Tag Archives: ISIS

Turkey to send 11 Daesh/ISIS members back to France

As part of Turkey’s policy of repatriating foreign Daesh/ISIS members to their home countries, 11 French national members of the terror group will be sent back to France at beginning of December, said Turkish officials on Thursday.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu made the announcement at a conference on migration in the Aegean province of Izmir.

Several European countries have resisted Turkey’s efforts to repatriate Daesh/ISIS terrorists, but Turkey has vowed to press forward.

To date 370,000 Syrian refugees who were hosted in Turkey have returned to their country, Soylu added.

Turkey hosts some 3.6 million refugees from neighboring Syria, more than any other country in the world.

Since 2016, it has conducted operations along its borders to eliminate terrorists there and also create safe conditions for the return of Syrian refugees.

Soylu also said that while 268,000 irregular migrants were held in Turkey in 2018, so far this year, some 430,000 have been held.

Since recognizing Daesh as a terror group in 2013, Turkey has been attacked by Daesh/ISIS terrorists numerous times, including 10 suicide bombings, seven bombings, and four armed attacks which killed 315 people and injured hundreds.

In response to the attacks, Turkey launched anti-terror operations at home and abroad, neutralizing 3,500 Daesh terrorists and arresting 5,500.


Turkey sends American ISIS fighter to US after stalemate with Greece

A suspected US extremist, trapped for days between the Turkish and Greek borders, was sent back to the United States Friday, Turkey’s interior minister said.

“The American on the shared border with Greece has just been expelled from Istanbul by plane to the United States,” Suleyman Soylu was quoted as saying by Turkish media.

The man, identified as Muhammad Darwis B, a US citizen of Jordanian descent, was captured in Syria on suspicion of ties to ISIS, according to state news agency Anadolu.

Turkish authorities say the US had initially refused to accept him, and that he chose deportation to Greece, only for Greek authorities to refuse him entry on Monday.

He was trapped in no-man’s land between the borders, next to Turkey’s northeastern province of Edirne, though Turkish border guards gave him food and a car to sleep in at night, according to Anadolu.

There was an apparent breakthrough on Thursday, when Turkey said the US “committed to taking him back.”

Turkey has criticized Western countries for not taking back captured members of ISIS, and has lately publicized its efforts to deport extremists back to their countries of origin.

It follows criticism of Turkey’s offensive last month against Kurdish militants in northern Syria, which Western governments complained would undermine the fight against ISIS.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said last week that Turkey had nearly 1,200 foreign members of ISIS in custody, and had captured 287 during the offensive in Syria.

The Hurriyet newspaper said Wednesday that 959 suspects were being prepared for deportation, with the largest numbers coming from Iraq, Syria and Russia.


Moroccan Security Forces Arrest ISIS Extremist

The Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) arrested an ISIS-linked extremist on Tuesday in the city of Guelmim, southern Morocco.

According to the BCIJ statement, investigations revealed that the terror suspect is promoting ISIS extremist ideology through apps to “serve the agenda of this terrorist organization.”

BCIJ agents seized several electronic devices, mobile phones, and electrical cables during the operation.

BCIJ has carried out several other crackdowns against terror cells throughout the year.

Morocco introduced the BCIJ in 2015. The bureau has been monitoring security threats across the country and has also assisted foreign security agencies in combating terrorism.

This year, Moroccan security services dismantled 13 terrorist cells that were preparing to commit criminal acts targeting the security and safety of the Kingdom or friendly countries, and recruited young Moroccans to fight in areas where militant groups are active.

BCIJ, which specializes in combating terrorism, also dismantled a number of terrorist networks, including thwarting a terror cell operating in Morocco and Spain.

Morocco has accumulated an important experience in the fight against extremism, thanks to upholding a proactive and precautionary security policy approach.

As for the Moroccan Interior Ministry, it reiterated that it is actively pursuing continuous coordination with security services in combating terrorism.


Morocco Worried About Return of ISIS Militants

Morocco’s Interior Ministry described the return of terrorist militants from hotbeds of tension in Syria, Iraq and Libya as “worrying” for the country and one of the most important challenges facing the concerned countries.

