ISIS

Thousands of Islamic State Militants Surrender as Group Nears Total Defeat

Thousands of Islamic State militants have surrendered to the U.S.-Syrian Democratic Forces as the caliphate nears complete defeat, according to the group’s spokesman. “Number of Daesh (ISIS) members surrendered to us since yesterday evening has risen to 3,000,’ Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted in English on Tuesday evening. “[Three] Yazidi women and [four] children were rescued, too.” Bali added that the “decisive moment is closer than ever before,” following heavy fighting in the Syrian town of Baghouz, the final stretch of territory in Syria and Iraq still held by the Islamic State. However, the group has not provided a timeline for when the group will be completely defeated. The operation to completely expel the caliphate from the Euphrates Valley has taken far longer than expected, having begun nearly six months ago. On January 25th, the SDF’s commander-in-chief Mazloum Kobani declared that the caliphate would be fully defeated within a month, a target the forces have not achieved. Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition has previously explained that Baghouz had been “more crowded with both civilians and fighters than expected,” requiring troops to evacuate around 40,000 civilians from the area. “The overflow during the lull in battle has been difficult for the SDF and they have responded to everything well,” said coalition spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan last month.

 

Leader of ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan killed in US drone strike, officials say

The leader of an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, who was responsible for a spate of recent bombings that left hundreds of civilians dead, was killed in an American drone strike, U.S. officials told Fox News on Sunday. The deputy spokesperson for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani announced the death of ISIS-K leader, Abu Sayeed Orakzai, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell said. “I would also add that the United States unrelentingly continues its counterterrorism efforts against ISIS-K, Al-Qaeda, and other regional and international terrorist groups,” O’Donnell said in a statement. The airstrikes were launched in the Nangarhar province, near the border with Pakistan, according to Agence France-Presse. Ten other ISIS fighters were also killed. Orakzai is at least the 3rd ISIS-K leader in Afghanistan killed in the past 2 years. The Islamic State has lost around 90 percent of the lands bordering Iraq and Syria since declaring a caliphate in June 2014. The killing of Orakzai comes just takes after an audio recording of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi apparently resurfaced, in which he congratulated his followers on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, an Islamic holiday, and referenced Turkey’s recent quarrel with the U.S. over its detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. He purportedly said “America is going through the worse time in its entire existence,” and said Russia was competing with the U.S. over regional influence and clout. Al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts has eluded captors since the rise of the Islamic State. His only public appearance was in 2014 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. His last know audio recording was released on Sept. 28, 2017, and there have been several reports of his death or injury. Next weekend, a new U.S. military commander will be taking over in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, the former head of Joint Special Operations Command which oversees the elite commando units Delta Force, SEAL Team 6 and the 75th Ranger Regiment. The U.S. military has doubled its air strikes in Afghanistan over the past year and increased them fivefold over 2016 levels.

Another Islamic wako killed.  Score another one for the good guys!  Excellent!!       🙂

Top U.S. Gen. Warns: Islamic State in Afghanistan ‘Harboring Intentions’ to Attack West

