Claims of defeat of ISIS in Iraq, Syria

Iraq claims to have driven ISIS out of the country, and Russian claims to have defeated ISIS in Syria.

Reuters: Islamic State completely ‘evicted’ from Iraq, Iraqi PM says

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday that Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of Islamic State from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory.

The Iraqi forces recaptured the last areas still under IS control along the border with Syria, state television quoted Abadi as telling an Arab media conference in Baghdad.

Several squadrons of Iraqi helicopters flew over Baghdad carrying Iraqi flags at noon, in an apparent rehearsal for a victory parade that Iraq is planning to hold in the coming days.

“Commander-in-Chief @HaiderAlAbadi announces that Iraq’s armed forces have secured the western desert & the entire Iraq Syria border, says this marks the end of the war against Daesh terrorists who have been completely defeated and evicted from Iraq,” the federal government’s official account tweeted.

In a separate tweet later, Abadi said: “Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border. We defeated Daesh through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people.”

New Zealand has helped with the training of Iraqi military in their fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh: Announcement of New Zealand Defence Force personnel being deployed in a non-combat training mission to Iraq

On 24 February 2015, the government announced that the New Zealand Defence Force will deploy to Iraq in a non-combat training mission to build the capacity of the Iraqi security forces to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Up to 143 New Zealand Defence Force personnel were approved by Cabinet to deploy on a training mission, with the main body of the deployment expected to deploy in May 2015. The training of Iraqi security forces at Taji will cover a broad range of individual and organisational military skills so that Iraqi security forces can eventually assume responsibility for delivering their own training programmes.

Extension of the Iraq Deployment

On 20 June 2016, the Government decided to extend New Zealand’s contribution to the Building Partner Capacity mission to 30 November 2018.

The Minister of Defence’s press release regarding the extension.

Rudaw: Russia declares Syria ‘completely liberated’ from ISIS

Russia’s defence minister has informed President Vladimir Putin of the defeat of ISIS in Syria and the “complete” liberation of that country.

“All ISIS formations in Syria have been defeated. Syria has been liberated from terrorists,” General of the Army Valery Gerasimov stated Wednesday evening, adding that Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Putin of this “about an hour ago.”

Announcing the liberation of four villages in Deir ez-Zor province, “there are no territories controlled by ISIS in Syria today,” Gerasimov said.

The military operations were overseen by Russian military advisers “operating in every grouping of the government troops,” according to a statement from Russia’s Ministry of Defence.

“Units of Kurdish militia and tribes from the East Euphrates operating under the leadership of the joint staff and Russian military advisers have made a large contribution to the liberation of territories located to the east from the Euphrates,” Gerasimov added.

On Sunday, in a joint press conference with Russian military officials, the Kurdish armed force YPG announced the defeat of ISIS in the rural areas of Deir ez-Zor province, east of the Euphrates River.

These are major victories and will have significantly reduced the power and influence of ISIS, but I doubt it will be the end of ISIS related terrorism, which may now be be one of it’s only ways of trying to continue their aims.

Charged with possessing Isis propaganda, child sex abuse videos

This sounds like someone who may have some wide ranging problems.

NZH: NZ man charged with possessing Isis propaganda, ‘terrorist’s handbook’

A 19-year-old Dannevirke man appeared in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday after being charged with possessing terrorism propaganda.

Jordayne Evan Thomas Madams faces 10 charges of possessing objectionable material consisting of child sex abuse videos and images, and terrorism material.

He made no plea when he appeared in court and a police spokesperson said he was due to appear in court on December 7 – where he would be required to enter a plea.

According to court documents, that included a text file of The Terrorist’s Handbook, which gives instructions on how to assemble bombs and explosives, as well as Isis beheading videos.

It was also alleged Madams had videos showing Isis, a jihadist militant group predominantly operating in Syria, executing a captured soldier with a machinegun and carrying out a beheading.

The child sex abuse material involved photos and videos of preteen and teenage boys and girls in suggestive poses or taking part in sex acts, according to court documents.

No indication of whether he was a terrorism risk, or was just someone who, allegedly, was attracted to gross and illegal material.

Trump reaction to New York terror attack

The vehicle terror attack in New York has not surprisingly been used by President Trump to promote tougher immigration restrictions, but he has also tried to blame a Democrat Senator.

NBC: Trump: ‘Terrorist’ Attack, Suspect ‘Deranged,’ ISIS Stay Out of U.S.

Police said the driver of a rental truck deliberately drove onto a bike path on the west side of lower Manhattan hitting bicyclists and others before getting out of the vehicle and being shot by police, law enforcement officials and witnesses said.

