Tag Archives: Islamic State

Pentagon: New Mosul Strike Destroyed More Cash, Killed ‘Acceptable’ Number of Civilians

by Jason Ditz

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren has confirmed that on Monday, the US launched its second attack on an ISIS “cash collection point” in as many weeks, destroying another pile of unspecified cash in the middle of the large city of Mosul.

As with the previous incident, there were reports of civilian casualties in the attack, though Col. Warren insisted the Pentagon was willing to accept some civilian deaths in the attack, and that the initial estimates were that they only killed “in the single digits.”

Pentagon officials had similarly indicated that in the previous attack they were “comfortable” with civilian casualties in the scores, but that they believed they’d only killed between 7-9. Those deaths have not been formally confirmed by the Pentagon, however, who usually denies reports of civilian deaths as a matter of course.

Col. Warren termed the killings “tragic” but did not indicate that the Pentagon had any qualms about launching such attacks, but warned that ISIS was likely to keep its cash in smaller amounts spread around multiple locations in the future to keep it from getting blown up.

While the first such strike was believed to have destroyed a few million dollars in cash, this latest strike is conspicuous in its lack of details, with officials making no attempt to estimate what they actually destroyed, suggesting the figure will seem less impressive, and less worth the casualties inflicted on the civilian population.

Of course, launching strikes that they know will kill civilian bystanders is widely held to be illegal under international law, and officials made a big deal with the previous attack about launching the strike late at night to limit the number of people around the area. In this case, no such assurances were given.

Clinton, Bipartisan Senators Push for New War Powers Against ISIS

In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton joined a bipartisan group of Senators in calling for an updated authorization of military force against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

A possible vote on military authorization would be the first war vote in 13 years, as up until now, President Obama has used the congressional authorizations given to former President George W. Bush during the invasion of Iraq after 9/11.

[RELATED: Reality Check: Proof U.S. Government Wanted ISIS To Emerge In Syria]

During a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, on Thursday, Clinton called for a new phase in the war against ISIS, and said she thinks the U.S. should lead the fight.

“It’s time to begin a new phase and intensify and broaden our efforts to smash the would-be caliphate,” Clinton said. “This is a worldwide fight, and America must lead it.”

[RELATED: Democratic Debate: Candidates Clash on Foreign Policy, Fighting ISIS]

While Clinton called for the U.S. to increase its efforts to defeat ISIS, she said she does not believe ground troops will be necessary.

“That is just not the smart move to make here,” Clinton said. “If we have learned anything from 15 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s that local people and nations have to secure their own communities. We can help them, and we should, but we cannot substitute for them.”

Instead, Clinton said she thinks the U.S. should send more elite commanders to work with rebel forces. “We may have to give our own troops advising and training the Iraqis greater freedom of movement and flexibility, including embedding in local units and helping target airstrikes,” she said.

Clinton also called for a no-fly zone over Syria. “We should also work with the coalition and the neighbors to impose no-fly zones that will stop Assad from slaughtering civilians and the opposition from the air. Opposition forces on the ground, with material support from the coalition, could then help create safe areas where Syrians could remain in the country, rather than fleeing toward Europe,” Clinton said.

Indicating support for arming Sunni and Kurdish fighters, Clinton said that “Baghdad needs to accept, even embrace, arming Sunni and Kurdish forces in the war against ISIS. But if Baghdad won’t do that, the coalition should do so directly.”

“One thing that I believe we haven’t done yet is make it clear to Baghdad that we are going to be arming Sunni tribes and Kurds if they don’t, because at some point, they have to be in the fight,” she later remarked.

[RELATED: Obama Administration Ends $500 Million Syrian Rebel Training Program]

Clinton’s comments come after the Obama administration announced that it was ending the $500 million program training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels in October, after it was ultimately deemed a failure.

On Wednesday, GOP presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) promised to introduce a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). He said he believes the U.S. has two choices when it comes to the Islamic State: “fight them in their backyard or fight them in ours.”