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) branch in Afghanistan has become a significant menace against the West despite the fall of the group’s caliphate in Iraq and Syria, a top American commander warned this week. In June, Brig. Gen. Lance R. Bunch, the top U.S. air commander in Afghanistan, noted that the ISIS wing has attempted to “establish” its own “caliphate” twice this year alone in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar along the Pakistan border, considered the group’s primary stronghold in the region. U.S.-NATO-assisted Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have so far managed to thwart the ISIS attempt to establish a caliphate in Afghanistan, Gen. Bunch declared. Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), charged with overseeing the war in Afghanistan, warned Pentagon reporters on Wednesday the American military is “concerned” ISIS in Afghanistan intends to attack the West. “I think we always have to be concerned about ISIS, whether it’s ISIS-K or whether it’s any of the other branches of it, harboring intentions to operate, you know, much more globally or externally from the areas in which they’re operating. And so, you know, we do have that concern about them,” Votel said. The ISIS branch in South Asia, which primarily operates in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is known as the Khorasan Province (ISIS-K). Asked whether the U.S. military is aware any links between ISIS-K and outside groups that would potentially carry out attacks in Europe or against the United States, Gen. Votel responded: “I think in general ISIS does have that intention.” When pressed to describe any actual plots by ISIS-K on the West, the top commander added, “I think there probably has been, but I can’t cite a specific example to you.” Back in October 2016, the U.S. military acknowledged that ISIS was “very focused on trying to establish their caliphate, the Khorasan caliphate, inside Afghanistan.” ISIS officially announced its presence in Afghanistan in early 2015, less than a year after the United States declared its combat mission over at the end of 2014. The U.S. has been assisting the Afghan forces in their fight against ISIS in their stronghold of Nangarhar. “We have killed numerous ISIS-K fighters this year,” Gen. Votel told reporters Wednesday. “The military campaign against ISIS has been both continuous and effective.” The general stressed that U.S. efforts towards “reconciliation” between Kabul and the Taliban, the primary goal of American President Donald Trump’s strategy to end to the nearly 17-year-old war, are separate from the fight to annihilate ISIS. “It is important to recognize that while we apply military pressure against the Taliban to bring them to the table of reconciliation, we harbor no illusion about reconciliation with ISIS-K; our mission is to destroy this organization,” he declared. Citing U.S. officials and the latest American intelligence estimates, Voice of America (VOA) reported this week that efforts to root out and decimate ISIS-K have “so far failed to prevent the terror group from maintaining a foothold in the country.” “IS-Khorasan is thought to have more than 1,000 fighters, most of them located in Afghanistan’s southern Nangarhar province, with a small number operating in the country’s eastern Kunar province,” VOA added. The ISIS branch reportedly reached a peak of 3,000 fighters in Afghanistan. According to a report from the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), ISIS-K was behind more than 50 percent of civilian casualties in the war-ravaged country through the first half of 2018. The University of Maryland’s renowned National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) listed ISIS-K among the 10 top prolifically deadliest terrorist group’s in the world last year, separate from core Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Last year, ISIS-K carried out 197 attacks, killing 1,302 people, the study revealed.

So, we’re VERY glad to hear GEN Votel say that his mission is “to destroy this organization.”  Outstanding!!  Having spent some time in Afghanistan myself, I’m thrilled to hear that we’re going on the offense again there.  Excellent!!     🙂

U.S. airstrikes targeting Islamic State surge 300 percent

American warplanes are working overtime against Islamic State targets in Syria, with the number of combat sorties in May against the terror group surging over 300 percent compared to recent months, says new airstrike figures released by command officials Friday. U.S. and coalition combat aircraft flew 225 airstrikes last month, hitting 280 known Islamic State or ISIS redoubts in Syria, located mostly in the volatile Euphrates River Valley, said American commanders with the U.S.-led counterterrorism mission Operation Inherent Resolve. During a single six-day period in May, American and allied fighter jets executed 41 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq, resulting in 49 enemy targets hit, coalition officials said in a statement. “This demonstrates a 304 percent increase over the 74 strikes conducted in March and a 123 percent increase over the 183 strikes recorded in April,” according to Friday’s statement. The majority of the airstrikes were carried out in support of Operation Roundup, the ground campaign led by the Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF — the American-backed coalition of Kurdish and Arab paramilitaries — to eliminate remaining pockets of ISIS resistance in the Euphrates River Valley. “Operation Roundup will continue to build momentum against Daesh remnants remaining in the Iraq-Syria border region and the [Euphrates River Valley],” command officials said in the statement, using the derogatory Arabic term for ISIS. “The Coalition remains committed to the lasting defeat of Daesh here, increasing peace and stability in the region and protecting all our homelands from the Daesh threat,” coalition officials added. Kicking off in early May, the operation is the first major anti-ISIS operation by the SDF and the American-led coalition since the fall of Raqqa — the terror group’s de facto Syrian capital and the heart of its so-called caliphate — in 2017. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters aboard the U.S.S Harry S. Truman carrier strike group began bombarding Islamic State positions in May, linking up with the Navy’s Sixth Fleet — which is responsible for U.S. maritime operations in Europe and North Africa — late last April, as part of the Pentagon’s seemingly final push to eradicate ISIS from its Syrian enclaves. On Thursday, Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said American advisers on the ground in Syria and their higher ups at the Pentagon were seeing good progress from the SDF. “We’re making progress, and, in concert with our SDF partners, I think that we’re beginning to clear out the final pockets of ISIS,” he told reporters during a Defense Department briefing. “We want to leave behind security elements that are going to be able to maintain [security] at the local level,” the three-star general said. “That’s sort of a long-term aim we have, as we push down the Euphrates River Valley, and that progress is continuing.”

