IST Afghanistan Report

I try to keep the readers of IST up to date on the progress or lack there of in the war being fought in Afghanistan….after 17 years the American people still do not care that there are Americans fighting and dying in  this country.

Spring has arrived in Afghanistan and Summer lurks….this is the time the Taleban and AQ and ISIS pick to up their attacks and their for attacks….plus the US and its allies also will be planning and attacking……

Following Thursday’s announcement that the US will comply with Afghanistan’s Ramadan ceasefire, which covers the Taliban and will last until June 20, the Pentagon now says they intend to step up offensives against ISIS in Afghanistan.

This announcement is perhaps unsurprising, as the US has not committed itself to a peace process in Afghanistan, and has been steadily escalating its military forces in the country. ISIS remains a convenient alternative target while the Taliban is off-limits.

While this opens up a lot more US troops to carry out strikes against ISIS, what it will accomplish remains to be seen. The US and Afghan governments have both claimed to have wiped ISIS out in Nangarhar repeatedly, only for the group to reemerge, seemingly unharmed.

(antiwar.com)

An interesting announcement considering there are very few that know just how strong ISIS is in Afghanistan…..

There are statements after statements about the situation in Afghanistan….but maybe we should hold our admiration for the job being done…….

The Lead Inspector General (IG) for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel released its quarterly report to Congress last week, assessing the state of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. To put it mildly, the situation is not good. As Glenn Fine, the Principal Deputy IG for the Defense Department writes in the report’s foreword and executive summary, “the percentage of the population living in areas under the control or influence of the Afghan government showed little positive change this quarter,” while civilian casualties were “near record high levels.”

There were some small signs of promise, such as a modest decrease in “security-related incidents” — violence. From April to February, violence was below historical averages, and remains there, despite the Taliban’s Spring Offensive beginning in April. At the same time though, high profile attacks by the Taliban and ISIS spiked, and the Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats, has written that the security situation in Afghanistan will likely continue to decline this year.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/06/08/dont_buy_the_pentagons_statements_on_afghanistan_113520.html

Rest assured that IST will always keep its readers up to date on the news of all our theaters of conflict.

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ISIS: The Rest Of The Story

There is a name that we seldom hear any more…..ISIS.  You would think that the lack of information would signal the demise of this barbarous group, right?  You would be mistaken.

While ISIS may be dying slowly in Iraq and Syria that does not mean the this group is dying out completely……not at all…..

Since ISIS has slipped from the headlines maybe now would be a good time for a refresher course…..

Bottom Line: The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), has experienced significant territorial losses in its former self-declared caliphate that once spanned large swaths of eastern Syria and western Iraq. However, the group remains a potent international threat as it increasingly adopts conventional insurgent tactics, increases its focus on executing terrorist attacks in the West and doubles down on supporting affiliate organizations across the globe as well as lone wolf actors pursuing inspired attacks in their home countries.

Background: ISIS is the third reincarnation of al-Qaida in Iraq, a group that was originally formed in the aftermath of the Iraq War in 2004 and later changed its name to the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006.

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/threat-report-2018-isis-spotlight#.Wvnnf6psq-0

Before ISIS there was al-Qaeda (AQ)……with ISIS getting most of the press for the last several years ….has AQ disbanded?  Has AQ decided to play nice?

What happened to AQ after the death of Osama?

And I have found an answer to your questions……

In the past five years, only one attack in a Western country — the Kouachi brothers’ attack against Charlie Hebdo in January 2015 — can be connected to al-Qaeda. Why did the once infamous and feared group halt its terror campaign in the West? Part of the explanation is that al-Qaeda has indeed suffered from targeted killings of senior operatives, making it harder for the group to plan and execute international attacks, and that regional events in the Middle East have enhanced the attractiveness of a local focus as opposed to conducting attacks in the West. Equally important to understand al-Qaeda’s changing priorities, however, is the rise of the Islamic State as a competing jihadi outfit and its ensuing terror campaign in the West. Intra-jihadi dynamics affect rival jihadi groups’ priorities for attacks. I outlined this argument in a recent article, Jihadi Competition and Political Preferences, which contends that intra-jihadi competition has played an important role in the changing enemy hierarchies of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State since 2014. Now, with the decline of the Islamic State, will al-Qaeda once again focus on launching attacks in (and not just against) the West?

https://warontherocks.com/2018/04/with-islamic-state-in-decline-whats-al-qaedas-next-move/

As you can see if you have read these reports…..these groups may be out of mind but they are not gone……

Do not let our attention be diverted…..please.

