Suicide-bombing instructor blows up his own class


**Posted by Phineas

Former ISIS faculty member

Former ISIS faculty member

As you can imagine, I’m shedding rivers of tears over this news.

Tears of laughter:

A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives, army and police officials said.

The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.

Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara, according to the police and army officials. Stores of other explosive devices and heavy weapons were also kept there, the officials said.

I bet that taught them a lesson they’ll never forget.

I wonder if a jihadi qualifies for his 72 virgin goats if he dies in the dumbest way possible?

via Moe Lane

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Iraq and Syria: al Qaeda on the march


**Posted by Phineas

The flag of al Qaeda

The flag of al Qaeda

Boy, it’s a good thing President Obama destroyed al Qaeda, isn’t it? Otherwise they’d have conquered the world, by now.

As it is, we can be grateful they only control more territory than they ever have:

From around Aleppo in western Syria to small areas of Falluja in central Iraq, al Qaeda now controls territory that stretches more than 400 miles across the heart of the Middle East, according to English and Arab language news accounts as well as accounts on jihadist websites.

Indeed, al Qaeda appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history.

The focus of al Qaeda’s leaders has always been regime change in the Arab world in order to install Taliban-style regimes. Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri acknowledged as much in his 2001 autobiography, “Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet,” when he explained that the most important strategic goal of al Qaeda was to seize control of a state, or part of a state, somewhere in the Muslim world, explaining that, “without achieving this goal our actions will mean nothing.”

Now al-Zawahiri is closer to his goal than he has ever been.


In September a CNN reporting team concluded, “Al Qaeda has swept to power with the aim of imposing a strict Islamist ideology on Syrians across large swathes of Syria’s rebel-held north.”

In sum, al Qaeda affiliates now control much of northern and northwestern Syria as well as some parts of eastern Syria, as well as much of Anbar province, which is around a third of Iraqi territory.

Thank goodness Obama and his Smart Power team came into office to fix George W. Bush’s mistakes, no?

Like I said before, this would likely not have happened had the Obama administration not bollixed the SOF negotiations with Maliki’s government. In both political and military matters, our proven ability to act as a trusted mediator between Iraqi factions probably would have prevented the political difficulties that gave al Qaeda this opening in Anbar, and provided the Iraqi Army with the support they need to deal rapidly and effectively with the threat. This was demonstrated time and again during the Surge operations.

But, under President Obama’s wise leadership, we left Iraq. We also dithered on Syria until jihadists became the dominant opposition force.

And now the black banner of jihad flies from Aleppo to Fallujah.

via Jim Geraghty, who writes:

Remember, “Bin Laden is dead and Detroit is alive”? Detroit is bankrupt and al-Qaeda now controls more territory than ever.

Heckuva job, Barry.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Smart-Power Success! Al Qaeda takes Fallujah!


**Posted by Phineas

Your Obama foreign policy team

Your Obama foreign policy team

Not “al Qaeda central,” as the Obama administration likes to call it, but the revived affiliate “al Qaeda in Iraq” (Zarqawi’s old outfit), which is more or less merged with its Syrian equivalent in one big happy family of murdering jihadi psychos.

And, taking advantage of internal Iraqi political frictions, they’re making their move:

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, an al Qaeda branch in the Middle East, and its tribal allies have taken control of Fallujah less than one week after launching an offensive in Iraq’s western province of Anbar. Meanwhile, the military and tribes that oppose the ISIS have launched counterattacks in Ramadi and other cities and towns along the Euphrates River.

Security officials and reports told the BBC that the ISIS fighters “control the south of the city,” while “tribesmen allied with al Qaeda hold the rest of Fallujah.” Reuters reported that “the northern and eastern parts of the city were under the control of tribesmen and militants.”


Jihadists waving al Qaeda’s black flag have occupied police stations and government buildings, and are issuing calls from mosques for men to join the fight against the government.

The military has responded by shelling areas of the city under ISIS control. The total number of people killed during the fighting in Fallujah is not yet known.

ISIS fighters seized control of parts of Fallujah and Ramadi, the two largest cities in Anbar, on Tuesday after the Iraqi military withdrew from the cities in the wake of clashes between government forces and the tribes following the arrest of a senior Sunni politician in Ramadi. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda seizes partial control of 2 cities in western Iraq]. Maliki ordered the troops to return to the cities after cutting a deal with the tribes, but not before the ISIS quickly moved in and seized control.