American flag destroyed, replaced with ‘ISIS flag’ at Utah high school

An American flag at a high school in Southwest Utah was found destroyed and replaced with an ISIS flag Thursday, Fox 13 reported. An unknown perpetrator had taken down the flag at Hurricane High School, which is in the Washington County School District, and replaced it with “what looked like a flag used by ISIS,” police said. The American flag was left shredded at the scene. The words “ISIS is COMI” had been spray-painted on a wall on the school’s east side, KUTV reported. Ken Thompson, a spokesman for Hurricane Police department, said authorities don’t know if the perpetrator was a student or someone from outside the community. “Officers have received tips this morning and they’re following those leads and so far they haven’t generated a credible lead but tips can help us out a lot,” he said. Hurricane Police sent additional officers to the school Thursday to reassure students and faculty of their safety. Classes resumed normally on Thursday and will reportedly continue through Friday. Authorities released a statement saying school employees have replaced the “ISIS flag” with a new American flag, and removed the graffiti. Images of the ISIS flag were then sent to the FBI for analysis. “[B]ased on information we received from the FBI we do not believe this act was perpetrated by someone linked to the Islamic State,” Hurricane PD said in a statement. “This investigation is ongoing and investigators will continue to follow-up on leads.”

Hopefully they are able to identify the piece(s) of garbage who did this, arrest them and appropriately charge them.  Awful…

U.S. ramps up air war against Islamic State in Yemen as fight subsides in Iraq and Syria

As the fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria comes to a close, U.S. military and counterterrorism officials are setting their sights on the group’s growing presence in the war-torn country of Yemen. The number of U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State’s Yemeni faction has increased in the past several weeks as the mission for American drones and warplanes against the group’s bastions elsewhere in the Middle East ramp down. A trio of deadly strikes this month against Islamic State training camps in Yemen marks a refocus by American counterterrorism forces back onto the Gulf state that has been a regular target of U.S. forces battling the al Qaeda faction known as al Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula, or AQAP, for the past two decades. But strikes in the country this month are the first time Washington has gone after the Islamic State inside Yemen. The uptick in U.S. operations against the Yemeni-based Islamic State cells began in mid-October with an airstrike against a suspected camp in the country’s al Bayda governorate. The strike, which the Pentagon said was critical to “disrupting the organization’s attempts to train new fighters,” was the first such strike specifically targeting Islamic State in the country. On Wednesday, American forces launched a pair of airstrikes against another suspected target in al Bayda, reportedly killing nine jihadis tied to Yemen’s Islamic State factions. All told, American warplanes killed roughly 60 insurgents from the group during all three strikes, said Central Command officials, according to reports. “ISIS has used the ungoverned spaces of Yemen to plot, direct, instigate, resource and recruit for attacks against America and its allies around the world,” Pentagon officials said after the initial Oct. 9 strike, using an acronym for the group. “U.S. forces are supporting ongoing counterterrorism operations in Yemen against ISIS and AQAP to degrade the groups’ ability to coordinate external terror attacks and limit their ability to hold territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen,” Pentagon officials added. U.S. forces have launched over 100 airstrikes against al Qaeda in Yemen this year, according to figures compiled by the Washington-based think tank the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. The high rate of airstrikes this year under the Trump administration dwarfs the previous high of 46 strikes in 2016 ordered by President Obama.