Just When Afghanistan Means Nothing

Afghanistan has not been in the headlines much lately although reports about the war have been regularly written about here on IST…..well that came to an end yesterday when an attack in the capital of Kabul was reported…..

An ISIS suicide bomber attacked a voter registration center in Afghanistan’s capital on Sunday, killing at least 57 people and wounding more than 100 others, officials say. Public Health Ministry spokesman Wahid Majro says that among the 57 killed, 22 were women and eight were children. He says 119 people were wounded, among them 17 children and 52 women, and “the tolls could still rise,” the AP reports. The bomber targeted civilians who were registering for national identification cards, Kabul police chief Gen. Daud Amin says.

The large explosion echoed across the city, shattering windows miles from the attack site and damaging nearby vehicles. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency, saying it had targeted Shiite “apostates.” The attack comes almost a month after an ISIS suicide bomber carried out an attack near a Shiite shrine in Kabul that targeted attendees celebrating the Persian new year. That attack killed 31 people and wounded 65 others. A statement issued by the president’s office condemned Sunday’s attack and quoted President Ashraf Ghani as saying such “terrorist attacks” won’t prevent people from participating in upcoming parliamentary elections.

There you have it…ISIS Sleeper cells…..there has been much written about their possibilities….some pundits even went as far as to call it wishful thinking….just ano0ther story to keep the War on Terror money flowing….

But these “sleeper cells” are a reality that needs to be acknowledged……

Over the past four weeks, ISIS has run a series of articles in its weekly Arabic publication on a vital aspect of the type of threat posed by the organisation today. The central theme relates to how members, who are so far laying low during a military campaign against them, could regroup and resume operations after months of what the group describes as a “slumber” period.

The extensive coverage dedicated to this topic is timely. It follows a noticeable uptick in the group’s operations in recent months in much of Iraq and Syria, in both quantity and quality, since the beginning of the year, according to a senior official in the anti-ISIS global coalition.

https://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/we-have-not-yet-seen-the-full-impact-of-isis-sleeper-cells-coming-back-to-life-1.722796

AS ISIS loses its “territory” these “cells” will become more and more important to the existence of this group.

ISIS And The Future

ISIS is a subject that we seldom hear about anymore….it just cannot seem to break through the news cycle there are just too many lawyers standing in the way….I revisit this subject because…well someone needs to keep the public focused on real threats and not the manufactured crap we have daily…….

We have had some “good” news lately it is reported that ISIS is on their back foot and we could expect their total defeat any day now…..it is not that cut and dry……

Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), which oversees the coalition to defeat the Islamic State, warned today that “much work remains to defeat” Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s organization in Iraq and Syria. The U.S.-led coalition’s statement is at odds with the Trump administration’s stated position earlier this week.

The White House claimed on Apr. 4 that the “military mission to eradicate ISIS in Syria is coming to a rapid end, with ISIS being almost completely destroyed.” The remaining ISIS presence in Syria is “small,” according to the White House’s statement, which did not mention Iraq.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/04/09/us-led_coalition_says_much_work_remains_to_defeat_to_isis_113298.html

The neocon think tank, The Brookings, has something to say about the possibility of an ISIS 2.0……..

American and international strategy towards the horrific conflict in Syria is at a crossroads. ISIS has been largely defeated militarily on the physical battlefield. The top goal of both President Obama and President Trump has been partially achieved, through a strategy they both helped develop and implement. The temptation for Americans in general, and the Trump administration specifically, may be to declare victory and go home—as in fact Trump has just signaled he would like to do, as soon as possible.

