Posts tagged ‘ISIL’

FRIDAY FOTO (July 1, 2016)

Don’t Blink.

160628-N-KK394-143

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anderson W. Branch

This is what a U.S. Navy Super Hornet looks like a split second before it launches off the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. This F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86 — known as the Sidewinders — was captured by the camera just before departing the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the Mediterranean Sea.

Just behid and to the left of the Super Hornet, you can see the steam cloud rising from the steam-powered catapult that essentially hurls aircraft off the carrier deck which is too short for a normal takeoff. Click here to see a video of a catapult assisted carrier launch.

The Eisenhower is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led campaign against the violent extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State. The U.S. government calls the Islamist terror group the Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Air crews from the “Ike” launched strikes against the Islamic State/ISIL forces in Iraq starting Tuesday (June 28), according to Navy Times. The Eisenhower relieved the homeward-bound USS Harry S. Truman, which has been on station in the Eastern Mediterranean since December, supporting the 6th Fleet’s campaign against the terrorist group.

 

July 1, 2016 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT: British Strike on ISIS/ISIL; Pakistan’s First In-House Drone Attack; Secret U.S. Drone Campaign [UPDATE]

Drone Wars.

Updates with new 3rd item item on secret drone campaign against Islamic State, reported by the Washington Post.

 

RAF Reaper drone (Royal Air Force/Ministry of Defence photo)

RAF Reaper drone
(Royal Air Force/Ministry of Defence photo)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for military unmanned aircraft around the world: Britain launched its first drone strike against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) … Pakistan launched the first homegrown drone strike against terrorists within its borders … and a secret U.S. drone campaign in the war against the Islamic State was revealed by the Washington Post.

Britain-Syria.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told parliament Monday (September 7) that he had approved an air strike against a vehicle carrying a British jihadist in Syria. Cameron said the dead man — identified as Reyaad Khan — was plotting attacks against Britain, Reuters reported.

The Hellfire missile strike was launched from an RAF General Atomics Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) remotely piloted from a hi-tech control hub at RAF Waddington, the British newspaper the Daily Mail reported.

Despite the absence of a parliamentary mandate to take military action in Syria, Cameron told MPs that, as an act of self-defence, Khan had been targeted and killed in a Royal Air Force (RAF) precision drone strike in the country. Cameron said that two people traveling with Khan, including another Briton, Ruhul Amin, were also killed. “There was a terrorist directing murder on our streets and no other means to stop him,” Cameron said. “We took this action because there was no alternative,” he added, calling the air strike “entirely lawful.”

But the August 21 drone strike has prompted criticism that the government disregarded the intent of a 2013 vote that rejected allowing air attacks against Syrian targets, the New York Times reported. Critics in and out of politics say the Cameron government is on shaky ground in approving the killing of Britons abroad without a full legal process.

But British defense minister Michael Fallon said Tuesday (September 8) Britain will not hesitate to carry out more deadly drone strikes against militants in Syria planning attacks on the United Kingdom, Reuters reported (via Yahoo).

*** *** ***

Pakistan.

Also on Monday (September 7) Pakistan said it used its first-ever armed drone in an airstrike that killed three ‘‘high-profile’’ militants near the Afghan border, according to an army statement, the Associated Press reported. The missiles hit a compound in the Shawal valley of the Waziristan tribal region, the army statement said.

Narayanese - Map of Pakistan and Waziristan by Narayanese via Wikipedia

Narayanese – Map of Pakistan and Waziristan by Narayanese via Wikipedia

No other details have been made available about those killed or whether any civilians were among the victims. The area is not accessible for reporters and aid workers, the Voice of America reported.

Parts of the Waziristan region are still believed to be serving as hideouts for militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban and fugitive commanders of the Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan. The area has been the focus for nearly a decade of a U.S. drone campaign to eliminate extremist bases from the Pakistani border region, and to defuse the threat they pose to coalition and Afghan forces across the border, according to VOA.

The armed drone, called Burraq, was used for the first time since its development in November 2013. Director General of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Bajwa announced the first ever use of the UAV on his Twitter page adding that a terrorist compound was hit and three militants were killed in the air strike carried out by “Burraq,” the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported. However, the newspaper noted that the tweet could not be independently verified “as reporters have limited access to the restive agency.”

The Pakistan Army tested a Burraq armed with laser-guided Barq missile for the first time on March 14, Dawn said. Both th Burraq drone and Barq missile, have been indigenously developed, according to the army.

*** *** ***

United States.

The Washington Post reported last week (September 1) that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and U.S. Special Operations forces have launched a secret campaign to hunt terrorism suspects in Syria. The drone campaign is part of a targeted killing program that is run separately from the broader U.S. military offensive against the Islamic State, according to U.S. officials cited by the Post.

The CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) are flying drones over Syria in an effort responsible for several recent strikes against senior Islamic State operatives, the officials said. Among those killed was a British militant thought to be an architect of the effort by the terrorist group (also known as ISIS and ISIL) to use social media to incite attacks in the United States, the officials said.

According to the Post the clandestine program represents a significant escalation of the CIA’s involvement in the war in Syria, enlisting the agency’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC) against a militant group that many officials believe has eclipsed al Qaeda as a threat. Officials told the Post the program is aimed at terrorism suspects deemed “high-value targets.”

Spokesmen for the CIA and the U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversees JSOC, declined to comment. Other officials would discuss the program only on the condition of anonymity, the Post said.

September 9, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO –Extra– (August 28, 2015)

Waiting for Fuel.

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Queen

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Queen

A U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jet  waits to receive fuel from an Air Force KC-135 Stratotankerwhile flying over Al Udeid Base in Qatar. Coalition forces fly daily missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,the air war against the self-styled Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Please click on the photo to enlarge the image and see details.

August 28, 2015 at 10:52 pm Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: SOFIC Trade Show Opens

…in a Complex World.

Multi-national special operations forces participated in an outdoor demonstration at last year's SOFIC in Tampa. (4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

Multi-national special operations forces participated in an outdoor demonstration at last year’s SOFIC in Tampa.
(4GWAR photo by John M. Doyle)

TAMPA, Florida — Few events could better illustrate the theme — Winning in a Complex World — of a special operations forces industry conference opening today than the good news/bad news coming the Middle East last week.

On Friday (May 15) U.S. Army Delta Force commandos killed a key leader of the Islamic State group in a daring helicopter raid inside war torn Syria. About a dozen Islamic State fighters were killed in the brief but intense firefight. No U.S. forces were killed or injured although at least one helicopter was riddled with bullets.

Two days later (May 17) word came that Islamic State fighters had captured Ramadi, seizing a large cache of weapons in the capital of Iraq’s largest province just 60 miles west of Baghdad — despite U.S. air strikes and other support.

The United States is being challenged on a number of fronts around the world from violent extremist organizations across Africa and the Middle East to transnational narcotics cartels corrupting governments in Latin America and West Africa.

Russia and China are flexing their muscles and bullying their neighbors. And there are still the challenges posed by North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan.

And on the front line of these and other hotspots around the world are U.S. special Operations Forces (SOF) tasked with training partner nation militaries, keeping tabs on threatening groups, rescuing hostages and killing or capturing terrorists.

In Tampa this week, leaders of U.S. Special Operations Command USSOCOM) — which oversees the training and equipping of Green Berets, Navy Seals, Marine Raiders, Air Commandos and other SOF units, will be explaining their needs — and their funding constraints — to industry.  At that same time, hundreds of manufacturers and vendors at the National Defense Industry Association’s 2015 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference will be showing the equipment, technologies and services they believe will help SOCOM complete its varied missions. Your 4GWAR editor is here to listen to both groups.

May 19, 2015 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

COUNTER TERRORISM: Understanding the Islamic State Threat

Fighting a Radical Tide on Social Media.