French: Britain Should Seek Vengeance for Manchester, Not Justice Read

Let me share with you some deeply flawed words from the editorial board of the New York Times. I do this not because the Times is alone in its sentiment but because the paragraph below is perfectly representative of the wrong approach to fighting terror. Reflecting on the Manchester bombing, the editors say this: ” Meanwhile, as hard as it is amid the shock and the mourning, it is important to recognize this attack for what it is: an attempt to shake Britain — and, by extension, the rest of Europe and the West — to its core, and to provoke a thirst for vengeance and a desire for absolute safety so intense, it will sweep away the most cherished democratic values and the inclusiveness of diverse societies.” To the contrary, Britain should seek vengeance. And if terrorists want to provoke a climactic confrontation in the Middle East, then the West should give them the battle they crave. Why? Because they’ll lose. Because they’ll be slaughtered. Because they’ll be exposed as the violent hucksters they are. Underpinning the Times’s sentiment is the persistent, misguided belief that what we face isn’t a true war but rather a particularly challenging law-enforcement operation, in which armies stay largely sidelined, the cops do their work, and societies cope with terrorism in much the same way that they cope with other forms of criminal violence. For those who subscribe to this view, the fundamental response to terror — in addition to mourning the dead and expressing love and support for their families — is to find precisely the people responsible and punish them precisely with the penalties prescribed by law. If we achieve less, then police have failed. If our response sweeps beyond those responsible for the bad act, then we have committed our own injustices and thus perpetuated the cycle of hate and violence. In war, the goal is different. In war, the goal is to meet an attack with an overwhelming response — to find and punish those responsible for discrete acts, kill their allies, and annihilate their military organization. This martial act of vengeance and wrath — yes, vengeance — should be carried out in accordance with the laws of war, but the laws of war are no impediment to decisive military force. Vengeance by itself is not wrong. The manner of the vengeance and its object defines its morality and effectiveness. History is littered with examples of vengeance-motivated atrocities, but it is also full of cases where vengeance (or the threat of vengeance) motivated entire societies to defeat mortal threats and deter even worse calamities. The call for unconditional surrender in World War II was a departure from the norm in great-power conflicts, but it led to the ultimate defeat of Nazism and Japanese militarism, rather than to mere setbacks that would have allowed the Nazis and the Japanese to refit, re-arm, and try again. In multiple points throughout the Cold War, the threat of overwhelming retaliation kept conflicts limited, kept weapons of mass destruction off the field of battle, and helped the world avoid another catastrophic global conflict. By contrast, terrorists count on Western restraint. They often presume that we’ll be unwilling to do what it truly takes to destroy their safe havens or that we’ll grow weary of conflict and ultimately acquiesce to their demands. And all too many voices in the West are eager to oblige. When law enforcement isn’t enough to prevent attacks, and when carefully limited military strikes prove ineffective, they argue that we should look to address the “legitimate grievances” that are said to ultimately drive jihadist motivations. That is when terrorists win. There exists already a model for successful vengeance. Osama bin Laden wasn’t prepared for massive American retaliation after 9/11. He didn’t expect to lose his safe havens and the vast bulk of his fighters. He thought America would respond as it had before, with ineffective cruise-missile volleys or perhaps even the same timidity that followed the Battle of Mogadishu. In fact, he said as much, speaking of American weakness to Western reporters. But he was wrong: He met American strength, al-Qaeda was left in ruins, and the threat of terror eased for a time. In fact, there’s a consistent pattern to terrorist violence. When they obtain and maintain safe havens, jihadists are able to plan, train, inspire, and strike. When they are driven from their strongholds — pounded from the air and the ground — they lose much of their effectiveness and their appeal. Take your boot off their neck, and they rise again. So, Britain, ignore the New York Times. Give in to your “thirst for vengeance.” In a manner that is consistent with the laws of war and the great tradition of British arms, make an example of ISIS. Destroy terrorist safe havens with prompt, decisive force, pursue terrorists wherever they flee, and send a clear message. Terrorists have sown the wind. They will reap the whirlwind. Avenge your fallen.

Agreed!!  And well said, David!!  Attorney, and Army Reserve officer (Major), David French was the author of that politically Incorrect call to arms.  Excellent!!  🙂