Category Archives: Al Qaeda/ISIS

Inside the ‘Blackwater of Jihad’

Kim Sengupta reports for The Independent:

malhama-tactical.jpgThey wear the latest and most advanced body armour and helmets, camouflage gear and anti-ballistic sunglasses: the fashion statement favoured by frontline private security companies across the world’s combat zones. But Malhama Tactical is not from the West like most of the others. Its fighters are in Syria training Islamists: a “Blackwater of jihad” who have found a new way of cashing in on the self-styled “caliphate”.

Blackwater became the most high-profile of Western security contractors in Iraq, gaining notoriety as the most violent and aggressive of the corporate military firms that spotted a highly lucrative trade following the “liberation” of the country in 2003. Such firms were largely immune from scrutiny or prosecution: that changed after a particularly bloody day in Baghdad.

One late morning in September in 2007, I watched as Blackwater’s guards opened fire from their armoured cars into families out on a Sunday in a popular location, Nisoor Square: 17 civilians were killed and more than were 40 injured. Four of the guards were later convicted in connection with the deaths. Blackwater changed its name, first to Xe Services and then Academi and continues to receive US government contracts.

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Battle for Manbij shows Syria’s civil war is almost over – and it looks like Bashar Assad has won

Patrick Cockburn reports for The Independent:

manbij-syria.jpgWinners and losers are emerging in what may be the final phase of the Syrian civil war as anti-Isis forces prepare for an attack aimed at capturing Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital in Syria. Kurdish-led Syrian fighters say they have seized part of the road south of Raqqa, cutting Isis off from its other territory further east.

Isis is confronting an array of enemies approaching Raqqa, but these are divided, with competing agendas and ambitions. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main fighting force is the Syrian Kurdish Popular Mobilisation Units (YPG), backed by the devastating firepower of the US-led air coalition, are now getting close to Raqqa and are likely to receive additional US support. The US currently has 500 Special Operations troops in north-east Syria and may move in American-operated heavy artillery to reinforce the attack on Raqqa.

This is bad news for Turkey, whose military foray into northern Syria called Operation Euphrates Shield began last August, as it is being squeezed from all sides. In particular, an elaborate political and military chess game is being played around the town of Manbij, captured by the SDF last year, with the aim of excluding Turkey, which had declared it to be its next target. The Turkish priority in Syria is to contain and if possible reduce or eliminate the power of Syrian Kurds whom Ankara sees as supporting the Kurdish insurrection in Turkey.

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Pentagon Delivers Plan to Escalate ISIS War

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Image result for Pentagon Delivers Plan to Escalate ISIS WarFull details of the plan have not been released yet, but the long-promised Pentagon proposal to escalate the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has been delivered today, and is said to includes options for large deployments of additional troops to Syria, as well as increased targeting of ISIS the world over.

The plan for the Pentagon is to “rapidly” defeat ISIS, with the assumption that throwing more US troops at the situation will make it go faster. Officials at the Pentagon conceded this strategy might need to be further refined before implemented on the ground.

It is particularly noteworthy that we don’t really know any more about the plan today, beyond the talking points, than we did about it in recent weeks when officials started hyping its upcoming delivery, with the recommendations still apparently boiling down to straightforward additions of a number of combat troops.

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Trump Administration Preparing for Deeper Involvement in Yemen?

Gregory Wilpert speaks to CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin who says the recent failed US Navy Seal raid shows that the Trump administration’s plans for Yemen will contribute to making the horrific humanitarian crisis there worse. (The Real News)

Alleged Mastermind Tells Obama 9/11 Was America’s Fault

Carol Rosenberg reports for McClatchy:

Khalid Sheik Mohammed poses for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) at at the U.S. Navy Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in this undated photo.The alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 terror attacks wrote former President Barack Obama in a long suppressed letter that America brought the 9/11 attacks on itself for years of foreign policy that killed innocent people across the world.

“It was not we who started the war against you in 9/11. It was you and your dictators in our land,” Khalid Sheik Mohammed, 51, writes in the 18-page letter to Obama, who he addressed as “the head of the snake” and president of “the country of oppression and tyranny.” It is dated January 2015 but didn’t reach the White House until a military judge ordered Guantánamo prison to deliver it days before Obama left office.

[…] The Kuwait-born Pakistani citizen of Baluch ethnic background, lists a long litany of U.S. overseas interventions — from Iraq and Iran to Vietnam and Hiroshima — to justify the worst terror attack on U.S. soil.But he is particularly focused on the cause of the Palestinians, highlights civilian suffering and accuses Obama of being beholden to special interests, notably Israel and “the occupier Jews.” Israel gets 39 mentions while Osama bin Laden gets a dozen, including once to excoriate Obama for the mission that hunted down and killed the founder of the al-Qaida movement for the 9/11 attacks.

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U.S. Military Weighs Expanded Use of Cyber, Space Weapons Against Islamic State

Jim Michaels reports for USA Today:

Image result for U.S. Military Weighs Expanded Use of Cyber, Space Weapons Against Islamic StateMilitary chiefs are prepared to give President-elect Donald Trump the options he wants to intensify the fight against the Islamic State, including the possibility of granting commanders greater leeway to use secret cyber-warfare and space weapons, the top Air Force leader said.

“We’ve heard him loud and clear that he’s going to be looking for options,” Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, told USA TODAY.

Goldfein said the recommendations may center on permitting field commanders more flexibility to deploy an array of weapons against the militants, who are waging a terrorism campaign beyond their bases in Iraq and Syria.

“If we want to be more agile then the reality is we are going to have to push decision authority down to some lower levels in certain areas,” Goldfein said during a December trip to this air base. “The big question that we’ve got to wrestle with … is the authorities to operate in cyber and space.”

Capabilities in those two areas are among the military’s most closely held secrets, and their use now generally requires approval at the highest levels of government.

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‘Dreadful Year’ of Attacks in Turkey Capped by 39 Dead in Istanbul Nightclub Attack

Amy Goodman speaks to Koray Çaliskan, associate professor of political science at Bogaziçi University, and are also joined by Kani Xulam, director of the American Kurdish Information Network, after Turkey suffers another terror attack. (Democracy Now!)

There Is Nothing the Turkish Government Can Do To Stop ISIS Terror Attacks On Its Soil

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

gunman.jpgThe killing by an Islamic State (Isis) gunman of 39 civilians in a nightclub in Istanbul is the latest massacre in Turkey, where such slaughter is now happening every few weeks. The perpetrators may differ but the cumulative effect of these atrocities is to persuade Turks that they live in an increasingly frightening and unstable country. It is also clear that the Turkish government does not know what to do to stop the attacks.

These are likely to continue with unrelenting savagery whatever the government does, because Isis is too big and well-resourced to be eliminated. It is well rooted in Turkey and can use local militants or bring in killers from abroad, as may have happened at the Reina nightclub and was the cae in the assault on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport earlier in the year.

As in France, Belgium or Germany, it is impossible to stop attacks when ordinary civilians are the targets and the killers are prepared to die. Their success is often blamed on “security lapses” but in practice no security will provide safety.

What makes “terrorism” in Turkey different from Europe and the Middle East is not the number of dead – more are killed by Isis in Baghdad every month – but the diversity of those carrying them out. Three weeks ago, the killing of 44 people — mostly policemen — outside a football stadium in Istanbul was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), allegedly an arm of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey in Ankara on 19 December was blamed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on a third group, the followers of Feithullah Gulen, who are held responsible for the failed military coup on 15 July.

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52,369 Killed In Iraq during 2016

Margaret Griffis reports for Antiwar:

Image result for Iraq mapAt least 52,369 people were killed in Iraq during 2017. Another 21,795 were wounded.

According to figures compiled by Antiwar.com, at least 9,148 civilians, 6,430 security personnel, and 36,661 militants were killed. Also, three U.S. servicemen were killed in combat in Iraq. (A fourth one was killed fighting the Islamic State militants in Syria.) A British bomb disposal expert and 125 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party were killed as well. Two French soldiers, a British bomb disposal expert, and an Australian N.G.O. worker were wounded. These figures are similar to 2015’s, which were 52,045 killed and 19,651 wounded.

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Shadow of Islamic State Hangs Over Saudi Arabia

Mona Alami reports for Middle East Eye:

It was a stark warning delivered at the height of the battle for Aleppo: Michel Kilo, a prominent Syrian dissident, told Saudi Arabia the blowback of meddling in his country would be simple: “This havoc will eventually end up destroying them,” he said.

“If events in our country do not come to an end, [terrorists] will move towards them in multiples. Eventually they will see what’s coming for them… they live just because they have money.”

Kilo’s warning – or perhaps threat – plays into what many in the Gulf might fear: Saudi and GCC support for rebels fighting Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, has prolonged the war and will have unintended consequences; and that the Gulf faces an influx of militants as groups such as the Islamic State and the Nusra Front are defeated on the battlegrounds of Iraq and Syria.