Islamic State insurgents in Iraq's Anbar Province in 2014. (Wikipedia)

Islamic State insurgents in Iraq’s Anbar Province in 2014.
(Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — You’ve seen them on TV or the Internet: faces masked, waving black flags and AK-47s , videotaping heinous acts of barbarism against soldiers and civilians that fall into their hands. They call themselves the Islamic State.

But what is the United States and its allies to do about the growing number of people from around the world — the CIA estimates 10,000 — flocking to Iraq and Syria, pledging allegiance to this self-styled caliphate, a terrorist group so vicious its parent organization, al Qaeda, disowned them?

Two professors at the National War College tackled that and other questions Monday (April 6) in a briefing at the National Press Club sponsored by the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative.

Dr. Richard Andres said the group has been very successful using social media to recruit new members and raise money. Despite the disturbing images of beheadings and other violence that IS has spread across the Internet, despite the knowledge that Islamic State practices severe Sharia law that calls for stoning, flogging and mutilating wrongdoers, hundreds of mostly young people are leaving their homes in Europe, the Americas, North Africa and Asia to join IS and risk their lives in a war zone. The group is also called ISIL (for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) by the U.S. government and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) by others.

Andres, professor of National Security Strategy at the War College, says social media takes advantage of two psychological quirks: People are attracted to the sensational, whether it be lurid gossip or disturbing images, and will click on a webpage to see it. People are also “attracted to things that confirm our existing biases,” Andres said, so the politically unsophisticated or economically frustrated are drawn in to view more and more outrageous information.Soon they’re hearing just one side of the story and straying farther and farther from mainstream cultural attitudes. This is especially true in undemocratic regimes where the government controls the media. If you can’t trust mainstream media in your country, Andres said, you’re going to be drawn toward more radical information. The message IS sends of fighting repression and exploitation by the West “resonates with young people,” playing on their desire to initiate change and fight injustice.

Dr. Omer Taspinar said most of Islamic State’s new recruits are believed to come — not from the poor and downtrodden of Middle Eastern slums — but from middle and working class immigrant families in Britain, Germany, Italy, France and other European countries. While these radicalized young Muslims are often educated and have grown up in democratic societies, social and economic inequality still play a role in what Taspinar called “relative deprivation.” Dissatisfaction grows with unmet aspirations and expectations of a good job, family and a better life until, in some cases, it becomes unbearable. “It’s about the gap between opportunities and expectations,” he added.

This frustration leads to a feeling of alienation. “They become rebels looking for a cause,” and that makes them susceptible to radical propaganda on social media, said Taspinar, whose expertise includes political economy and Europe, the Middle East and Turkey. Both he and Andres stressed they were expressing their own views and not those of the National War College or the U.S. government.

Islamic State's territories in Syria and Iraq. CLICK TO ENLARGE (Map from the Institute for the Study of War)

Islamic State’s territories in Syria and Iraq. CLICK TO ENLARGE
(Map from the Institute for the Study of War)

Here at the 4GWAR Blog we’ve written often about the Department of Homeland Security’s concerns that American citizens who have been radicalized and served with Islamic State’s insurgencies in Syria and Iraq may return home with dangerous military skills that could be used for terrorist attacks.

Andres said the United States needs to get better at countering radical propaganda on the Web, not an easy task in a country where free speech is enshrined in the Constitution and spying on citizens is unlawful and unpopular. Unlike Russia and China, “the U.S. can’t stop people from saying what they want online,” he added. While the U.S. State Department has a small, underfunded program to challenge radical Islamist propaganda “it’s only a drop in the bucket,” Andres said.

“Not all radicals become terrorists,” Taspinar said, adding that the United States should do what it can at home and abroad to encourage tolerance. He suggested that helping autocratic regimes in the Middle East sends the wrong message to disaffected Muslim youth. Countries with good governance and rule of law can “afford” to be tolerant, he said but “once you lose your sense of security and are threatened by many enemies, you lose your sense of tolerance.” Taspinar noted that after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, “the U.S. lost its sense of security. It feels much more vulnerable and it became much harder to be a Muslim in America after 9/11.”

