NSA chief has regrets on ISIS intelligence collection

September 18, 2014, 4:41 PM

National Security Agency (NSA) Director Adm. Mike Rogers said Thursday that his agency’s collection of intelligence on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL) could have been “stronger.”

“If I’m honest with myself, I wish the transition of ISIL from an insurgency to an organization that was now focused on holding ground, territory, the mechanism of governance….in hindsight I wish we had been a little bit – I’ll only speak for me and the NSA – I wish we’d been a little stronger about,” he said.

Rogers, who is also the head of U.S. Cyber Command, spoke at an intelligence summit alongside Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan and Letitia Long, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

ISIS’ quick rise appeared to take the U.S. by surprise as it swept through northern Iraq, taking hold of vast amounts of territory and virtually erasing the border with Syria. Although U.S. airstrikes in Iraq helped to stem the group’s expansion, the U.S. still struggles to collect enough intelligence on the group’s activities.

Matt Olsen, who directs the National Counter Terrorism Center, told a House committee Wednesday that intelligence agencies have very little idea where foreign fighters go and what they do once they reach Syria, so they can’t estimate how many have joined ISIS or other extremists.

Australia to deploy forces to Middle East

Date  September 14, 2014 – 2:18PM

Anne Davies and Gareth Hutchens

Abbott commits forces to Middle East

New video released by Islamic State militants purporting to show the murder of a British hostage prompts action in the Middle East.

Australia will send 600 military personnel, including SAS troops, and eight FA18 Super Hornets to the United Arab Emirates in preparation for a dramatic escalation of the multinational effort to contain the Islamic State that now holds parts of northern Iraq and Syria.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the mobilisation and deployment from Darwin, where he is about to tour Arnhem Land. It followed another beheading, this time of an English aid worker, by Islamic State militants.

The troops include 400 air-related personnel to support the deployment of the fighter jets. An Early Warning and Control aircraft and an aerial refuelling aircraft will also be sent from  Amberley airbase in the next week. Continue reading

ISIS leader calls on Muslims in Ramadan message to build ‘Islamic state’

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi demands that all Muslims around the world pledge allegiance to him in audiotape.

By Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Sinan Salaheddin Jul. 1, 2014 | 8:27 PM

A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) waves an ISIS flag in Raqqa.

A member loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) waves an ISIS flag in Raqqa June 29, 2014. Photo by Reuters

AP – The leader of the extremist group that has swept over much of northern Syria and Iraq called on Muslims Tuesday to immigrate to the territory his group has seized to help build an Islamic state.

The 19-minute audiotape from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi comes two days after his organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria unilaterally declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in the land it controls. It also proclaimed al-Baghdadi the caliph, and demanded that all Muslims around the world pledge allegiance to him. Continue reading

Iraqi Government Takes Its Fight With ISIS Online

BY Shane Harris JUNE 17, 2014 – 06:28 PM

Iraqi soldiers may have dropped their weapons, stripped off their uniforms, and fled the Islamist jihadists who have conquered a growing list of cities as they move closer to Baghdad. On the battlefields of cyberspace, by contrast, the Iraqi government is putting up a fierce fight against the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

In the past week, government ministries have blocked Internet access in regions where ISIS has a physical foothold in an attempt to stop the group from spreading propaganda and recruiting followers among Iraq’s repressed Sunni minority. The government has also ordered Internet service providers across the country to block all access to certain social media sites, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, which are ISIS’s favorite tools for spreading propaganda and posting photos and videos of their victories over the Iraqi military and their wholesale slaughter of unarmed Shiites — both sources of tremendous embarrassment for the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite. Continue reading

ISIS RECRUITERS ARRESTED IN EUROPE

ISIS RECRUITERS ARRESTED IN EUROPE

The leader of the Spanish cell is a former Guantánamo detainee
by THE AMERICAN INTEREST | JUNE 17, 2014

This weekend, Spain and Germany arrested 11 members of the armed terrorist organisation ISIL, the group that has taken over large swaths of Iraq in recent days.

