “bomb” used to take down a Russian passenger plane over Egypt’s Sinai, killing all 224 people onboard, was posted by Islamic State’s magazine.

A soft drink can and what appeared to be a detonator and switch allegedly made up the parts of an improvised homemade bomb, a photo published online on Wednesday by Dabiq magazine suggests.

Another photograph showed passports said to belong to Russian passengers killed in the bombing, with the documents allegedly obtained by Islamic fighters.

The authenticity of the images has not been verified.

On Tuesday, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced that a terrorist attack caused the A321 plane en route to St. Petersburg to crash in Sinai. Traces of explosives have been found in the wreckage, which included passengers’ belongings and parts of the plane.


Strikes on Raqqa in Syria Lead to More Questions Than Results

Anne Barnard reports for The New York Times:

First France and then Russia answered Islamic State attacks on their citizens with a strategy of direct reprisal: intensified airstrike campaigns on Raqqa, the militants’ de facto capital within Syria, meant to eliminate the group’s leadership and resources.

But on Tuesday in the early hours of those new campaigns, there seemed to be more questions than decisive results. Chief among them: Why, if there were confirmed Islamic State targets that could be hit without killing civilians, were they not hit more heavily long ago? And what, in fact, was being hit?

More broadly, the Raqqa airstrikes are renewing a debate about how effective such attacks can be in defeating or containing the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, without more commitment to measures like drying up its financial support, combating its ideology or — what outside forces on all sides so far appear to have ruled out — conducting a ground assault.

Several people in Lebanon, Syria and Turkey who have been able to make contact with relatives in Raqqa say the recent French airstrikes — a barrage of about 30 on Sunday night and seven more on Monday — did not kill any civilians. But neither did they inflict serious military damage, those people said, instead hitting empty areas or buildings, or parts of the territory of factory complexes or military bases used by the Islamic State.


French Intelligence Guessed Wrong on ISIS Attack, Predicting Wrong Date

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

With intelligence coming out of Iraq, Israel, and Turkey leading to the conclusion that an attack on Paris was imminent, French intelligence services dropped the ball on stopping the strikes against the city Friday. It wasn’t inattention, however, they just got the date wrong.

French officials appear to have been virtually unanimously convinced that the ISIS plot was going to happen on November 30, at the UN Climate Change Conference, where dozens of world leaders would’ve been present. Agencies thought the attack would hit with all these people in Paris.

Former officials say the attack on the soccer game made a lot more sense in retrospect, as a softer target with a much larger attendance. Unfortunately the planning to prevent an attack centered entirely on the future date.