It stressed that efforts exerted in the Kingdom has enabled it to uncover 13 terrorist cells until late October that were working on recruiting young Moroccans to fight in areas where militant groups are active.

The Ministry issued a report and distributed it to members of its committee and the House of Representatives on the occasion of presenting the sub-budget for 2020.

According to the report, terrorism phenomena affects all the regions in the world and threatens the countries’ security and stability, including Morocco.

Terrorist organizations are calling on the returning militants to infiltrate their “home countries to carry out terrorist operations, the Ministry explained.

This contributes to targeting stability, disrupting the economic movement and encouraging the establishment of sleeper cells to revive the so-called ISIS “caliphate.”

The report noted that the Ministry has “continued to work during this year with the highest levels of vigilance and preparedness, contained in the national plan to combat terrorism, both at the level of the territorial administration and security interests.”

The Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) was able to dismantle a number of terrorist networks, including thwarting an ISIS affiliated terrorist group active in Morocco and Spain, the report added.

It said the Kingdom has accumulated a significant experience in the fight against extremism and terrorism, thanks to approaching a proactive and precautionary security policy in the fight against the terrorist threat.

In coordination with the security services in the field of combating terrorism, the Ministry pointed to adopting “a policy that changes according to the terrorist groups’ strategies taken.”

“These groups receive financial resources and continues to use extremist ideologies and violent speeches through social media and modern sites among the fragile population.”

In March, the Moroccan authorities deported a group of eight Moroccan nationals, who were in the conflict zones in Syria.

This step came in line with its contribution to the international efforts related to combating terrorism.


ISIS families escape SDF-controlled camp, news of deals with Syrian govt.

An offensive by Turkey and its Syrian opposition allies is nearing a camp for displaced people in Ain Issa, northern Syria holding thousands of members of “ISIS families,” some of whom have managed to escape after the site was shelled, Kurdish officials from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 100 members of ISIS families have already fled the camp.

The shelling of the camp at Ain Issa north of Raqqa represented the “support for the revival of the Daesh [ISIS] organization once again,” the Kurdish-led administration for northern and eastern Syria said.

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria demanded that the UN security council, the international coalition fighting ISIS, the Arab League, and the European Union to quickly intervene to prevent a “disaster”.

On the other hand, a local media outlet named “Euphrates Post” reported on Sunday SDF’s release of ISIS leader Omar al-Amouri in a deal with the Syrian government forces in Deir Ezzor.

Al-Amouri, also known as Abu Bakr al-Homsi or Abu Bakr Qareyten, was released around a week ago, the post says, adding that he left to Damascus several days ago.

The ISIS leader was the mediator between the Syrian government forces and ISIS regarding oil trading, and he was in direct contact with the Syrian lawmaker Hossam al-Katerji, who is one of several people sanctioned by the US for alleged oil trading with ISIS.


Twitter users work out location of ISIS supporters

On Monday, ISIS’s elusive leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi re-emerged with an audio message directed at supporters of the terrorist group.

Followers of Baghdadi, who is said to be badly injured, reacted on social media from across the world as they posted images of support. But at a time when it is nearly impossible not to leave some sort of online footprint, experts in open-source intelligence set about geolocating where the images were taken.

Nick Waters, a senior investigator at Bellingcat, was initially able to identify a number of sites in Syria and Turkey. This included the last rebel-held Syrian territory of Idlib, a park in Konya, Turkey and what appeared to be Al Bab, a city in Aleppo Governate. Unsurprisingly, Syria, Iraq and Turkey featured prominently.

ISIS members also seemingly showed support from a number of areas in Iraqi Kurdistan and Raqqa, the former capital of the terrorist group’s so-called caliphate. They also came from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, with one message claiming to have come from as far away as Brazil.

As pointed out by Bellingcat in 2016, when ISIS loyalists acted in a similar way by displaying public messages of support, in certain cases it is possible to track down the location of supporters who post online messages.