That would not be a good idea. Trump deserves credit for his success in Syria, but it represents an interim goal, not a durable achievement. Withdrawing U.S. forces, security assistance, economic aid and diplomatic engagement risks allowing a war that has killed half a million and displaced 12 million to continue—or worse, to expand into a truly regional war.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/04/07/how-do-we-prevent-isis-2-0-withdrawing-from-syria-is-not-the-answer/

The topic to keep in mind is that ISIS can be beaten by defeat, a total defeat, is another thing all together.

ISIS is dwindling but do not forget them….that would be disastrous.

What The Hell Happened To ISIS?

#######Warning:  Strong language to follow######

The question pertains to Al-Qaeda also…..

The news these days is a porn queen and lawyers and Russia….what the fuck happen to those darn pesky radical Islamic extremists?  Did we kick the a/holes back to the Stone Age?

First of all, if you have ever been to Iraq or Syria these days that Age would not be a very long goddamn trip.

But really…what the shit is going on with our well funded War on Terror?

These are the question that a well informed American should be asking…..but Nooooooo they are too goddamn busy slobbering over some large boob blonde and her duel with the Donald.

If you have had enough of this damn silly lawyer fest then let me take you to where the rubber hits the road…..

The Middle East is far from fucking rid of the terrorists……..

No amount of money, reconstruction, or reconciliation will undo the cumulative effects of decades of collective war in Iraq and Syria. Once this conclusion is accepted, it is productive to define what the current insurgency evolves from and may become. To provide a baseline of understanding, an insurgency can be defined as an “insurrection against an existing government, usually one’s own, by a group not recognized as having the status of a belligerent.” The next generation of belligerents will give a sense of unpleasant familiarity to those they face as they redefine ways and means to unchanged ends. This article will explore the vague future for insurgencies in the region and attempt to add clarity to what the insurgencies that may rise from the ashes of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) could look like. This article will also prescribe ways the Iraqi government, local governments in western Iraq and eastern Syria, and the international community, can mitigate the drivers of these insurgencies.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/03/15/post-isis_antagonists_and_the_looming_struggle_113201.html

Then there is AQ…….the lack of news would have you believe that we have kicked their asses and the death of Big Bad Bin Laden has ended their stranglehold on the terror genre…..if so then you are so fucking wrong…..

While the self-proclaimed Islamic State has dominated the headlines and preoccupied national security officials for the past four years, al-Qaeda has been quietly rebuilding. Its announcement last summer of another affiliate—this one dedicated to the liberation of Kashmir—coupled with the resurrection of its presence in Afghanistan and the solidification of its influence in Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, underscores the resiliency and continued vitality of the United States’ preeminent terrorist enemy.

Although al-Qaeda’s rebuilding and reorganization predates the 2011 Arab Spring, the upheaval that followed helped the movement revive itself. At the time, an unbridled optimism among local and regional rights activists and Western governments held that a combination of popular protest, civil disobedience, and social media had rendered terrorism an irrelevant anachronism. The longing for democracy and economic reform, it was argued, had decisively trumped repression and violence. However, where the optimists saw irreversible positive change, al-Qaeda discerned new and inviting opportunities.

https://www.cfr.org/expert-brief/al-qaedas-resurrection

On so many levels this is far more important than the lawyers and the Russian accusations…..

Remember ISIS or Al-Qaeda?

Just two years ago you could not sling a dead cat and not hit stories and blogs about those bastards in terrorism…..and yet today few have nothing to say….the terrorists have been replace by porn stars and lawyers…..and that is why I am here to remind my readers that these bastards have not gone away.

According to most uninformed people ISIS has been defeated……not really accurate…

Nearly three years on from the Islamic State’s high water mark in the summer of 2015, there are several lessons that the United States and its allies can discern from the terrorist group’s meteoric rise to control large parts of Iraq and Syria to the loss of its physical caliphate late last year. The steady decline in ISIL’s fortunes is striking given the palpable fear its rise in the summer of 2014 sparked across Washington, when a common question circulating within the policy community was whether Baghdad itself might fall. Many of these takeaways will be relevant to U.S. policymakers as they attempt to prevent the group from reconstituting itself in the coming months.

https://warontherocks.com/2018/03/10-takeaways-from-the-fight-against-the-islamic-state/

The thing to keep in mind is that ISIS is not a global force….they have tentacles in many places but that does not mean they are a global force……

The killing of three people in the south of France by a man claiming allegiance to Isis will make people doubt if this murderous cult is as dead as governments had announced and people had hoped. The answer is that the attack in the Carcassonne region by a single gunman, said to be a Moroccan petty criminal from the area, proves very little about the strength of Isis as a continuing threat.

