Islamic State Murders 30 Christians, Advances In The Direction Of Israel

Image for representational purposes only.

Islamic State continues to make headlines. On Sunday, the terrorist organization released a new video purportedly showing the gruesome mass killing of a group of thirty Ethiopian Christians in Libya.

The footage that includes the logo of the group’s Al-Furqan media arm is more than 29 minutes long. It begins with a description of Christian churches and then calls the Holy Trinity – the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit – a form of polytheism whose worshipers deserve punishment.

At the end of the video, two groups of men dressed in orange and black are shown being escorted by armed IS members in two different locations. A masked man addresses the camera and gives a warning to viewers.

“Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap,” the man says. “We swear to Allah the one, who disgraced you by our hands, you will not have safety even in your dreams until you embrace Islam.”

The video then cuts between the two groups as one group is shot, and the other decapitated with knives.

The video also shows IS members breaking and defacing Catholic and Christian iconography, including crosses on top of churches and pictures and statues of the Virgin Mary. As the crosses fall, IS militants are shown replacing them with the group’s black flag.

At the same time Islamic State released the video, the United Nations reported that at least 90,000 people have fled the advance of IS fighters in Ramadi, Iraq.

“Our top priority is delivering life-saving assistance to people who are fleeing — food, water, and shelter are highest on the list of priorities,” Lise Grande, the deputy special representative of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, said in a statement.

Ar Ramadi is a city east of Bagdad. The report on Islamic State advances close to the Iraqi capital contradicts a recent Pentagon announcement about the progress being made by coalition forces.

U.S. Colonel Steve Warren told reporters last Monday that the group had been pushed out of 25-30 percent – around 5-6,000 square miles – of the Iraqi land under their control. However, a simple look at a map released by the US Department of Defense shows that this is simply not true.

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Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said that the percentage figure was “nonsense” because much of the territory mentioned is unpopulated. “They don’t control empty stretches of Anbar desert where they have no forces, where no-one does.”

The Islamic State offensive in Ramadi could be a prelude of an assault on Bagdad. On Wednesday, it seized several villages close to the provincial capital of Ramadi after launching a series of dawn assaults.

Islamic State fighters have been pushing towards Ramadi since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi launched a major offensive to drive them out of the majority Sunni province of Anbar last week. Government efforts were intended to build on the victory in Tikrit; but IS forces have now pushed to within three miles of Ramadi, according to various reports.

Syria

In Syria, Islamic State has advanced in the direction of the capital Damascus. The Assad regime, Hezbollah, and Iranian forces suffered setbacks last week after Islamic State took over the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmuk. Almost all of the 120,000 Palestinians who lived in the camp before the war have now fled.

There were conflicting reports about a supposed withdrawal of Islamic State from Yarmouk; but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said on Thursday that clashes were still ongoing. The Observatory reported that 80 percent of Yarmouk was under the combined control of Islamic State and Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra. Palestinian factions accuse al-Nusra of colluding with Islamic State. The attack on Yarmuk began on April 1st  after the group quietly build its presence through clandestine networks and its Sunni supporters in the area.

Elsewhere in southern Syria, Islamic State and al-Nusra are trying to take over territory held by regime forces and the Western-backed Southern Front. On April 1st, Al-Nusra took over the Nasib border crossing from Assad’s army. This was the last regime-controlled border crossing between Syria and Jordan.

The events in southern Syria could signal a new phase in the Syrian war. The era where Islamic State was a safe distance from the area in Syria closest to Israel seems to be over.

The renewed cooperation between al-Nusra and Islamic State furthermore indicates that they have realized that the escalating Sunni-Shiite war demands they overcome their differences if they want to become a central power in the Middle East.

Islamic State is very well organized; and although it is driven by religious fanaticism, it has clear goals and is coldly calculating how to achieve them.

As Western Journalism reported last month, the organization is trying to destabilize Egypt and Jordan.The Islamic State affiliate Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis is at war with the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula and has set up camp adjacent to Israel’s southern border.

Today, Stratfor reported that Hamas is clamping down on Islamic State offshoot Wilayat Gaza (Province Gaza).

Wilayat Gaza has made several statements and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks since late 2014. The group claimed responsibility for an attack on the French Cultural Center in Gaza City in October 2014. The following month, the group issued a statement demanding that women abide by Sharia rules of dress. In December, the group issued a statement threatening to kill a number of writers and poets in Gaza if they did not stop “insulting Islam”, Stratfor reported.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Breaking: Saddam’s ‘King Of Clubs’ Killed

In the deck of playing cards given to U.S. troops to help identify key members of Saddam Hussein’s regime, he was known as the “king of clubs.” Now, according to reports from officials in Iraq, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri — the highest-ranking member of Saddam’s inner circle to evade capture — has been killed in a security operation in that country.

Fox News reports that al-Douri — a top aide to the former Iraqi dictator — allied himself with the Islamic State in recent years and is suspected of being “the mastermind of the insurgency against the current Shiite-led government of Iraq.”

By clicking on the video above, you can see a Fox News report on the reported death of the military commander who was effectively Saddam Hussein’s #2 man.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

American And Soviet Tanks Fighting Side By Side Against ISIS

Flickr/cell105

The picture is startling — tanks from each side of the Cold War fighting side by side against ISIS in Iraq. The American M1A1 Abrams tank is most likely from the Iraqi army, which took delivery of vast amounts of American armaments during the Iraq War. The Soviet T-72 is part of the Shiite militias (read Iran) fighting together with Iraq against the Sunni ISIS fighters. Both armored vehicles were attempting to push ISIS out of Tikrit.