April 6, 2015 at 7:59 pm Leave a comment

COUNTERTERRORISM: Obama Strategy for Countering Violent Extremist Groups

Long War Strategy.

President Barack Obama and National Security Adviser in the Oval Office. (White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and National Security Adviser Susan Rice in the Oval Office.
(White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama says the United States is not at war with Islam. Rather,  “we are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” he told officials from more than 60 nations at a three-day summit on countering violent extremism that ended Thursday (February 19).

The White House called the Washington gathering — following a wave of recent terrorist attacks in Canada, France, Australia and Denmark — to develop an international coalition to wage an ideological battle against violent extremist organizations such as the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) in parts of Syria and Iraq, and radical Islamist groups like Boko Haram in West Africa and al Shabaab on the Horn of Africa in the eastern part of the country.

Among the tactics proposed was delivering a strong message to young people to counter the propaganda and recruitment efforts of extremist groups through social media. “We must acknowledge that groups like al Qaeda and ISIL, are deliberately targeting their propaganda to Muslim communities, particularly Muslin youth,” Obama said, adding: Muslim communities, including scholars and clerics therefore have a responsibility to push back, not just on twisted interpretations of Islam, but also on the lie that we are somehow engaged in a clash of civilizations; that America and the West are somehow at war with Islam or seek to suppress Muslims; or that we are the cause of every ill in the Middle East. ”

As a step in that direction, Obama said the United States was joining with the United Arab Emirates (UAE, a Gulf State), to create a new digital communications hub to work with religious and civil society and community leaders to counter terrorist propaganda.

Obama also called on foreign leaders to cut off funding “that fuels hatred and corrupts young minds.” He also called for free elections, religious and ethnic tolerance.”We have to address the political grievances that terrorists exploit.” But a number of the countries represented at the meeting, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Uganda, are far from democratic and tolerant, the New York Times noted.

And conservatives and Republicans criticized Obama’s emphasis on expanding human rights, religious tolerance and peaceful dialogue. “The solution here is not expanded Medicaid. The solution is the full force of U.S. military power to destroy the leaders of ISIS,” Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican and possible presidential candidate told Politico. “They have declared war … jihad on the United States. Jihad is another word the president doesn’t say.”

Critics like Cruz have also complained that Obama doesn’t use terms like “Muslim,” “Islamic” or “jihadist,” when talking about Middle East terrorism. The White House says its part of strategy to avoid giving credence to the IS doctrine that the West is at war with Islam.

February 20, 2015 at 12:58 am Leave a comment

COUNTER TERRORISM: Pakistan Crackdown; Air Strikes on ISIS/ISIL; al Shabab Leader Nabbed [UPDATE]

Islamabad Gets Tough.

Pakistan map via CIA World Factbook

Pakistan map via CIA World Factbook

Ten days after a Taliban attack on an army-run school that left 148 people dead – most of them children – Pakistan’s government is giving the military a blank check for two years to do whatever it takes to finish the country’s protracted battle with Islamic terrorists.

According to a McClatchy Newspapers website, the government response was broadened from the Taliban Movement of Pakistan — which has waged a bloody insurgency since July 2007 — to all jihadist and sectarian militants on Pakistani soil. That decision echoes Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s December 17 vow, not to differentiate between so-called “good and bad Taliban,” McClatchy reported.

The military’s nationwide campaign, launched in June with a massive offensive in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas, is being closely watched by the United States and other countries to see whether it includes Pakistan-based militant groups that have repeatedly attacked neighboring Afghanistan and India, according to McClatchy.

On December 17 – the day after the Peshawar school massacre – Prime Minister Sharif ordered an end a to six-year moratorium on capital punishment. Pakistan’s interior ministry has approved the execution of 400 people convicted of terrorism offenses prior to 2008. In all, there more than 3,000 convicted terrorists on death row — all of whom are to be hanged. Six people have already been handed, the BBC reported.

An additional 6,000 suspected terrorists and their supporters have been targeted for arrest in the nationwide crackdown and summary trial in military courts.