Politics between the Sunni tribes in Anbar with each other and strained relations with the Shiite Maliki government in Baghdad gave ISIS their opening (for example), but I have a hard time imagining this coming to pass if Team Smart Power hadn’t a) utterly bungled the negotiations over a Status of Forces agreement with Iraq, thus leading to our total withdrawal, and b) also bungled the Syrian situation so badly that a promising opportunity to bring down Assad and deal a body-blow to Iran was instead practically given gift-wrapped to al Qaeda affiliates (and Iran…).

Bungling. That seems to be the common element here.

Fallujah, Ramadi, Tal Afar, Baquba, and so many other places in western Iraq and around Baghdad were liberated by American and Iraqi blood and treasure. I don’t know if this situation will deteriorate into a crisis, or if Iraqi security forces can push ISIS out, but, as of now, Barack Obama and his foreign policy geniuses are flushing everything those men and women fought for down the toilet.

RELATED: via Hot Air, Secretary of State Kerry says “You go, Iraq! Just don’t expect any real help from us…”

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

#Benghazi: Why the cover-up?


**Posted by Phineas

American blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

We’re a little more than a month away from the one-year anniversary of the attack on our consulate in Benghazi and the deaths of four Americans there, and yet we still have no good answers as to just what was going on there. Why did we have such a poorly secured facility in deeply hostile territory? What was its mission, and what was the mission of the related CIA annex where, we now know, around 35 intelligence operatives and contractors worked? What is the government so desperate to hide that they would baldly lie to the world, the nation, and the surviving family of those killed in the attack? (1)

One of the more widely popular speculations is that Benghazi was a hub for transferring arms to the rebels in Syria. (For example) Remember that many of the rebels in Syria are jihadists sympathetic to al Qaeda. Indeed, the most effective group, the al Nusra front, is for all intents and purposes part of al Qaeda.

But so were the jihadists who attacked our consulate in Benghazi, and therein lies the problem.

Think about it: if we’re supplying weapons to al Qaeda allies in Syria, it make no sense for al Qaeda allies in Libya to attack the headquarters of that operation. It would be stupid, in fact, and, much as I loathe these refugees from a medieval nuthouse, I don’t think they’re stupid. Or, at least, their leaders aren’t. The arms-to-Syria story just doesn’t pass the “sense test.”

So, what was going on in Benghazi?

A couple of days ago, Power Line’s John Hinderaker was wondering along similar lines, and Michael Ledeen wrote to offer his speculations. I think he’s closer to the truth than most. Here’s an excerpt:

I have never believed the rumor that we were sending arms from Libya to Syrian rebels. I was told by Syrian friends that the opposition were furious because they weren’t getting any support. Not from us, and not via Turkey. There was some training, based in Jordan I believe. I think that the Annex was an Intelligence Community hq. Not just CIA, also NSA, FBI, DIA, special forces etc. and I think their major operation was trying to get control of US weaponry that we had sent to anti-Qadaffi forces, now spreading around the Middle East to the usual suspects.

I think the admin was frightened about that story: US weapons end up in enemy hands, ergo we were arming our enemies, replay of the birth of al Qaeda etc. You can’t say you are at war with AQ if you are arming them, right? That plays very badly in the prez campaign. And then of course the total cockup of the non-response to the killing of our men.

And not just US weaponry, but the arms lost from Qaddafi’s arsenals after he was overthrown. That materiel is spreading all over North Africa (Mali, for example), and it wouldn’t surprise me to see it show up in Sinai, where Salafis are carrying on an insurgency against the new military-backed Egyptian government. The public acknowledgement of this would have made a hash of Obama’s claims of foreign policy success.

No, it wouldn’t have done at all for this to come out before the election. The narrative of Obama’s Great Victory over al Qaeda had to be preserved.

Even if it meant lying through his teeth to grieving families.

(1) Other than Clinton and Obama’s incompetence, that is.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Forest fires as an act of jihad?


**Posted by Phineas

"...can prevent forest jihad."

“…can prevent forest jihad.”