According to the Soufan Group, there are 2,500 Saudis fighting for such groups, the highest total of the Gulf states. In contrast, there are only an estimated 70 Kuwaitis doing the same.

But there is already a threat within the Gulf states’ own borders, with IS claiming, and being blamed for, a string of attacks in Saudi Arabia and beyond. According to counter-terrorism expert Dr Mustapha Alani from the Gulf Research Centre, Saudi Arabia has arrested 500 people with links to IS since 2014, but attacks still get through.

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A Deadly Day: Russian Ambassador Assassinated, Berlin Truck Crash and Zürich Mosque Attacked

Amy Goodman speaks to Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of several books, about the three deadly events which took place on 19th December and the wider context surrounding them. (Democracy Now!)

There’s More Propaganda Than News Coming Out of Aleppo This Week

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

aleppo-evacs.jpg[…] The dominance of propaganda over news in coverage of the war in Syria has many negative consequences. It is a genuine civil war and the exclusive focus of on the atrocities committed by the Syrian armed forces on an unarmed civilian population gives a skewed picture of what is happening. These atrocities are often true and the UN says that 82 civilians may have been summarily executed in east Aleppo last month. But, bad though this is, it is a gross exaggeration to compare what has happened in Aleppo to genocide in Rwanda in 1994 or the massacre in Srebrenica the following year.

There is nothing wrong or surprising about the Syrian opposition demonising its enemies and hiding negative news about itself. The Iraqi opposition did the same thing in 2003 and the Libyan opposition in 2011. What is much more culpable is the way in which the Western media has allowed itself to become a conduit for propaganda for one side in this savage conflict. They have done so by rebranding it as authentic partisan information they cannot check, produced by people living under the authority of jihadi movements that tortures or kills any critic or dissenter.

News organisations have ended up being spoon-fed by jihadis and their sympathisers who make it impossible for independent observers to visit areas they control. By regurgitating information from such tainted sources, the media gives al-Qaeda type groups every incentive to go on killing and abducting journalists in order to create and benefit from a news vacuum they can fill themselves.

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Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could Be Wrong

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

aleppo.jpgThe Iraqi army, backed by US-led airstrikes, is trying to capture east Mosul at the same time as the Syrian army and its Shia paramilitary allies are fighting their way into east Aleppo. An estimated 300 civilians have been killed in Aleppo by government artillery and bombing in the last fortnight, and in Mosul there are reportedly some 600 civilian dead over a month.

Despite these similarities, the reporting by the international media of these two sieges is radically different.

In Mosul, civilian loss of life is blamed on Isis, with its indiscriminate use of mortars and suicide bombers, while the Iraqi army and their air support are largely given a free pass. Isis is accused of preventing civilians from leaving the city so they can be used as human shields.

Contrast this with Western media descriptions of the inhuman savagery of President Assad’s forces indiscriminately slaughtering civilians regardless of whether they stay or try to flee. The UN chief of humanitarian affairs, Stephen O’Brien, suggested this week that the rebels in east Aleppo were stopping civilians departing – but unlike Mosul, the issue gets little coverage.

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Team Trump’s Message: The Clash of Civilizations Is Back

Michael Hirsh reports for Politico:

161119-Michael-Flynn-GettyImages-599941542.jpg[…] Welcome back, approximately, to the world just after 9/11, when terror hung in the air, fear was raw and palpable and Islamophobia was so rampant that George W. Bush felt compelled to go to a Washington mosque six days after the attacks and declare: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.” Barack Obama, having inherited a much bigger global war from Bush after the invasion of Iraq, has avoided any talk of Islam at all and insisted on calling the enemy merely “violent extremism.” Obama repeatedly sought to remind Americans that it was precisely the idea of a “clash of civilizations” that Islamists embraced—because it frames the conflict as one against all of Islam and its culture, not just the jihadists.

But the incoming president, Trump, appears open to the clash-of-civilizations idea—one that fits neatly with his view of an America that rejects “globalism,” tightens up its borders against immigrants, and bans most new Muslims from coming in until they can be “vetted.” “I think Islam hates us,” Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last March. While he said he was speaking of radical Islam, he added: “It’s very hard to define. It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.” For the Trump team, who did not respond to a request for comment, Muslims appear to be guilty of radical sympathies until proven innocent.

That approach, some scholars say, will be a terrible mistake, 15 years into what is already seen by some as a “Forever War.”