*** *** ***

Strikes on ISIL/ISIS

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets depart after refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over Iraq, Oct. 30, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets depart after refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over Iraq, Oct. 30, 2014. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Perry Aston)

The U.S. military and its allies carried out 12 airstrikes against ISIL/ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria on December 27, Reuters reported.

Six strikes near the Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border destroyed Islamic State buildings, fighting positions and vehicles, according to the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs office.  In Iraq, targets including buildings, vehicles and an Islamic State refinery were hit in six strikes near Al Asad, Mosul, Falluja, Al Qaim and Baiji, it said.

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve — which aims to eliminate the ISIL/ISIS terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In Syria, coalition airstrike partners include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the Combined Join Task Force.

*** *** ***

Al Shabab Leader Captured

Authorities in Somalia say they have captured one of the most wanted commanders of the African Islamist terror group, al Shabab.

Zakariye Ismail Hersi was captured in a raid Saturday morning (December 26) in the town of El Wak near the border with Kenya, according to the Voice of America.

General Abbas Ibrahim Gurey, the commander of Somali government troops in the southern Gedo region, told VOA’s Somali service that authorities received a tip from members of the public that al-Shabab suspects were hiding in a house. Gurey said that Hersi was captured with his secretary and without a struggle.

In June 2012, the U.S. put a $3 million reward for the capture of Hersi, describing him as an associate of former al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. Godane was killed in a U.S. airstrike in September.

Hersi’s capture comes after militants with the group, which is linked to al Qaeda, attacked a large African Union base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, last week (December 25). Three Ugandan soldiers and a civilian were killed, said CNN. Al-Shabaab has said that attack was revenge for the U.S. airstrike that killed Godane. The State Department had offered a $7 million reward for information on Godane’s location.

December 28, 2014 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

TERRORISM: The Widening Syria-Iraq Threat

 Deja vu all over again

Iraq map by CIA World Factbook

Iraq map by CIA World Factbook

Syria, courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War

Syria, courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War

Back in February, 4GWAR reported that new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson was troubled by foreign jihadists streaming into war-torn Syria, which was turning into an incubator for future terrorists.

Speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, Johnson said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had become “very focused” on foreign fighters heading to Syria, where foreign Islamists have radicalized and complicated the three-year civil war with the Bashar al-Assad regime. The DHS concern is what these fighters will do when they return to their home countries or travel elsewhere, indoctrinated with a violent Islamist mission.

Then in April we reported on another threat emanating from Syria: the rise of the Iranian-backed, Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia as a military force in Syria. In a report, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), another Washington think tank, said that Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia which has been battling Israel and the West for decades, has become a major player in the Syrian conflict.

Hezbollah has been designated as a Global Terrorist organization by the United States since 1995 for a long history of terrorist attacks against American citizens and officials – including the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon during the 1980s.

ISIS Territory in Syria and Iraq Red is area controlled by ISIS Yellow is area claimed by ISIS Via iukipedia

ISIS Territory in Syria and Iraq
Red is area controlled by ISIS
Yellow is area claimed by ISIS
(Via Wikipedia)

Now this: President Barrack Obama says he is sending up to 300 special operations forces to assess the situation on the ground in Iraq, where forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have captured several cities in northern and western Iraq in a sweeping attack out of Syria.

But Obama made clear that he will hold back more substantial support for Iraq – including U.S. Airstrikes – until he sees a direct threat to U.S. Personnel or a more inclusive and capable Iraqi government, according to the Washington Post.

At the White House, Obama said “American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq, but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region, and American interests as well.”

Obama, who withdrew U.S. troops from Iraq in 2011, said he’s positioned “additional U.S. military assets in the region. Because of our increased intelligence resources, we’re developing more information about potential targets associated with ISIL. And going forward, we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action, if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it. If we do, I will consult closely with Congress and leaders in Iraq and in the region.”

But Obama emphasized “that the best and most effective response to a threat like ISIL will ultimately involve partnerships where local forces, like Iraqis, take the lead.”

 

 

June 19, 2014 at 10:54 pm Leave a comment


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