At least eight people were killed and 11 injured. Saipov is hospitalized and in police custody.

A law enforcement official told WNBC that a note found in the suspect’s truck claimed that he carried out the attack for ISIS.

This is the first ISIS claimed vehicle attack in the US but not the first vehicle attack.

President Donald Trump called the murderous spree by a rental truck driver in New York City on Tuesday “another attack by a very sick and deranged person,” sent condolences to victims of what the president referred to as a “terrorist attack,” and pledged to step up extreme vetting of those seeking to enter the U.S.

Later, Trump tweeted, “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!”

The problem here is that this attacker was already living in the US – Saipov entered the United States in 2010 on a diversity visa and had become a lawful permanent resident.

Another problem is Trump’s diversion in trying to lay some blame on a Democrat Senator for the attack – Reuters: After New York attack, Trump blasts senior Democratic senator

In Twitter posts, the Republican president linked Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer to a visa program under which Trump said the man suspected of Tuesday’s attack, an Uzbek immigrant, entered the United States.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer responded that Trump should stop “politicizing and dividing America” at times of national tragedy.

Trump reprised what has been his stance as a White House candidate and as president – that tougher immigration laws should be a first line of defense against terrorism.

He said the suspect entered the country through the so-called diversity visa program, which was created by Congress in 1990, to provide a path to U.S. residency for citizens from a range of countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.

“The terrorist came into our country through what is called the ‘Diversity Visa Lottery Program,’ a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based”.

In another post, Trump cited an analyst who appeared on a Fox News Channel program, writing, “‘Senator Chuck Schumer helping to import Europes problems’ said Col.Tony Shaffer. We will stop this craziness!”

But:

Schumer helped create the program in 1990 when he was a member of the House of Representatives, but he was also a member of a group of lawmakers who crafted a bipartisan immigration bill in 2013 that would have done away with the program. That bill was passed by the Senate but was killed by the Republican-led House.

Schumer responded:

“Instead of politicizing and dividing America, which he always seems to do at times of national tragedy, (Trump) should be bringing us together and focusing on the real solution, anti-terrorism funding, which he proposed to cut in his most recent budget.”

Sad to see a terror attack being used in political bickering.

Stopping the diversity lottery and stepping up the Extreme Vetting Program won’t address problems already in the US. The division stoked by President Trump is probably as big a risk as anything.

Can you separate Muslims from ISIS?

ChristiansKKK

Are all Muslims complicit with wars in the Middle East?

Are all Christians complicit with the KKK?

Are all Christians responsible for the terrible act done by James Alex Fields Jr. in Charlottesville?

Are all Christians Nazi sympathisers like Fields?

Are all white male Americans white supremacists? All white Americans?

Are all white males Nazi sympathisers?

Some people blame everyone who they think aren’t like them, or all of a group they don’t like.

Are all Muslims responsible for ISIS terrorist acts?

All 1.6 billion Muslims? Why not all 3.75 billion males? Or all 7.5 billion humans?

Afghan attack, and arms supply

At about the same time a huge terrorist bomb went off in Kabul a top US general has confirmed that Russia is supplying arms to the Taliban.

Newshub: Kabul in mourning after fatal bomb blast

Kabul is mourning the victims of a truck bomb that killed at least 80 people and wounded hundreds amid growing public anger at the government’s failure to prevent yet another deadly attack in the heart of the Afghan capital.

Wednesday’s blast, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, ripped through a traffic-clogged street packed with people on their way to school or work during the morning rush hour, causing hundreds of casualties in an instant and sending a tower of black smoke into the sky.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made a televised address late on Wednesday, calling for national unity in the face of the attack, which his National Directorate for Security blamed on the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, but he faces an increasingly angry public.

“For God’s sake, what is happening to this country?” said Ghulam Sakhi, a shoemaker whose shop is close to the site of the blast.

“People leave home to fetch a loaf of bread for their children and later that evening, their dead body is sent back to the family.”

There has been no claim of responsibility but Afghanistan’s National Directorate for Security blamed the Haqqani network, a Taliban affiliate directly integrated into the militant movement, and said it had been helped by Pakistan’s intelligence service.

The Taliban have denied involvement.

Regardless of whether the Taliban were responsible the murkiness of the perpetual civil war in Afghanistan was highlighted by this from the Washington Post: Russia is sending weapons to Taliban, top U.S. general confirms

The general in charge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan appeared to confirm Monday that Russia is sending weapons to the Taliban, an intervention that will probably further complicate the 15-year-old war here and the Kremlin’s relations with the United States.

When asked by reporters, Gen. John Nicholson did not dispute claims that the Taliban is receiving weapons and other supplies from the Russians.