Summertime is forest fire season in much of the western United States; here in California, it’s almost an annual ritual to watch some part or another (or several at once) of the state go up in smoke.  And the causes can be as mundane as they are frustrating: firebugs getting their thrills; careless campers or hikers; or idiots shooting off fireworks too near dry brush. And for someone else’s carelessness, hundreds and even thousands of people are put at risk of their homes and lives, not to mention the vast public expense needed to fight a blaze.

But what if they weren’t all the accidental products of carelessness, or even garden-variety arson? What if some were acts of holy war?

In the Washington Examiner, Mark Tapscott takes the recent Black Forest fire in Colorado as his jumping off point for a discussion of the dangers of “forest jihad:”

Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld (1) of the New York-based American Center for Democracy’s Economic Warfare Institute warns that last July “al-Qaeda’s English-language online magazine, Inspire, published an article called ‘It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb,’ which featured instructions on how to build an incendiary bomb to light forests on fire.

“A few months later, Russia’s security (FSB) chief, Aleksandr Bortnikov warned, ‘al-Qaeda was complicit in recent forest fires in Europe’ as part of the terrorists’ ‘strategy of a thousand cuts.’ Bortnikov spoke of ‘extremist sites [that] contained detailed instructions of waging the forest jihad and stressed that such a method had proved itself effective as it inflicted both physical and moral damage, needed little training or investment and it was extremely hard for police to find and apprehend the arsonists.’

“Since then, more fatwas advocating that ‘Fire is cheap, easy and effective tool for economic warfare’ have been issued. They’ve included detailed instructions for constructing remote-controlled ’ember bombs, and how to set fires without leaving a trace.'”

And it’s not just in the US, as Tapscott points out. Not only has Russia suspected Muslim terrorists of setting forest fires in their country, but Australia, too, has been declared a target, while deadly fires in Western Europe aroused suspicions.

There’s little proof that any of these fires were acts of jihad, but the fact that al Qaeda and other Islamic supremacist groups have shown great interest in setting them should make us wary. The West has done tremendous damage to al Qaeda and its affiliates since 9/11/01, largely blunting their efforts to conduct more catastrophic terror attacks against us. But, they are nothing if not adaptable, and it only makes sense that they would look for other means to strike at us, the “infidels.”

RELATED: The National Interagency Fire Center has good info on current large wildfires. At the ICT in Israel, Colonel Jonathan Fighel has an important article on al Qaeda’s interest in forest jihad, while The Gatestone Institute published Soeren Kern’s piece explaining AQ’s “thousand cuts” strategy.

(1) Rachel Ehrenfeld also wrote “Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed And How To Stop It,” a must-read work on the money networks behind international terrorism.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Does al Qaeda now have surface to air missiles?


**Posted by Phineas

Oh, this is not good. Not good at all:

The photocopies of the manual lay in heaps on the floor, in stacks that scaled one wall, like Xeroxed, stapled handouts for a class.

Except that the students in this case were al Qaeda fighters in Mali. And the manual was a detailed guide, with diagrams and photographs, on how to use a weapon that particularly concerns the United States: A surface-to-air missile capable of taking down a commercial airplane.

The 26-page document in Arabic, recovered by The Associated Press in a building that had been occupied by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Timbuktu, strongly suggests the group now possesses the SA-7 surface-to-air missile, known to the Pentagon as the Grail, according to terrorism specialists. And it confirms that the al Qaeda cell is actively training its fighters to use these weapons, also called man-portable air-defense systems, or MANPADS, which likely came from the arms depots of ex-Libyan strongman Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

“The existence of what apparently constitutes a `Dummies Guide to MANPADS’ is strong circumstantial evidence of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb having the missiles,” said Atlantic Council analyst Peter Pham, a former adviser to the United States’ military command in Africa and an instructor to U.S. Special Forces. “Why else bother to write the guide if you don’t have the weapons? … If AQIM not only has the MANPADS, but also fighters who know how to use them effectively,” he added, “then the impact is significant, not only on the current conflict, but on security throughout North and West Africa, and possibly beyond.”

This is the fruit of the Obama-Clinton “smart power” regime, and the fatuous “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine of our future UN Ambassador, Samantha Power. Not only has their “humanitarian war” in Libya caused chaos in North Africa –what happened in Mali was a direct result of destroying the vile but tamed and no danger to us regime of Gadhafi– but these loose MANPADS are now a threat to air traffic throughout the region and beyond.

Yes, “beyond.” There’s a reason the “p” in MANPAD stands for “portable.” These things are easily smuggled. Imagine if one or more shows up in Europe, Asia, or just outside LaGuardia. Think of what just one successful shoot-down will do to air traffic worldwide, not to mention the immediate casualties. The potential is absolutely nightmarish.

Quite a legacy for Obama, and a heckuva record for Clinton to run on in 2016.

via Michael J. Totten

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Canadian train plot: RCMP asserts an al-Qaeda connection


**Posted by Phineas

I mentioned this in yesterday’s post, but there’s a bit more information on the terrorists and their connection with al-Qaeda:

Canadian police officials have linked the plotting of two Muslim men to destroy a Toronto passenger train to al Qaeda’s network inside Iran. The two suspects, neither of whom are Canadian citizens, were taken into custody yesterday and are facing terrorism charges. One of the suspects had placed an image of al Qaeda’s banner in a social media site. The image has since been removed.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said yesterday that the two suspects, identified as Chiheb Esseghaier, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, of Toronto, received “support from al Qaeda elements located in Iran,” in the form of “direction and guidance.” The two men’s plot called for the destruction of a train bound from the US to Canada in an effort to sow terror and harm the economies of both countries.

Esseghaier, a doctoral student at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, has a bachelors degree in Industrial Biology and a masters degree in Industrial Biotechnology, according to his Linkedin page. He lists Nanotechnology as one of his “Skills & Expertise.” He attended college in Tunis and is thought to be a Tunisian.

Before the image was taken down sometime last night, Esseghaier’s Linkedin page displayed in image of al Qaeda’s black flag. This flag was first used by al Qaeda in Iraq but has been adopted by other al Qaeda affiliates.

The remainder of the article is a good backgrounder on the Iran-al Qaeda relationship, including at least a couple of “secret agreements” that allow al-Qaeda transit through Iran.

While the above quote doesn’t claim a direct Iranian role in the plot, unlike the statement quoted in the Washington Examiner piece yesterday, I think it’s reasonable to assume the Iranians at some level knew and approved of what the two were planning and the encouragement al-Qaeda gave them.  Al-Qaeda is in the country on their sufferance, and there is no way Tehran is not going to keep tabs on what they’re doing, lest they unexpectedly find themselves the targets of retaliation after, say, another 9/11-style attack. So, while there’s no direct evidence of Iranian foreknowledge, it’s a safe bet they did.

Which should make the next meeting Canada and Iran’s diplomats quite… interesting.

Also, while there’s a coincidence in time, there’s no evidence I’ve seen of a connection between the train plot and the Boston Marathon attacks. What I do think it hints at, however, is just how many jihad plots there are “out there,” waiting to be put into action. Again, if Esseghaier and Jaser were a pair of “lone wolves” encouraged by al-Qaeda, similar to what may be the truth about the Tsarnaevs, how many others are out there?

Comforting thought, no?

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Breaking: Canadians foil Iranian/al Qaeda New York-Toronto train attack


**Posted by Phineas

They love hitting mass transportation. Breaking in The Washington Examiner:

Canadian security officials announced today that they thwarted a terrorist attack on a passenger train reportedly traveling from New York City to Toronto, planned by two men allegedly tied to al Qaeda.

“I commend our Canadian counterterrorism partners, particularly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for their efforts in stopping a major terrorist plot which was intended to cause significant loss of human life including New Yorkers,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said in a statement today.

The attack had Iranian backing. “They are elements of al Qaeda in Iran,” a Canadian police official told reporters during the press conference while identifying the al Qaeda affiliate that was involved in the attack. “What the investigation has demonstrated is that the support being received was in the form of direction and guidance.”

Emphasis added. Say it after me, folks:

This is war, and they’re still trying to kill us.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

But, I thought Obama said al Qaeda was on the run?


**Posted by Phineas

In al Qaeda's crosshairs

In al Qaeda’s crosshairs

Apparently not so “on the run” that they couldn’t plan to turn Mali into another strategic base:

French forces also discovered “a small army of jihadists” from around the world in the isolated Ametetai valley, Reuters reported. Found with them were arms caches containing heavy weapons, material for improvised explosive devices, and suicide bomb belts. “The Islamist rebels, many of whom have flooded in from abroad, had been well armed and hoped to make the impoverished, arid nation a terrorist sanctuary,” [French General] Le Drian stated.