The leader of the Spanish cell, from which eight of the arrests were made, is a former Guantánamo detainee. The ISIS members in Spain were allegedly working to recruit new members to fight in the organization’s broad jihadi campaign to establish a neo-Caliphate in Iraq and Syria. One of the suspects arrested in Germany allegedly has fought with militants in Syria and appeared in ISIS propaganda videos. Continue reading

Turkey should close its border to ISIS

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014. Since Tuesday, black clad ISIL fighters have seized Iraq's second biggest city Mosul and Tikrit, home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein, as well as other towns and cities north of Baghdad. They continued their lightning advance on Thursday, moving into towns just an hour's drive from the capital. Picture taken June 11, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (IRAQ - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS CONFLICT) - RTR3TDQT

Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, June 11, 2014.  (photo by REUTERS)

US President Barack Obama is reviewing a range of options to deal with the takeover of Mosul and other Iraqi cities by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

Summary⎙ Print The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has depended on the Turkish border for its operations in Syria; US Sen. Tim Kaine offers a blueprint for US-Egypt ties; Al-Monitor’s Year in Review and Back Channel.

Author Week in Review Posted June 14, 2014

Translator(s)Sibel Utku Bila

The prospects are daunting for Iraq, now split in three, to be put back together. The potential for a political dialogue among Iraq’s political factions, also urged by Obama, seems distant.

Even US airstrikes, which the administration is considering, would need to be coordinated with ground operations by the Iraqi army, whose effectiveness is in question after its collapse this week in facing ISIS.

Continue reading

Murphy’s Law: 21st Century War, How It Will Be Different And Why

Marine Corps RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial vehi...

Marine Corps RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle launches from Speedbag Airfield (Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery)

January 24, 2014: The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were different in a lot of ways many people didn’t expect, understand, or even notice. For example, the three week conquest of Iraq was not facilitated so much by high tech weapons, but largely by Cold War era gear using World War II tactics. The most crucial weapons were the decades old M-1 tank and M-2 infantry vehicle, with the 1960s vintage M-109 self-propelled artillery provided most of the artillery support. The 1950s era B-52 bomber was still the most cost effective way to deliver bomb attacks.

And what was so unique about conquering Iraq in three weeks while outnumbered? The British did this in 1941, using only two divisions under similar circumstances (and with far fewer armored vehicles). Not only that, the 1941 Iraqis also had the support of Germany, France and Russia. Made no difference.  Afghanistan featured a handful of American Special Forces troops calling in air strikes while deep in enemy territory. That was standard practice during the 1960s Vietnam War. But change is in the air, it’s just a bit more complex a wave of change than most pundits are trying to describe.

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Suicide bomber kills more than 50 in Iraq

By Jomana Karadsheh, CNN
January 14, 2012 — Updated 1824 GMT (0224 HKT)
Iraqi security forces inpsect the scene of a suicide bombing that killed more than 50 people Saturday near Basra.
Iraqi security forces inpsect the scene of a suicide bombing that killed more than 50 people Saturday near Basra.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Iraqi president and U.S. Embassy condemn the attack
  • The incident is the deadliest attack on Shiites since U.S. completed withdrawal
  • The death toll has climbed to at least 53 killed, ministry says
  • The bomber struck at a police checkpoint outside the city of Basra, officials say

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) — A suicide bomber disguised as a policeman targeted Shiite pilgrims Saturday outside the southern Iraqi city of Basra, killing at least 53 people and wounding 137, the Interior Ministry said.

The blast was the single deadliest attack on the Shiite community since the U.S. military completed its troops withdrawal from Iraq. A January 5 suicide attack on Shiite pilgrims west of the southern city of Nasiriya killed 44.

Saturday’s bomber struck a police checkpoint near a Shiite mosque where many of the pilgrims were headed to mark a revered holy day, the end of a 40-day mourning period known as Arbaeen, Interior Ministry officials said.

President Jalal Talabani called on security forces to beef up their efforts in protecting the war-torn country.

“In a new attempt to incite sectarian sedition and drive the country to the brink of civil war and to terrorize the people , the terrorist forces have committed a series of heinous crimes that have targeted Imam Hussain pilgrims,” Talabani said.

Continue reading

Al-Sadr followers rally in Iraq against US troops

Veiled women supporters of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr march while holding a sign that reads, “no, no to occupation,” in Arabic, in the Sadr City district of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, May 26, 2011. Tens of thousands of followers of the Shiite anti-American cleric are rallying in Baghdad, demanding the U.S. military leave Iraq at the end of the year. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

BAGHDAD — Militiamen and followers of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr led a massive rally on Thursday, marching in Baghdad in a show of force as Iraqi leaders weigh whether to keep U.S. troops in the country beyond the end of the year. Continue reading