“We continue to get reports of this assistance,” Nicholson said, speaking to reporters alongside Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “We support anyone who wants to help us advance the reconciliation process, but anyone who arms belligerents who perpetuate attacks like the one we saw two days ago in Mazar-e Sharif is not the best way forward to a peaceful reconciliation.”

A senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence on the issue, said the Russians have increased their supply of equipment and small arms to the Taliban over the past 18 months.

“Any weapons being funneled here from a foreign country would be a violation of international law unless they were coming to the government of Afghanistan,” Mattis said, speaking during his first visit to Afghanistan as defense secretary. He added that it would have to be dealt with as such.

In the past, Nicholson has criticized Russia’s contact with the Taliban, saying that it has given “legitimacy” to a group that has undermined the elected government in Kabul.

New American: Kabul Bomb Blast Could Be Used to Justify Increase in U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

A powerful bomb hidden inside a sewage tanker truck exploded during the morning rush hour in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, on May 31, killing at least 80 people, wounding hundreds more, and damaging nearby embassy buildings.

Some have speculated that this bomb attack might influence U.S. policy on increasing troop strength in Afghanistan.

A few days agoGovernment considering sending more troops to Afghanistan at request of US

A decision on whether to send more Kiwi troops to Afghanistan at the request of the United States will be made in a matter of weeks.

Prime Minister Bill English confirmed at his weekly media briefing on Monday that the US on behalf of NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) has asked that New Zealand send an additional two personnel – taking the total team to 12 in the region.

A 20% increase in NZ troops! Only two more, not many, but one has to wonder if Afghanistan can ever be fixed. Peace is unlikely to to be able to be imposed by outside countries.

Manchester bomber identified

The Manchester bomber has been identified, and ISIS have claimed responsibility.

The bomber has been named as a 22 year old British born Libyan Salman Abedi, who comes from South Manchester (thanks Missy).

The Telegraph: Salman Abedi named as the Manchester suicide bomber – what we know about him

The suicide bomber who killed 22 people and injured dozens more at the Manchester Arena has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi.

Born in Manchester in 1994, the second youngest of four children his parents were Libyan refugees who came to the UK to escape the Gaddafi regime.

His parents were both born in Libya but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Fallowfield area of south Manchester where they have lived for at least ten years.

Abedi grew up in the Whalley Range area, just yards from the local girl’s high school, which hit the headlines in 2015 when twins and grade A pupils, Zahra and Salma Halane, who were both aspiring medical students, left their homes and moved to Isil controlled Syria.

There were unconfirmed reports in Manchester that the whole family apart from the two elder sons recently returned to Libya.

PDB says:

If true it shows the difficulty one faces in stopping terrorism when the terrorists are home grown 2nd or third generation immigrants.

It shows that terrorism is not just a Middle East problem, nor just a recent immigration problem.

Abedi was named by Greater Manchester Chief Constable Ian Hopkins on Tuesday.

“As you would expect the police response to this across Greater Manchester has been significant as we support people to go about their daily business.

“Part of this response has seen us arrest a 23-year-old man in connection with the attack and we have also carried out two warrants, one in Whalley Range and one in Fallowfield that included a controlled explosion to enable safe entry.

“We understand that feelings are very raw right now and people are bound to be looking for answers. However, now, more than ever, it is vital that our diverse communities in Greater Manchester stand together and do not tolerate hate.”

I doubt that generating more hate has ever been a successful response to hateful crimes.

“I can confirm that the man suspected of carrying out last night’s atrocity has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi. However, he has not yet been formally identified and I wouldn’t wish, therefore, to comment further.

“The priority remains to establish whether he was acting alone or as part of a network.”

On Tuesday, it was reported that the Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the attack.

Difficult times for Manchester and for Britain. Just like they couldn’t remove all people of Irish descent from England during the Troubles, they can’t wave a wand to erase everything Muslim from the country.

If led well the majority of people will rise together against terrorism and against hate, and stand against the divisive aims of the terrorists.

ISIS ‘caliphate’ crumbling?

The Guardian reports that as military pressure continues against ISIS in Syria foreign fighters are trying to get out of the caliphate.

Isis faces exodus of foreign fighters as its ‘caliphate’ crumbles

Large numbers of foreign fighters and sympathisers are abandoning Islamic Stateand trying to enter Turkey, with at least two British nationals and a US citizen joining an exodus that is depleting the ranks of the terror group.

Sources within Isis have confirmed that the group’s ranks in its last redoubt in Syria have rapidly shrunk as a ground offensive has edged towards Raqqa and Tabqa in the country’s north-east, where foreign fighters had been extensively deployed over the past four years.

Officials in Turkey and Europe say an increasing number of Isis operatives who have joined the group since 2013 have contacted their embassies looking to return. Other, more ideologically committed members are thought to be intent on using the exodus to infiltrate Turkey and then travel onwards to Europe to seek vengeance for the crumbling caliphate, raising renewed fears of strikes on the continent.

Among them, western intelligence agencies believe, are prominent members of the group’s external operations arm, who joined Isis from numerous European countries including Britain, France and Belgium, as well as Australia. At least 250 ideologically driven foreigners are thought to have been smuggled to Europe from late 2014 until mid-2016, with nearly all travelling through Turkey after crossing a now rigidly enforced border.

So good news perhaps for Syria, but potentially bad news for Europe and elsewhere.

Masrour Barzani, chancellor of security for the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq, said: “The nature of the fight against Isis will change into an intelligence war. Defeating Isis militarily deprives them of territory and prevents them attracting and recruiting foreign fighters. This in turn discourages foreign fighters from staying in the so-called Islamic State and they will eventually try to escape or surrender.

“However, the threat foreign fighters can still pose upon returning to their countries should not be underestimated.”

That’s likely to be difficult to deal with.

Up to 30,000 foreign fighters are thought to have crossed into Syria to fight with Isis. The US government estimates that as many as 25,000 of them have since been killed. Around 850 British fighters have joined Isis or other jihadi groups such al-Nusra Front and in some cases the war against the regime of the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad. It is believed around half of these fighters have returned to the UK and around 200 have died.

Maher said a military defeat of Isis would cripple the group’s recruitment ability. “Islamic State has projected a narrative of momentum and success,” he said. “Their slogan has been ‘remaining and expanding’, and a lot of young people bought into that. As the caliphate begins to crumble, that same appeal simply isn’t there any more. It’s potency and relevance has been diminished.

“What you will now see is the most hardened and committed members of the group retreat to the desert as Islamic State prepares for its next phase, as an aggressive insurgency in Syria and Iraq. However, a significant proportion of its recruits from Europe and the west will lose confidence in the group and defect or surrender.”

So they are losing a lot of soldiers and their support looks like crumbling, but it doesn’t take many to cause problems if they spread out around the world.

Westminster attack: “clearly an interest in jihad”

London’s metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner “Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with IS or AQ, there is clearly an interest in jihad.”

In a statement Khalid Masood’s mother says she is “deeply shocked, saddened and numbed by the actions my son has taken” and “I do not condone his actions nor support the beliefs he held that led to him committing this atrocity”.

Guardian: Westminster attacker Khalid Masood had interest in jihad – police

Khalid Masood, who killed four people in the Westminster attack, had a clear interest in jihad and his method echoed the rhetoric of Islamic State leaders, Scotland Yard has said.

Metropolitan police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu, senior national coordinator for UK counter-terrorism policing, said on Monday there was no evidence yet that Kent-born Masood, 52, had discussed his plans with others.

“His attack method appears to be based on low-sophistication, low-tech, low-cost techniques copied from other attacks, and echo the rhetoric of IS leaders in terms of methodology and attacking police and civilians, but at this stage I have no evidence he discussed this with others.

“There is no evidence that Masood was radicalised in prison in 2003, as has been suggested; this is pure speculation at this time. Whilst I have found no evidence of an association with IS or AQ [al-Qaida], there is clearly an interest in jihad.”

There does appear to be at least an interest in the methods and aims of ISIS and Al Qaida, even if there was no direct association.

Masood’s mother, Janet Ajao, released a statement:

“I am so deeply shocked, saddened and numbed by the actions my son has taken that have killed and injured innocent people in Westminster. Since discovering that it was my son that was responsible I have shed many tears for the people caught up in this horrendous incident.

“I wish to make it absolutely clear, so there can be no doubt, I do not condone his actions nor support the beliefs he held that led to him committing this atrocity. I wish to thank my friends, family and community from the bottom of my heart for the love and support given to us.”

It would be a terrible thing for a parent to have their child involved in this sort of despicable attack. She has lost a son in one of the worst possible ways, and has to live with the stigma of the attack.

What to do about terrorism?

Terrorist attacks like yesterday’s vehicle and knife attack in London (in countries we have an affinity with, as opposed to the terrorist attacks in Nigeria) provoke understandable reactions around the world – fear, anger, sometimes hate. This is a primary aim of the attacks.

This is despite the relatively infinitesimal risk to any of us individually. We are at much greater risk of death by murder (about one a week in New Zealand), by vehicle (about one a day in New Zealand), by suicide (more than one a day). In an unknown number of cases vehicle deaths are suicides and sometimes suicide attacks.