“Sadly, Trump traffics in a similar ‘clash of civilizations’ narrative to that of Al Qaeda and ISIS,” says Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics, author of the recently published book ISIS: A History. “They all view the world in binary terms. … What Trump and his followers do not get is that their inflammatory rhetoric plays into the hands of ISIS and Al Qaeda, who labor hard to convince skeptical Muslims that the West is waging a war against Islam.”

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Clinton Sounded More Interventionist, But The Middle East Crises Trump Inherits Could Suck Him In

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

world-trump-reaction-20.jpg[…] Trump’s instincts generally seem less well-informed but often shrewd, and his priories have nothing to do with the Middle East. Past US leaders have felt the same way, but they usually end up by being dragged into its crises one way or other, and how they perform then becomes the test of their real quality as a leader. The region has been the political graveyard for three of the last five US presidents: Jimmy Carter was destroyed by the consequences of the Iranian revolution; Ronald Reagan was gravely weakened by the Iran-Contra scandal; and George W Bush’s years in office will be remembered chiefly for the calamities brought on by his invasion of Iraq. Barack Obama was luckier and more sensible, but he wholly underestimated the rise of Isis until it captured Mosul in 2014.

The US no longer enjoys the superpower hegemony it had between the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the financial crisis of 2008. Its strength was further limited by failure to gain its ends in Iraq and Afghanistan and the return of Russia as a rival power, but it remains far-and-away the most powerful state in the world. It is a position full of pitfalls such as the prolonged effort by US allies like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel to lure the US into wars in Syria and Iran that will serve their own interests.

Obama resisted the temptation to fight new wars, but if Hillary Clinton had been in charge her record suggests that she might well have done so. How would Donald Trump have responded? There is a bigger gap between his words and deeds than there are with most politicians. But words create their own momentum and his constant beating of the patriotic drum will make it difficult for him to exercise the degree of caution necessary to avoid ensnarement in the Middle East. Over-heated nationalism cannot be turned on and off like a tap. He may want to concentrate on radical change at home, but the vortex of crises in the Middle East will one day suck him in.

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Are CIA and Western Intelligence Services Covering Up Algerian Sponsorship of Islamist Jihadists?

Sharmini Peries speaks to investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed about his latest piece: ‘Intelligence agencies are running al-Qaeda camps in North Africa ‘. (The Real News)

HyperNormalisation by Adam Curtis

Documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis released on 16th October 2016 exclusively on BBC iPlayer. (BBC)

Hillary Clinton Reaffirms Commitment to a No-Fly Zone in Syria

Paul Jay speaks to Max Blumenthal and Medea Benjamin after the conclusion of the third presidential debate where host Chris Wallace challenged Clinton by saying a no-fly zone would lead to confrontation with Russia in Syria. (The Real News)

Obama DOJ Drops Charges Against Alleged Broker of Libyan Weapons

Kenneth Vogel and Josh Gerstein report for Politico:

160410-clinton-obama-libya-1160The Obama administration is moving to dismiss charges against an arms dealer it had accused of selling weapons that were destined for Libyan rebels.

Lawyers for the Justice Department on Monday filed a motion in federal court in Phoenix to drop the case against the arms dealer, an American named Marc Turi, whose lawyers also signed the motion.

The deal averts a trial that threatened to cast additional scrutiny on Hillary Clinton’s private emails as Secretary of State, and to expose reported Central Intelligence Agency attempts to arm rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi.

Government lawyers were facing a Wednesday deadline to produce documents to Turi’s legal team, and the trial was officially set to begin on Election Day, although it likely would have been delayed by protracted disputes about classified information in the case.

A Turi associate asserted that the government dropped the case because the proceedings could have embarrassed Clinton and President Barack Obama by calling attention to the reported role of their administration in supplying weapons that fell into the hands of Islamic extremist militants.

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The Questionable Science Behind Government Terrorist-Prevention Efforts

Aviva Stahl reports for VICE:

In the early hours of a Sunday morning this June, Omar Mateen walked into Latin Night at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and opened fire. This was a space that often served as a refuge for the area’s LGBTQ community, but by the time daylight broke, 50 people were dead and another 53 wounded. Speaking from the White House hours later that day, President Obama told reporters that the attack appeared to be “an example of the kind of homegrown extremism that all of us have been concerned about.”

The attack rightfully outraged the American public. But the bloodshed that day was just the latest example of how the war on terror has changed since 9/11, when the greatest threat was generally understood to come from outside America’s borders. Like that in Orlando, the attack on the Boston Marathon, and more recently in Brussels and in Paris have highlighted the fact that acts of terrorism are often committed by people born or raised in our communities. Governments from the United Kingdom to the United States and beyond have sought to address this emerging phenomenon by establishing multiagency programs to help them identify who might be vulnerable extremism.

But is it ethical—or even possible—to determine who’s a terrorist in the making?

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US Response to 9/11 Seen as Driving Force in Spread of Terror

Jason Ditz writes for Antiwar:

While within the United States, there is still plenty of willingness to use the 9/11 anniversary as a time for politicians to make public appearances and give hawkish speeches praising America’s “unity” in reaction to the attacks, internationally there is growing willingness to be more circumspect about the results.

France, which has found itself a primary target for ISIS terror attacks, increasingly sees the US reaction to 9/11 as the instigating cause of that, with several high-profile analysts and top officials saying that the post-9/11 interventions led to an “era of instability” of which much of Europe, including France, has been a victim.

French President Francois Hollandeechoed this sentiment, noting that the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the creation of ISIS, and that even though (France’s then-President) Jacques Chirac refused to participate in the war, France has become a main target for ISIS.

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The Truth About 9/11

Eric Margolis writes:

As Americans enter the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on their nation, they still have not understood the true cause of these dreadful attacks.

Who can blame them? Our politicians and media have totally obscured the truth behind these and subsequent attacks that we call ‘terrorism.’ While we mourn 9/11, US B-52 heavy bombers are raining bombs on what’s left of Afghanistan in a futile attempt to crush tribal forces (aka Taliban) fighting western occupation.

We did the same thing in Laos in the 1980’s, as President Barack Obama properly noted during his visit there last week. Laos has never recovered and Afghanistan won’t either.

Since 2015, the US has dropped at least 32,000 – 1,000-2,000 lb. bombs on Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan – all Muslim nations. US bomb inventories are running critically low as arms makers work overtime.

9/11 was a revenge attack conducted by mostly Saudi nationals who claimed they wanted to punish the United States for supporting Israeli oppression of Palestine, and for what they claimed was the US ‘occupation’ of Saudi Arabia.

That’s as much as we really know. We have never gotten the full story about 9/11. The best we can do is ask “qui bono,” who really benefitted from the attacks?

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Fifteen Years After 9/11, Neverending War

Alex Emmons writes for The Intercept:

In the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when Congress voted to authorize military force against the people who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the hijackings, few Americans could have imagined the resulting manhunt would span from West Africa all the way to the Philippines, and would outlast two two-term presidents.

Today, U.S. military engagement in the Middle East looks increasingly permanent. Despite the White House having formally ended the wars Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of U.S. troops and contractors remain in both countries. The U.S. is dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria faster than it can make them, and according to the Pentagon, its bombing campaign in Libya has “no end point at this particular moment.” The U.S. is also helping Saudi Arabia wage war in Yemen, in addition to conducting occasional airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia.

Fifteen years after the September 11 attacks, it looks like the war on terror is still in its opening act.

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ISIS Intel Was Cooked, House Panel Finds

Nancy Youssef and Shane Harris write for The Daily Beast:

A House Republican task force has found that officials from the U.S. military’s Central Command altered intelligence reports to portray the U.S. fight against ISIS and al Qaeda in a more positive light than lower-level analysts believed was warranted by the facts on the ground, three officials familiar with the task force’s findings told The Daily Beast.

A roughly 10-page report on the controversy is expected to be released by the end of next week, two officials said. While it contains no definitive evidence that senior Obama administration officials ordered the reports to be doctored, the five-month investigation did corroborate earlier reports that analysts felt the leaders of CENTCOM’s intelligence directorate pressured them to conclude that the threat from ISIS was not as ominous as the analysts believed, the officials said.

“The investigation is ongoing but the report substantiates the claims” that intelligence reports were altered, one official familiar with the report explained to The Daily Beast. Another official said that the investigation could remain open even after report is released.

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Syria Faces Many Fights, But Few Signs of Resolution

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Aleppo may get the lion’s share of the coverage in Syria’s Civil War recently, but the presentation of the conflict by both sides (ironically as they have been for years) as the decisive battle for Syria, the reality is that Syria has no shortage of different  conflicts, with myriad different factions fighting largely independent wars.

Five years ago, Syria may have been a loose collection of rebels against a government, but today it’s common for two rebel factions to end up fighting one another, and there are several wholly distinct battles across the country, from the US-backed rebels at the Tanf border crossing to the fight between Nusra and the Syrian military over Idlib and Latakia Province.

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The Sham Rebrand of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front

Gareth Porter reports for Middle East Eye:

The Nusra Front’s adoption of the new name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and claim that it has separated itself from al-Qaeda was designed to influence US policy, not to make the group any more independent of al-Qaeda.

The objective of the manoeuvre was to head off US-Russian military cooperation against the jihadist group, renamed last week, based at least in part on the hope that the US bureaucratic and political elite, who are lining up against a new US-Russian agreement, may block or reverse the Obama administration’s intention to target the al-Qaeda franchise in Syria.

The leader of the Syrian jihadist organisation Mohammad al-Golani and al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri both made a great deal of the public encouragement that Zawahiri gave to separation from the parent organisation. The idea was that the newly rebranded and supposedly independent jihadist organisation in Syria would be better able to fulfill its role in the Syrian revolution.

But to anyone who has followed the politics of Nusra Front’s role in the Syrian war, the idea that Zawahiri would actually allow its Syrian franchise to cut loose from the central leadership and function with full independence is obviously part of a political sham.

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U.S. Says New Bombing Campaign Against ISIS in Libya Has No “End Point at This Particular Moment”

Alex Emmons reports for The Intercept:

The U.S. launched a major new military campaign against ISIS on Monday when U.S. planes bombed targets in Libya, responding to requests from the U.N.-backed Libyan government. Strikes took place in the coastal town of Sirte, which ISIS took in June of last year.

The strikes represent a significant escalation in the U.S. war against ISIS, spreading the conflict thousands of miles from the warzones in Syria and Iraq.

All of these attacks took place without Congressional authorization or even debate.

“We want to strike at ISIL anywhere it raises its head,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook. “Libya is one of those places.” He said the airstrikes “would continue as long as [the Libyan government] is requesting them,” and that they do not have “an end point at this particular moment in time.”

The U.S. has long planned to spread its military campaign to Libya. In January, General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the U.S. was preparing to take “decisive military action against ISIL” in Libya.

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U.S. Announces New Front Against ISIS in Libya: Interview with Phyllis Bennis

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and the author of Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror, about the U.S. military carrying out two airstrikes in Libya against ISIS fighters on Monday in the latest escalation of the U.S. war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State. (Democracy Now!)

Hillary Clinton and Her Hawks

Gareth Porter writes for Consortium News:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at NATO conference in Munich, Germany, Feb. 4 (Official Defense Department photo)As Hillary Clinton begins her final charge for the White House, her advisers are already recommending air strikes and other new military measures against the Assad regime in Syria.

The clear signals of Clinton’s readiness to go to war appears to be aimed at influencing the course of the war in Syria as well as U.S. policy over the remaining six months of the Obama administration. (She also may be hoping to corral the votes of Republican neoconservatives concerned about Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.)

Last month, the think tank run by Michele Flournoy, the former Defense Department official considered to be most likely to be Clinton’s choice to be Secretary of Defense, explicitly called for “limited military strikes” against the Assad regime.

And earlier this month Leon Panetta, former Defense Secretary and CIA Director, who has been advising candidate Clinton, declared in an interview that the next president would have to increase the number of Special Forces and carry out air strikes to help “moderate” groups against President Bashal al-Assad. (When Panetta gave a belligerent speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night, he was interrupted by chants from the delegates on the floor of “no more war!”

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Are ISIS’ Online Terror Guides Really Training ‘Lone Wolves’?

Jamie Tarabay with Amit Weiss and Gilad Shiloach report for Vocativ:

[…] ISIS is only the latest group to flood the internet with “how-to” guides, yet the plethora of material has not led to more terrorist bombings abroad.

The manuals and instruction guides and lists of chemicals and equipment needed to create explosives have been online and accessible for decades. They’ve been put there by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Abdullah Azzam, who led resistance fighters in Peshawar in the 1980s.

Many have tried to construct booby traps, mix chemicals to make improvised explosive devices, connect detonators and test them remotely with mobile phones. Most have failed. Those who have succeeded, were trained, at least in part, by others in person.

“One likely reason why al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists have not made better use of the Internet’s training potential is that its value as a source of real-life terrorism knowledge is, at least to date, quite limited,” wrote Michael Kenney in 2010, when he was a fellow at the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Penn State University Park. He is now an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

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