Twitter users were able to pinpoint one supporter to a street in Munster, Germany, and another to the Bruce Grove railway station in North London.

“Overall, the ISIS social media campaign backfired spectacularly, likely revealing information about multiple ISIS supporters in major European cities, including their residential locations and, perhaps with CCTV cameras, their identities,” Bellingcat wrote at the time.


US announces new sanctions on Hamas, ISIS and Iran’s Guard

The US said it was imposing sanctions on a “wide range of terrorists and their supporters, including the Palestinian group Hamas and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, on Tuesday, the day before the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

The sanctions were imposed on 15 leaders, people and entities affiliated with the two groups and Al Qaeda, the US Treasury Department said.

The sanctions follow a counter-terrorism executive order by Donald Trump.

The order “enhances the authorities we use to target the finances of terror groups and their leaders to ensure they are as robust as possible,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, standing alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Newly sacked US National Security Adviser John Bolton was not present.

Among those sanctioned are Muhammad Izad, a leader with the IRGC based in Lebanon, who is identified as the Palestinian office chief for IRGC ­Quds Force’s Lebanon Corp.

Also under sanctions is Zaher Jabarin, based in Turkey, who is the head of Hamas’s finance office, the US said.

“In his capacity as head of Hamas’s finance department, Jabarin was focused on developing a financial network in Turkey that would allow Hamas to raise, invest, and launder money prior to transferring it to Gaza and the West Bank,” the Treasury said.

Also on the list is the company Redin Exchange, which the department said provided money to Hamas’ militant arm, the Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades.

Redin’s leaders, Marwan Al Rawi and Ismael Tash, were designated individually. And Mr Tash owns Smart Ithalat Ihracat Dis Ticaret Ltd Sirketi, which was designated. Both companies are based in Istanbul.

Other companies sanctioned include the Saksouk Company for Exchange and Money Transfer, Al Haram Foreign Exchange and Al Khalidi Exchange, which were accused of supporting ISIS.

“Al Khalidi has materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, ISIS,” Treasury said.


Indonesia investigates possible ISIS link in Papua riots

The Indonesian National Police’s Counterterrorism Squad, Densus 88, is probing a likely involvement of the Islamic state (ISIS) group in a string of riots in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, Indonesia’s Antara News Agency reported.

The police are working all-out to unearth the masterminds behind the riots, said Chief of the Public Relations Bureau of the National Police Brigadier General Dedi Prasetyo.

A string of violent rallies broke out in several parts of Papua and West Papua as an upshot of the alleged racist slurs against Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java.

In the West Papua provincial capital of Manokwari, a rally against the alleged racist slurs took a violent turn on August 19, with some protesters setting ablaze a local parliamentary building and tires in several parts of the city.

Demonstrators went on a rampage, vandalizing and setting ablaze several government buildings.

The police have alleged that Papuan separatist figure Benny Wenda had masterminded the riots. He is believed to have disseminated hoaxes and attempted to provoke on social media.

However, the police cannot take legal measures against Wenda, as he is no longer an Indonesian citizen.

Earlier, an investigation, jointly conducted by the National Police, the National Intelligence Agency and the National Cyber and Encryption Agency, had discovered 1,750 Facebook and Twitter accounts that had been the source of 32,000 fake news articles and provocative content about the current security situation in Papua. Some of these accounts were operated from overseas.

The findings were already reported to the Communication and Informatics Ministry. All of the fake news articles have been deleted from Facebook and Twitter.

Police have named 57 suspects in anarchist violence in Papua and 21 suspects in riots in West Papua.-VNA


UN criticizes transfer of 1,600 displaced Iraqis

The United Nations on Monday criticized Iraqi authorities for transferring around 1,600 people from camps to their areas of origin, saying the returns could put them in danger.

The returnees, who fled violence during and after ISIS group’s 2014 seizure of swathes of Iraq, had sought refuge at displacement camps in the northern province of Nineweh.

Since August 23, Iraqi authorities have bussed about 300 families, an estimated 1,600 people, from the three camps to their provinces of origin.

The transfers took place despite humanitarian groups’ concerns that the families had no homes or access to services and may be targeted by their home communities for perceived links to ISIS, a terrorist group.

The UN said Monday returnees had “expressed fears that they would be threatened upon their return, and had reportedly received threatening phone calls from community members in their areas of origin warning against return.”

“Despite such concerns, security actors confiscated the (displaced people’s) civil identification, informing the families that their documents would only be returned once they boarded the convoy,” it said in a statement.

More than 1.6 million people remain displaced in camps, unfinished structures or rented apartments across Iraq, nearly two years after the country declared victory over ISIS.

The government has stressed its policy is for all those displaced to return home and for camps to be shut.

Last week, AFP journalists witnessed transfers from the Hammam al-Alil camp in Nineweh province of hundreds of Iraqis originally from Kirkuk, further south.

Women and children, some of them crying, were loaded onto buses by security forces. Some said they did not know where they were being taken.

The transfers often happened “with little notice or apparent planning,” the UN’s Iraq humanitarian coordinator, Marta Ruedas, said on Monday.

“I am concerned about the lack of organization and advanced communication with affected communities and humanitarian partners,” she said.

In some cases, the UN said, security forces denied families entry to camps in their home provinces, displacing them a second time.

In the worst case of violence against returnees so far, three hand grenades were thrown into the Basateen camp in Iraq’s Salahaddin governorate on Sunday, a day after the arrival of 150 displaced families from Nineweh.

“The grenades caused no damage, injuries or casualties (but) are a cause of great concern for the safety of the camp residents,” the UN said.

Other rights groups have already sounded the alarm, including Amnesty International, which has called the returns “premature” and urged Iraqi authorities to halt them immediately.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) called on the government to double down on reconciliation efforts to heal lingering resentment from the fight against ISIS.


US offers $5 million reward for three ISIS leaders

On Wednesday, the US announced it was offering rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to the location of three senior Islamic State figures.

They include Mutaz Abd Nayif Najm al-Jabouri, whom the State Department’s Rewards for Justice (RFJ) program, which is offering the rewards, described as “one of the most important leaders in ISIS.”

Also known as Hajji Taysir, Mu’taz al-Jabouri, was, “as of mid-2017,” the “deputy amir of manufacturing in Syria,” where he “was in charge of the Research Department for ISIS’s chemical and biological efforts,” RFJ explained.

It has long been known that the Islamic State had a chemical weapons program. It used such weapons against the Peshmerga, who were, at first, poorly prepared to deal with that threat. Subsequently, they were provided training and equipment from the US-led Coalition.

Wednesday’s announcement, however, marks the first time the US has stated that the Islamic State also had a biological weapons program.

Biological weapons can be far more lethal than chemical weapons, although most people are unaware of the danger they pose. That is true, even in the US, which was the target of an abortive biological attack following the 9/11 assaults.

In October 2001, shortly after the US intervention in Afghanistan began, highly lethal anthrax was sent in the mail, addressed to two US senators. It came with a note, announcing it was anthrax. Otherwise those who opened the letters would, most likely, have paid little attention to the innocuous-looking white powder.

“I was struck by a sickening thought: Was this the second wave, a biological attack?,” President George W. Bush later wrote in his memoirs. “I had been briefed on the horrifying consequences of a bioweapons attack. One assessment concluded that a ‘well-executed smallpox attack by a state actor on the New York City metropolitan area’ could infect 630,000 people immediately and 2 to 3 million people before the outbreak was contained.”

“One of the best intelligence services in Europe told us it suspected Iraq,” Bush continued. “Saddam Hussein’s regime was one of the few in the world with a record of using weapons of mass destruction, and it had acknowledged possession of anthrax.”

Most of the 17 people infected by the anthrax in 2001, including the five who died, lived in the Washington DC area. A doctor involved in treating them told this reporter, “We pulled them from the jaws of death,” as he explained that the intensive treatment they received would have been impossible, if large numbers of people had been infected.

Advances in genetic engineering in the years since, have only increased the danger posed by biological agents. That prompted the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, to describe gene editing in 2016 as a potential weapon of mass destruction, on a par, even, with nuclear weapons.