The larger story however, is the lack of American weapons systems being delivered to Iraq in great enough numbers to fill the needs of the Iraqi armed forces. This has forced Iraq to go to the Russians for the arms required to defend the fledgling nation.

Russia Beyond The Headlines, admittedly a Kremlin PR media outlet, reports:

Despite having earlier professed a preference for the American M1A1M Abrams tank, the Iraqi army is now showing renewed interest in the capabilities of the Soviet T-72C vehicle as it ramps up the campaign to liberate its cities from Islamic State militants. According to sources in the Czech media, Iraq is soon to take delivery of a shipment of T-72Cs from the Czech army, adding to arms sent by Russia in 2014 as supplies of U.S. weaponry appear to be dwindling.

To me this is just more evidence of the lack of a coherent strategy by the Obama administration in the Middle East. We have abdicated leadership and hurt American security by allowing Russia and Iran to basically take over the access to the Iraqi government that our soldiers fought so hard for over the last decade. American companies should be winning these contracts and collecting these profits.

It’s the least Iraq could do after what our military men and women did for that country.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

After A Twelve Year Iraq Mistake, Time For America To March Home

Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com  Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

Twelve years ago last week, the U.S. launched its invasion of Iraq, an act the late General William Odom predicted would turn out to be “the greatest strategic disaster in U.S. history.”

Before the attack, I was accused of exaggerating the potential costs of the war when I warned that it could end up costing as much as $100 billion. One trillion dollars later, with not one but two “mission accomplished” moments, we are still not done intervening in Iraq.

President Obama last year ordered the U.S. military back into Iraq for the third time. It seems the Iraq “surge” and the Sunni “Awakening,” for which General David Petraeus had been given much credit, were not as successful as was claimed at the time. From the sectarian violence unleashed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq emerged al-Qaeda and then its more radical spin-off, ISIS. So Obama sent the U.S. military back.

We recently gained even more evidence that the initial war was sold on lies and fabrications. The CIA finally declassified much of its 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which was the chief document used by the Bush Administration to justify the U.S. attack. According to the Estimate, the U.S. Intelligence Community concluded, “[W]e are unable to determine whether [biological weapons] agent research has resumed… the information we have on Iraqi nuclear personnel does not appear consistent with a coherent effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.”

But even as the U.S. Intelligence Community had reached this conclusion, President Bush told the American people that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons” and “the evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.”

Likewise, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s “bulletproof” evidence that Saddam Hussein had ties with al-Qaeda was contradicted by the National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that there was no operational tie between Hussein’s government and al-Qaeda.

Even National Security Advisor Condolezza Rice’s famous statement that the aluminum tubes that Iraq was purchasing “are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs,” and “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” was based on evidence she must have known at the time was false. According to the NIE, the Energy Department had already concluded that the tubes were “consistent with applications to rocket motors” and “this is the more likely end use.”

It is hard to believe that in a society supposedly governed by the rule of law, US leaders can escape any penalty for using blatantly false information — that they had to know at the time was false — to launch a pre-emptive attack on a country that posed no threat to the United States. The fact that they got away with it simply makes it all the easier for Washington’s interventionists to try the same tricks again. They already did with Libya and Syria. It is likely they are also doing the same with claims of a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine.

Last week, President Obama correctly blamed the current chaos in Iraq on the Bush Administration’s decision to invade. He said, “… ISIL is a direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion. Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”

However, if the U.S. intervention in Iraq created the “unintended consequences” of ISIS and al-Qaeda, how is it that more US intervention can solve the problem?

A war based on lies cannot be fixed by launching another war. We must just march home. And stay home.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Breaking: What Obama Just Did Shatters A Major Campaign Promise On This Key War Strategy

Images Credit: USA Today

When he was hot on the trail to re-election in 2012 and tossing out all sorts of campaign promises, Barack Obama said the following at a stop in Boulder, Colorado:

We are bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. And I’ve set a timetable. We will have them all out of there by 2014.

Politico writer Josh Gerstein reminds us that a short time before, in Sioux City, Iowa, the president had boasted:

I put forward a specific plan to bring our troops home from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. And when I say I’m going to bring them home, you know they’re going to come home.

Well, as with so many of Obama’s other pledges to the American people — promises that helped him to defeat Mitt Romney — that “you know they’re going to come home” vow has turned out not to be fulfilled. In fact, far from it.

And now, as USA Today has just reported, the White House says the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces still in Afghanistan will be delayed, thus dramatically changing the latest timetable Obama had assured us would be followed in bringing the troops home.

The article notes that the Pentagon, under Obama’s direction, will maintain a force of some 9,800 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan at least through the end of 2015.

That revised number, while indicating yet another substantial shift in Obama’s military strategy, is not altogether unwelcome to U.S. commanders or to the relatively new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Both feared the too-rapid drawdown would jeopardize Afghanistan’s security and allow the Taliban a greater chance to make substantial inroads.

“The Obama administration has planned to reduce its troop presence in Afghanistan from some 9,800 to about 5,500 by the end of this year; Ghani has said he wants more U.S. troops to stay longer as Afghanistan seeks to build up its own military.”

In its coverage of the president’s decision on a higher troop presence in Afghanistan through the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal notes that this move could cast into doubt another of Obama’s promises to bring to a close America’s longest-running war.

“Left unclear is how the new drawdown plan will affect Mr. Obama’s promise to fully end the Afghanistan war, now approaching its 14th year, by the time he leaves office.”

Since he first began campaigning in 2008 for America to put him in the White House, Barack Obama has been promising to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But as so often happens with this commander-in-chief, those commitments have turned out to be little more than dust scattered on the winds of political expediency.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom