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THE TRAGEDY OF SYRIA

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ISIS: PREDICTIONS OF LARGER SCALE ATTACKS IN 2016

ISIS Cover Final 2,pdf-page-001

By Al Emid

Journalist Broadcaster and Author: What You Need to Know About ISIS – Terror, Religion and the Caliphate 

As a journalist one gets accustomed to wide-ranging and often contradictory analyses of news events. However sometimes you have to stop and wonder …

While working through the overnight news stories, I encountered a bleak analysis which, if correct, has troubling implications for 2016.

A France 24 report this morning includes interviews with named and unnamed analysts who suggest a grim outlook for 2016 in terms of the fight against terrorism. The report quotes an unnamed ‘French senior counter-terrorism official’ who told Agence France Press that ‘Unfortunately I think 2015 was nothing.’

Terming the tragedies of 2015 as ‘nothing’ seems almost a travesty of terminology and an insult to those who lost loved ones.

France suffered hugely in 2015 with three days of carnage in January including the attack on Charlie Hebdo Magazine. That tragedy claimed 18 lives. In November, assailants killed 130 people in what is frequently termed the deadliest assault in France since the second World War.

The unnamed source predicts that terrorists will mount simultaneous attacks on the same day in several countries. “We know that terrorists are working on this,” the source says.

The France 24 article quotes another source – this one named – as terming the 2015 attacks as ‘amateur’.

That seems difficult to comprehend: all of that loss of life and carnage being termed ‘amateur’.

Yves Trotignon, a former member of France’s intelligence service pointed to the fact that some of the attackers at the Bataclan Theater actually ran out of ammunition, thus reducing the number of lives that could have been lost.

And at the Stade de France ‘the bombers were unable to get into the stadium,’ Trotignon recalls adding that the suicide vests with which three of the bombers blew themselves up were less lethal for bystanders than hoped and one of them failed to detonate.

Trotignon tells France 24 that terrorists learn from their mistakes and that they will work to reduce the traces left by cellular telephone and internet communications.

Honest projections or fear-mongering?

We cannot know until the year unfolds but during 2015 terrorists demonstrated an increasing ability to mount large-scale, spectacular – and hugely attention-getting attacks. And Trotignon no doubt knows whereof he speaks when he says that terrorists learn from their mistakes.

 

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SHOOTING OF RUSSIAN PLANE

ISIS Cover Final 2,pdf-page-001

TURKEY SHOOTS DOWN RUSSIAN JET

ByAl Emid

This link has an excellent rendering of the timeline of the downing of theRussian attack airplane. Ifit does not start automatically, click on the chevron onthe right hand side

https://w.graphiq.com/w/4OpSyA8LGeh?data-uid=6185b2470c&data-campaign=a1fd46a733

Data is curated by  and sourced from World Bank, The International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, Associated Press. 

TERRORISM FUNDING DOWN UNDER

By Al Emid

Certainly we have known for some time that substantial amounts of terrorism funding come from within the Middle East and that terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda actually compete for checks from patrons.

However today a report says that more than 100 Australians are funding terrorism. A report from 9news.com says that AUSTRAC, the country’s financial intelligence agency has recorded a 300 per cent increase in suspicious activity linked to terrorism.

The report says that terrorist groups such as ISIS increasingly turn to inventive ways to raise cash, including crowdfunding where ISIS supporters can donate funds through web sites until authorities discover them and shut them down.

“Involving yourself in terrorism can be as cheap as a couple of hundred dollars, it can be as cheap as buying an airline ticket,” AUSTRAC chief executive Paul Jevtovic says, as quoted in the report.

The money raised supports ISIS operations and attacks, as well as approximately 120 Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq.

While the amounts raised in Australia may not exactly dominate the ISIS treasury, the report proves again that ISIS and other terrorist groups have continuing sources of financing outside the Middle East.

Al Emid’s fifth book entitled What You Need to Know About ISIS – Terror, Religion, War and the Caliphate and set for release by Quidne Press looks behind the news about ISIS and what might lie ahead. He has begun developing a follow-up book set for release in 2016.

ISIS ATTACKS SOARED IN THE LAST QUARTER: REPORT

By Al Emid

October 22 – A new report issued this morning says that the number of attacks executed or orchestrated by ISIS soared during the three months ending September 30 2015. According to IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, it recorded 1,086 attacks ISIS-related attacks worldwide between July 01 and September 30. IHS Jane’s says that this also represents a 42 per cent increase in the average daily number of attacks from 8.3 during the quarter ended June 30 to 11.8 in the period just finished. The new average daily attacks also represented a 39 per cent increase from the overall average of 8.5 attacks per day for the preceding 12 months.

ISIS made relatively little expansion in its territory during the period. “Instead, (ISIS) maintained its strategy of expanding and consolidating local territorial control within its existing structure of provinces,” according to Matthew Henman, head of HIS Jane’s.

Turning to Nigeria, Henman says that “Wilayat Gharb Afriqiyya, previously better known as Boko Haram, has maintained a high intensity of such operations despite a multinational counter-insurgency offensive that has been ongoing since March.”

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SETBACK FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST ISIS

ISIS Cover Final 2,pdf-page-001

In the latest setback for the American-led coalition fighting ISIS, the Pentagon has ended its $500 million program targeted at training 5400 so-called moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS, according to a report in the New York Times. Few fighters had completed the program and of those, ISIS killed or captured many of them and others surrendered their weapons and fled. Speaking in Washington recently to the U. S. Senate Armed Services Committee, General Lloyd Austin, who heads the American war effort in the region had stated that “The new Syrian Force Program has gotten off to slow start,” according to The Daily Beast and other publications.

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ISIS: All Players In Syria Have One Thing in Common

The situation in Syria has become more complex than ever and shows no sign of resolution in the short term. While it may seem unlikely that all of the players would have anything in common, in fact they do: all of them face desperate tests.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization — NATO — is being tested — and becoming increasingly worried — about Russia’s military buildup within Syria.

Turkey is being tested — repeatedly — by Russian airplanes in its airspace.

American President Barack Obama is being tested by Russian President Vladimir Putin who wants a seat at the global bargaining table to explore how to resolve all of the hostilities in Syria and is geopolitically thumbing his nose at Obama.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is being tested as Russia cannot keep up its Syrian adventure indefinitely, given its economic situation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical vision is also being tested because he needs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stay in power.

The Syrian rebel forces, some of them supported by the United States — are being tested by the Russian air strikes that were to be targeted against ISIS and have hit them.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is being tested for his ability to remain in power against all odds.

The Syrian national army is being tested beyond its endurance as it is reportedly weary and dispirited from fighting both domestic rebels and ISIS.

The countries taking in Syrian refugees are being tested for their ability to handle the influx.

And certainly the Syrian population have been tested for over four years – first by the Civil War and then by ISIS.

 

 

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LET’S NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS

LET’S NOT JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS

By Al Emid
Author: What You Need to Know About ISIS: Terror, Religion War and the Caliphate

Each and every individual, whether a professional journalist, analyst or interested observer certainly has the right to interpret the insanity of the ISIS crisis and commentaries about it through his or her own prism and I would never deny anyone the right to do so.

But sometimes you have to wonder.

The Toronto Star recently ran an editorial about the Syria situation. Referring to the upcoming federal election in Canada, the editorial writer (or writers) stated:

Whoever takes the reins of Canada’s foreign policy after Oct. 19 should step up the effort and use what moral leverage we have to urge other more powerful, more affluent actors – the United States, the European Union, and major Asian and Latin American counties leap to mind – to push for a political settlement to Syria’s destabilizing civil war, heed the United Nation’s call for more financial resources, and open the gates to more refugees.

At least two publications decided that that meant that The Toronto Star had proposed that Canada recognize ISIS and the Islamic State as a legitimate government.

Speaking as someone who has researched the ISIS crisis for over a year, as a journalist and as someone who has read The Toronto Star for his entire life I found the idea that The Star would advocate formal recognition for the Islamic State incredible. On obtaining a copy of the editorial I found that the reviewer of The Star editorial had made an Olympic-sized leap in logic. The editorial advocated strong decisive action and a united front. It did not advocate surrender to a bunch of murderers.

Let’s step back and think about it. First, the fact that Syria had become embroiled in a civil war and weakened as a result, made ISIS’s sweep into the country easier because that is a hallmark of ISIS strategy – move into areas where the government is either weak or failing as we have seen in Libya and Yemen.

Moreover, no one familiar with The Toronto Star would believe that it would advocate formal recognition for a government founded on murders, rapes, crucifixions, mass executions, decapitations and other crimes.

And I doubt that anyone who has done any reading on ISIS would agree with extending formal recognition to a ‘state’ that kills fellow Muslims as well as anyone else who gets in the way.

The best case scenario in the short and medium term would be proactive containment. Longer term some serious re-drawing of maps in the region will likely become necessary. Syria may end up in two or three pieces. Iraq may end up in at least three pieces, one of them occupied by the Kurds who will understandably believe that they have given mightily in the fight against ISIS – and could hardly be expected to countenance formal recognition for the Islamic State.

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ISIS HACKS BRITISH GOVERNMENT EMAIL ACCOUNTS

By Al Emid

Hackers linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria — ISIS —  managed to get into the email accounts of British cabinet minsiers, according to a report in The Telegraph.

The hackers targetted the accounts of some of Prime Minister David Cameron’s most senior ministers, including Home Secretary Theresa May.

The report adds that one of the ringleaders of the operation died in the  drone strike disclosed by Cameron several days earlier.

According to The Telegraph report, investigators also fear that by hacking into the ministerial email acocunts, jihadists could learn which events government ministers and members of the Royal Family planned to attend.

The Telegraph says that it had actually learned of the operation several months ago but agreed to hold off publication during the investigation.

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ISIS AND SOCIAL MEDIA

By Al Emid

Undoubtedly, one of the reasons that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria– ISIS –has succeeded in convincing us of its power lies in its mastery of social media. They have used it to frighten  — with images of executions, to gain notoriety with smoothly-produced videos and to gain recruits online with a huge number of accounts by some estimates ranging over 90,000 on Twitter alone.

A Reuters report today says that the American counter-strategy pales in comparsion. The Reuters report quotes a State Department memo obtained by the New York Times in which a Department oficial says: “When it comes to the external message, our narrative is being trumped by ISIL’s.”

That means battles in cyber-space as well as on land.