One person’s terrorist can be another person’s ‘freedom fighter’ or allied military force. More innocent people are killed by drone attack than by the vehicle attacks that have occurred in Europe. This is a scattered asymmetric warfare.

It makes a difference if we have been where the attack has occurred. I haven’t been to London but I have been to a city in Germany that had an attack last year.

In most publicised terrorist attacks in the Western world the perpetrators turn out to be associated with Islam, and currently usually associated with ISIS.

The aim of ISIS and their followers is to spread fear as widely as possible, to create division and build hate between the Islam world and the Western world.

So far (fortunately) in New Zealand most of us have been only by perceptions, how we react feel about distant atrocities. We may fear being a victim, and we may fear what ISIS and others are trying to do in the world.

Some in New Zealand have more to contend with – they can become collateral victims.

Muslims in New Zealand must dread ISIS attacks, because it is common for people to blame not only the terrorists but also to blame all Muslims throughout the world, including New Zealand.

So New Zealand Muslims sometimes become the targets of abuse (which is contemptible), and must feel stares of unease in the streets and especially in buses and planes. This is unfortunate but it is a natural human instinct, no matter how unfounded the actual risk. And female Muslims in particular stand out by the way they dress (at least the ones that stand out do).

Not that long ago the UK had a reign of terror inflicted by close neighbours, the Irish. While they looked much the same as many others an Irish accent could cause unease.

Communists have been victimised not for being terrorists but for having a different political ideology – and perhaps for stirring up union unrest.

People of German and Japanese were ostracised and incarcerated during the Second World War.

Muslims (a very small minority of them) just happen to be the current perpetrators of terrorism.

We have to somehow deal with our feelings about terror attacks and our unease about risks to us here.

Blaming many for the actions of a few is common but doesn’t help. Driving division between all Muslims, stirring up hate and fear, this is what the terrorists are trying to achieve. They know it victimises many innocent people, that is part of their method.

We can and should condemn the sum who carry out and encourage terrorist acts.

But we have to understand smearing many innocent people is a reactive boost to what terrorists want – and it’s not fair on the targets of unfounded criticism.

If a black car crosses a white line and kills innocent travellers we don’t condemn all drivers of black cars, not all passengers in black vehicles.

If a P addict murders someone we don’t blame all pot smokers.

It makes no sense blaming a Muslim from Fiji for the actions of an Islamic terrorist from Pakistan or from Birmingham.

Terrorists aim to make many victims out of a single attack. We should resist adding to this by accusing innocent Muslims for something they have nothing to do with.

We have to hope our security and policing is vigilant and will prevent most if not all potential terrorists from attacking in New Zealand. We are lucky that the risks are relatively very small here.

We need to exercise tolerance and understanding as much as we can. We should avoid ostracising innocent people to avoid the risk of provoking one into a violent attack in reaction.

As in London we have to go about our lives as normally as possible – and allow all New Zealanders to do the same.

We have to be better than terrorists, much better, and avoid being drawn into playing their game for them. That’s our best way of winning against them.

ISIS try to capitalise off Trump

This isn’t surprising – ISIS and Al Qaeda are trying to capitalise off the actions of Donald Trump in immigration and refugee restrictions targeting Muslim countries.

There was always going to be a risk of escalation.

The Independent: Isis hails Donald Trump’s Muslim immigration restrictions as a ‘blessed ban’

Al Qaeda, Isis and other jihadi groups are thrilled with US President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration targeting Muslim countries, describing it as proof that the US is at war with Islam.

The new legislation signed by Mr Trump on Friday temporarily suspends the US’ refugee programme and bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) from entering the country on the grounds of national security.

Isis-friendly channels on the Telegram messaging service described the ban as “blessed”, echoing how the US 2003 invasion of Iraq was called a “blessed invasion” for reinvigorating anti-US sentiment in the region.

One user greeted the news of the “Muslim ban” as “the best caller to Islam”, hoping it will draw Muslim Americans to their cause.

Several posts suggested that the prediction of Anwar al-Awlaki – a US-born al Qaeda leader killed in Yemen in 2011 – that “the West would eventually turn against its Muslim citizens” was coming true.

Of course this may be exactly what Trump wants – here’s a real risk he will use this as justification for strengthening his restrictions and perhaps increasing US military attacks in the Middle East.

Some in the US, and ISIS and Al Qaeda and other jihadi groups, seem to want an all out war between the West and Muslim countries.

This is a high risk game. If it does blow up big the only certainty is there will be unintended consequences, and it could get very ugly for many parts of the world.