The other two Islamic State figures for whom rewards were announced include: Sami Jasim Muhammad al-Jabouri, who “has been instrumental in managing finances” for the terrorist organization, and Amir Muhammad Sa’id ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Mawla, whom RFJ describes as “a religious scholar.”

All three men are Iraqi, and RFJ describes all three as “legacy” members of the Islamic State’s “predecessor” organization, al Qaida in Iraq (AQI.)

Just what the names of such organizations signify is unclear. AQI first emerged in 2004, a year after the US-led war to oust Saddam Hussein began. In late 2004, Paul Wolfowitz, then Deputy Secretary of Defense, told The Atlantic Monthly that the enemy “consists primarily of organized remnants of Saddam’s old regime.”

Around the same time, a figure in Iraq’s new government, visiting Washington, spoke similarly to a small group of Americans. He explained that the ousted regime was the main element behind the insurgency. However, it recognized that it was detested in Iraq, including even by Sunni Arabs. So it had adopted a new, religious cover. Among AQI’s main targets were Iraq’s Shi’ites, as it sought to exacerbate the country’s sectarian divide and mobilize support by assuming the role of the protectors of the Sunni Arabs.

Just as the core of AQI, properly understood, was the former Iraqi regime, the same is true of its successor organization, the so-called Islamic State.

Already in February 2014, as the Islamic State began to establish itself, Al-Arabiya carried a report entitled, “Exclusive: Tops ISIS Leaders Revealed.” Citing Iraqi officials, it explained, “The six individuals who are at the helm of the terror group are from Iraq.”

“At least three of them served in Saddam Hussein’s army,” it continued, “while others were previously detained in Iraq and upon their release they joined the war in Syria.”

The Kurdish view, expressed four months later, shortly after the Islamic State overran Mosul, was similar.

“We believe that many groups are in cooperation, including the former Ba’ath regime’s supporters, former army members, and Ba’ath administrators,” the media advisor to the President of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, explained. “Most of the people in the region believe that the organization known as ISIL is actually founded and ruled by the Ba’ath.” 

In 2015, the highly-regarded news magazine, Der Spiegel, published a report, based on captured documents, entitled “Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State.”

The report, a leak from German intelligence, made a similar point: the Islamic State was established by members of Saddam’s intelligence apparatus, first in Syria after the start of its civil war, following which they moved into Iraq.

Asked in May 2018, about the Der Spiegel article and the role of former Iraqi regime elements, then Commandant of the US Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, essentially agreed.

Neller served as Deputy Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), during the Iraq war. “I left Iraq in 2007,” he said. “Clearly, the ISIS-Al-Qaida Iraq that we fought there did include former Saddam personnel.” 

However, the understanding held, over a decade ago, by Neller and Wolfowitz appears to have been lost.

Asked a similar question in March 2018, the Marine colonel in charge of US forces at Al Asad Airbase in Iraq’s Anbar province, replied, with disarming frankness, “I’ve never looked at it from that perspective.”

“I don’t believe that the leaders are former Iraqi regime leaders.” he continued. “I believe what they are is — I believe they’re twisted. Twisted by some kind of ideology that very few of us can understand.”

Jordanian and Egyptian officials complain that the US fails to see that Iraqi intelligence is still active. Sixteen years may have passed since the collapse of Saddam’s regime, but it was based on sectarian, tribal, clan, and family ties. Those relationships endure.

As described above, the Islamic State is not so much a religious phenomenon, as it is a political phenomenon, with a religious cover.

At its core are brutal and ruthless men, seeking to regain the power and status they lost in 2003, and they use Islam as a legitimizing and recruiting tool. The jihadis are essentially the contemporary equivalent of Lenin’s “useful idiots,” the true-believers, manipulated by others.

The US objective, one former intelligence official advised Kurdistan 24, should be to separate the useful idiots from those who are using and manipulating them. “But the US does the opposite,” he complained. “It is so focused on the transnational, religious aspect of the violence, that it doesn’t see what is happening at the local, political level.”