It will always be easy for a single killer, who in this case has been named as 36-year-old Redouane Lakdim, to shoot down passers-by chosen at random or trapped in a supermarket. Lakdim demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, a survivor of the Isis gang which killed 130 people in Paris on 13 November 2015, but there is no evidence so far that the killer, who has been shot dead by police, was part of a cell or that this was an attack organised from above or from outside the country.

http://www.unz.com/pcockburn/isis-inspired-terrorism-gives-impression-its-a-global-force-its-not/

ISIS is licking its wounds but that does not mean it has been defeated or eliminated.

Eyes wide open!

Then there is a term we do not hear much for a couple of years now….Al-Qaeda…

Many people thought that with the death of their leader Osama bin Laden that the group had lost the head of the snake and it would fade away.

It faded but not away.

After the deaths of Osama bin Laden and several other leaders in 2011 and 2012, followed by the rise of Islamic State, many considered al-Qaeda ‘a spent force’. But in an important brief, (with an expanded version for the Lowy Institute), leading terrorism scholar Bruce Hoffman argues that Ayman al-Zawahiri has used the past seven years to rebuild al-Qaeda. So while counterterrorism specialists have celebrated the rolling up of Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’, al-Qaeda’s resurgence shows that much work remains to be done.

Zawahiri cut his teeth in Egypt’s jihadi culture—he was arrested at 15, joined the Muslim Brotherhood and later led Egyptian Islamic Jihad—but he’s no charismatic leader. Following the death of Osama bin Laden and the rise of the Islamic State, Zawahiri opted to focus on three key objectives.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/03/22/al-qaeda_3_turning_to_face_the_near_enemy_113237.html

There…you, my reader, have been caught up as best I can without top secret clearance……please do not think this fight is over…..far from.

Where Have All The Terrorists Gone?

With the silliness in Washington these days has pushed the once feared terrorists to the back page of the newspaper……so has our president totally done the unthinkable a beat down ISIS and/or AQ?

It is a good thought and you can believe it if you choose….but it is far from accurate……

On January 19, the Pentagon released its new National Defense Strategy. The second paragraph of the 14-page declassified summary painted a dire picture. “Today, we are emerging from a period of strategic atrophy, aware that our competitive military advantage has been eroding,” the Defense Department warned. “We are facing increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing rules-based international order—creating a security environment more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory. Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.”

That last line garnered widespread attention. It signaled that defense planners no longer want the jihadist wars unleashed by the 9/11 attacks to be their primary focus. The rest of the overview explained why. China is now a “strategic competitor,” while Russia seeks to “shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor.” Both China and Russia “want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model—gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.” Meanwhile, rogue states such as North Korea and Iran increasingly pose threats to American interests. While the Defense Department recognizes that ISIS and other “terrorist groups” will continue “to murder the innocent and threaten peace more broadly,” Washington must shift its focus to “long-term strategic competition.”

http://www.weeklystandard.com/not-so-fast/article/2011618

There is more information on the terrorists organizations……

The annual accounting to Congress of global threats to the United States made it sound like al-Qaida’s separate branches were managing to thrive independently of one another, said Bruce Hoffman, Cipher Brief expert and Council on Foreign Relations visiting senior fellow, in comments to The Cipher Brief. But Hoffman believes the Worldwide Threat Assessment presented to Congress Tuesday failed to acknowledge that al-Qaida is following a very careful and deliberate strategy to establish its separate branches as pillars on which to build future growth.

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/exclusive/middle-east/threat-assessment-fail-al-qaida-quietly-growing-design

Now that should clear up and misinformation you might have on these groups….they are far from a thing of the past and will probably just as dangerous as they have been in the past.