Follow The Leader

May I see a show of hands….how many here knows the name al-Baghdadi?

Really?  The self-proclaimed leader of the caliphate that ISIS wanted to bring into existence.  Well their efforts did not pan out the way they had desired.

During the long war with ISIS there were reports after reports of the death or injury to the leader of ISIS. al-Baghdadi……for instance…..

https://lobotero.com/2015/05/15/al-baghdadi-its-alive/

https://lobotero.com/2014/07/23/the-road-to-al-baghdadi/

His name has fallen from the desired topics of the MSM but the man with 9 lives has a new territory to work.  Afghanistan.

Yep this man has made is way to Afghanistan and to take up the cause of the ISIS activity in the country.

Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi recently escaped to Afghanistan via Iran, it emerged this weekend.

Al-Baghdadi is believed to have reached Nangarhar Province, situated east of the Afghan capital Kabul, on the border with Pakistan. According to Pakistani security sources, Al-Baghdadi crossed through the Iranian city of Zahedan, where Iran borders the southwest tip of Afghanistan, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

Asharq Al-Awsat added that “according to the sources, ISIS [Daesh] manages a location to host its fighters in Zahedan in cooperation with [Iran’s] Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)”. Such allegations of cooperation between the IRGC and Daesh will be seen as significant in light of Iran’s participation in the Syrian civil war against such terrorist groups. Iran has supported forces loyal to the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, as well as seemingly allowed IRGC forces to be present on the ground in Syria.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180924-daeshs-al-baghdadi-escapes-to-afghanistan/

Now the Taleban and AQ have been in a power struggle for about a year and now it appears that ISIS will join the mix for control.

Or maybe al-Baghdadi wants to be closer so that he can direct ops against Iran…..

The Islamic State jihadist group on Wednesday threatened to carry out new attacks in Iran, days after it claimed a deadly shooting at a military parade in the country’s southwest.

Iran is “flimsier than a spider’s web, and with God’s help, what comes will be worse and more bitter,” the group said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/islamic-state-threatens-iran-with-more-attacks/

Keep in mind where the above story originated……may not be the most reliable source.  It is interesting because Israel had told so many lies about Iran to garner some sort of armed response against the country….would they now jump in bed with ISIS to do their bidding?  Just a thought.

This guy sure gets around after being killed at least twice and mortally wounded numerous times…..how will he play in Afghanistan?

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Then There Is Syria

By the lack of coverage in the MSM one could draw a conclusion that the armed conflict in Syria was winding down….not so …..so to help evweryone understand I would like to give some info that the media is avoiding for one reason or another…..

A situation map by the Institute for the Study of War…….

(ISIS controlled area is in black)

First American policy……

https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/26145/america-s-syria-policy-is-incoherent-and-there-s-no-sign-it-will-change

Plus Trump has made another monumental decision……

Addressing an infrastructure event in Ohio on March 29, President Donald Trump declared that the United States would be departing Syria sooner rather than later“We are going to have 100 percent of the [Islamic State] caliphate… But we are going to be coming out of there real soon,” Trump told a roomful of his supporters. “We are going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be.” And In case one thought such a declaration was simply a throwaway line at a public event, Trump put that to rest at the White House days later: “I want to get out, I want to bring the troops back home, I want to start rebuilding our nation.Five months after the president made those remarks, it appears as if the administration’s Syria policy has shifted in the opposite direction. The same establishment forces within the administration who have publicly admitted to restraining the president’s policy instincts may now very well be involved in boxing the United States into one more long-term, strategically amoral military and economic commitment in the Middle East.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-29/html/container.html

 The United States will stay in Syria as long as Iran maintains its presence, but the US role will not necessarily involve troops, a senior official said on Thursday.

James Jeffrey, the US special representative on Syria, was clarifying recent comments by senior officials who appeared to suggest that troops would stay indefinitely to counter Iran.

Such an objective would drastically alter the mission in Syria first authorized by president Barack Obama, who set a goal of defeating the Islamic State (IS) group, which also considers Iran a foe.

https://theantimedia.com/us-military-syria-iran/

What news that has come out of Syria seems to point to the fact that Russia has come out on top of the Middle East situation…..

A ceasefire seldom gets a good press. If it succeeds in ending violence or defusing a crisis, the media swiftly becomes bored and loses interest. But if the fighting goes on, then those who have called the ceasefire are condemned as heartless hypocrites who either never intended to bring the killing to an end or are culpably failing to do so.

Pundits are predictably sceptical about the agreement reached by Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi on Monday to head off an imminent offensive by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces directed against rebels in Idlib province. This is the last enclave of the armed opposition in western Syria which has lost its strongholds in Aleppo, Damascus and Daraa over the past two years.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/09/25/how-putin-came-out-on-top-in-syria/

Syria is not as calm as the news reports would have us believe.

What Happened To ISIS?

If you watch your local news or some form of national news you might think that the terrorist group known as ISIS have been beaten or that they went into hiding….well that is not accurate in any shape.

While it is accurate to say that it has been sorely depleted but that does not mean that they are defeated…..

As much as we have tried to turn ISIS into the devil incarnate why would Our Dear Leader off them some breathing space…..I know  say what?