Al Qaeda planned to turn the region into a base for international terrorist operations, he concluded. “There was certainly the desire to make it a base for international actions.”

Bear in mind that the September 11th attacks were launched from another semi-forgotten backwater, Afghanistan. The last thing we need is for those refugees from a medieval lunatic asylum to find another sanctuary. Well done to the French for going after them, and “good hunting” to General Le Drian and his men.

Meanwhile, let us not forget that Mali’s torment is in large part a direct, if unintended, consequence of Obama’s “Smart Power” foreign policy and the fatuous “responsibility to protect” doctrine:

But the Libyan war’s worst impact may have occurred outside of Libya. The neighboring country of Mali, which also happens to support U.S. counter-terrorist efforts in western Africa, has been roiled by a new Tuareg insurgency fueled by the influx of men and weapons after Gadhafi’s defeat, providing the Tuareg rebels with much more sophisticated weaponry than they had before. This new upheaval benefits al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), and the Tuareg uprising threatens the territorial integrity of Mali. The rebellion has also displaced nearly 200,000 civilians in a region that is already at risk of famine, and refugees from Mali are beginning to strain local resources in Niger, where most of them have fled. “Success” in Libya is creating a political and humanitarian disaster in Mali and Niger. 

Maybe Obama should send one of his apologies to the peoples of Mali and Niger.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Israel blasts Syrian convoy in Lebanon: was it carrying chemical weapons?


**Posted by Phineas

If PJM’s Barry Rubin is right, it’s the development many have feared: a desperate, vengeful Bashar Assad giving WMDs to the genocidal jihadists of Hizbullah:

It has been reported that a number of Israeli planes flew over Lebanon and attacked a convoy near the Syrian-Lebanese border. The fact that this comes shortly after Hizballah and Syrian forces had moved in growing numbers toward known chemical-weapons storage areas implies that the Syrian regime was in the act of shipping chemical weapons to the Lebanese Shia Islamist group (which also happens to dominate the Lebanese government and to be involved in a lot of anti-Israel terrorism) Hizballah. This story has not yet been confirmed by Israel.

During the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war, Israel frequently hit convoys delivering weapons to Lebanon the moment they crossed the Syria-Lebanon border, showing a very strong intelligence capacity on such events.

The Israeli position has been that it will not allow any transfer of advanced weapons by the Syrian regime to either Hizballah or radical Lebanese Sunni groups. Israel had previously made this point clear through public statements to the Syrian government. It has not been explicitly reported whether the weapons on the convoy were chemical ones.

While Israel isn’t commenting officially, a retired general gave what may be an oblique confirmation:

But Brigadier General Amnon Sofrin, a retired army intelligence officer and former head of intelligence for the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, gave a press conference in which he made the following points.

 “I think that if we have solid evidence shared by our own partners all over the world, that chemical warheads are being transferred from Syria to Lebanon, to Hezbollah, I think that no one will condemn Israel for trying to prevent it.”

This should be read as explaining that Israel notified the United States and others of its intelligence information prior to the attack.

Given relations between the Obama administration and the Israeli government, you can bet Jerusalem was not asking for permission, either.

Rubin speculates that these may also have been Russian surface-to-air missiles, meant to shoot down Israeli recon drones so they couldn’t spot later transfers of chemical weapons.  Regardless, this is ominous news. The common wisdom has been that the Assad regime is either doomed or will soon be reduced to a small rump state in the mountains. The question, then, is what becomes of the chemical weapons they’re known to have? (Including those that may have been smuggled from Saddam’s Iraq as it fell?)

The danger is not just that these would be given to Hizbullah in some last act of revenge, though that would be a potential nightmare for Israel. There is also the grave risk that these weapons could fall into the hands of al Qaeda-aligned Syrian rebels, who might then pass them along al Qaeda Central.

And you just know whom Zawahiri would love to unleash these on, if he could get his mitts on them.

This is a good moment to remember that we are still at war, that there are still very determined people on a religious mission to see us dead or subjugated.  They take this very seriously, and so should we.

And I hope, behind the empty brags of having al Qaeda “on the run,” so does President Obama.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)