Islamic State managed to regain access to Syrian oil fields and make profits from selling oil, a new UN report reveals. While the UN did not point fingers, the IS reemergence seems to occur in areas held by the US-backed forces.

“Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant [IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS], having been defeated militarily in Iraq and most of the Syrian Arab Republic during 2017, rallied in early 2018. This was the result of a loss of momentum by forces fighting it in the east of the Syrian Arab Republic,” the recent report from the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Monitoring Team reads. The document is dated July 27, but was only released to the public this week.

The slow-down gave IS “breathing space to prepare for the next phase of its evolution into a global covert network.” As of June 2018, the terrorist group has been controlling “small pockets of territory in the Syrian Arab Republic on the Iraqi border,” effectively carrying on with its quasi-state ways.

“[IS] was able to extract and sell some oil, and to mount attacks, including across the border into Iraq,” the reports stated, adding that the terrorist group regained “access to some oil fields in northeastern”Syria.

(rt.com)

More reporting on this situation…..

https://theantimedia.com/isis-breathing-space-syria/

Around the Syrian countryside is IdLib and warnings from the US…..

In a new tweet on Monday, President Trump warned Syria against attacking the rebels in Idlib Province. He also warned Iran and Russia against participating in any such attack if it happens.

“The Russians and Iranians would be making a grave humanitarian mistake to take part in this potential human tragedy,” Trump insisted, saying that “hundreds of thousands of people could be killed.”

Though Syria hasn’t confirmed any specifics, it is believed they are preparing to attempt to expel the rebels from Idlib, including the al-Qaeda dominated faction which UN officials say has 10,000 designed terrorist fighters within.

Others estimate that overall, some 70,000 fighters are within, and the densely populated area could indeed lead to large civilian death tolls in the fighting. The US opposition is particularly noteworthy, however, because recent offensives against other densely populated cities and provinces, like Deir Ezzor and Mosul, saw not only US endorsements but direct US participation.

(antiwar.com)

Just what is the USA end game in Syria?  The facts that I read are confusing at best….so what is the end game?

After a suspiciously sudden conversion, Russian President Vladimir Putin now claims to be worried about the fate of millions of refugees who have fled the carnage in Syria. In last weekend’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin expressed his hope that the European Union would help to rebuild Syria so that its displaced people could start to return home. And in recent weeks, Russian diplomats have been hawking the same message across European capitals.

To be sure, now that Bashar al-Assad’s regime has reclaimed most of the country’s territory, Syria’s civil war is clearly winding down. But that outcome was not inevitable. On the contrary, the Syrian army was very close to collapsing at one point. Only with the crucial help of Iranian-backed militias and Russian air support did Assad manage to turn things around.

https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/navigating-the-syrian-endgame/

ISIS is still just as viable now as it was 4 years ago……it has moved into ops in Afghanistan and Africa (mostly)….

How About Iraq?

Since the country and its problems have not been in the news most Americans seem to forget that we are still fighting and our troops are still on multiple deployments in our second longest war…..

Iraq recently had an election (democracy at work?) and America’s one time adversary al-Sadr won the position of prime minister and in the process of forming a government……

There are a few readings about the uphill fight he will have witn a government……

https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iraq/188-iraqs-paramilitary-groups-challenge-rebuilding-functioning-state

https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iraq/b61-how-cope-iraqs-summer-brushfire

With that and the situation……the fighting has not ceased……no?  Then what about ISIS?

Glad you asked!

Dozens of people have been killed in a series of attacks launched by Islamic State (IS) in locations north of Baghdad over the past few months, prompting fears that the terrorist group is reconstituting itself in parts of Iraq (al-Hadath, March 28; al-Sumaria, July 1).

IS has lost all of its urban strongholds in Iraq, including Mosul, which it occupied in June 2014 and which was reclaimed by Iraqi forces last year with significant U.S. support. However, the recent surge in IS activity indicates that the group is now pursuing its old hit-and-run tactics in Iraq, and serves to illustrate how IS could exploit the divisions that remain among Iraqi factions.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/07/31/is_islamic_state_making_plans_for_a_comeback_in_iraq_113670.html

They, ISIS, is NOT gone and it is NOT forgotten……

The Iraqi government’s declaration of “victory” over ISIS may have marked the end of the group holding any real territory, but the end of the Caliphate was never going to be the end of ISIS. Unsurprisingly, the group is looking to make a comeback.

No longer a territory-holding faction trying to operate as a mini-state, ISIS is going back to its guerilla tactics that they used before they were able to take territory. Iraq is experiencing a rise in kidnappings and targeted killings.

ISIS is using the kidnappings as a way to raise money, and the killings as a way to undermine security. This was a common tactic for ISIS for years, and one the Iraqi government has never been able to effectively combat.

(antiwar.com)

Keep in mind that ISIS is still a force that will be handled and the US will have to continue to deal with this murderous group…..we can only hope that Iraq will step up and do what is necessary so that our overworked troops can come home.

After Note:  Another day with my doctors……so there may not be as much posted today as usual….never fear I am still hanging in there and will get back to it as soon as possible…..chuq

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.

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.