“We must allow this President and every future President to do whatever is necessary to destroy ISIL before they hit us here at home,” Graham said. “This authorization will mirror the approach we took against al-Qaeda after 9/11.”

Graham’s measure against ISIS, which he promises to introduce after the Thanksgiving recess, could be as broad as the 2001 AUMF granted to Bush, which justifies U.S. military force anytime, anywhere, against anyone believed to be connected to Al-Qaeda.

On Saturday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke out against the current U.S. strategy, and said she believes “we need to further increase our efforts in Syria and Iraq directly and expand our support to partner nations in other countries” where the Islamic State is operating.

“It has become clear that limited air strikes and support for Iraqi forces and the Syrian opposition are not sufficient to protect our country and our allies,” Feinstein said. “This is a war that affects us all, and it’s time we take real action to confront these monsters who target innocent civilians.”

[RELATED: Flashback: What The Media Isn’t Telling You About Syria]

Investigative journalist Ben Swann reported on the origin of ISIS in March, and he noted that while the perception has been created that the group is the “creation of American inaction,” the reality is that they are the “product of direct action.”


Flashback: Ben Swann’s Truth In Media on Syria

In September 2013, Ben Swann released a Truth In Media episode, What The Media Isn’t Telling You About Syria, which focused on what the mainstream media was ignoring regarding the civil war in Syria and explained how U.S. involvement would inevitably lead to the destruction of “millions of people.”

“The U.S. government continues to debate whether or not to arm the rebels in Syria, even as a new poll shows nearly 80% of Americans are saying ‘don’t do it,'” said Swann.

In this episode, Swann explained why U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) visited with General Salim Idris, the leader of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army.

Swann also revealed what the mainstream media would not (and still will not) discuss, including the truth about the unrest among Syrian civilians under President Bashar Al-Assad, the fact that the Al Nusra Front group is the Syrian wing of al Qaeda designated by the U.S as a terror organization, and that the Free Syrian Army lost thousands of members to Al Nusra Front.

“What you need to know,” said Swann, “is that what is happening in Syria is an enormous problem for the United States.”

[pull_quote_center]Al Qaeda in Iraq has publicly stated that their goal is to create an al Qaeda ‘super state,’ comprised of Iraq and Syria. By funding these so-called rebels, the U.S. government is handing al Qaeda the keys to that super state. By the United States supporting the overthrow of Assad, without question, we will hand Syria over to al Qaeda, make no mistake. And the slaughter of millions of Syrians, including Syrian Christians, Jews, Alawites and Muslims, will be on our hands.[/pull_quote_center]

Fast forward to today: ISIS- a group that once was quite small and struggling to gain power- easily absorbed members of the Free Syrian Army and al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front due to U.S. government involvement, and is now the most formidable terror organization on the planet.

Following the publication of this Truth In Media episode, mainstream media reports began surfacing stating that “weapons were being given to Syrian rebels.” According to CNN, the weapons were not American-made, but they were “funded and organized by the CIA.”

Less than one year after the U.S. gave weapons to Syrian “freedom fighters,” those weapons ended up with ISIS fighters. “Those ISIS fighters came from the group McCain insisted would help the U.S. overthrow Assad: the Free Syrian Army,” said Swann, who also explained that “the army was not only sending the Islamic State weapons, it was also sending them fighters,” in his Origin of Isis Truth In Media episode.

By June 2014, ISIS went from being a “no-name” group to one “heavily armed and trained by U.S. and Coalition Special Forces.”

“Our government trained rebel fighters in Syria who would become the group today known as ISIS,” said Swann. “We have watched them commit every violent atrocity you can imagine to people living in Iraq and Syria, and now we want American taxpayers to fund a 30-year war with them.”

Truth In Media’s What The Media Isn’t Telling You About Syria, published two years ago, serves to this day as necessary and meaningful information regarding conflict in Syria that won’t be seen on mainstream media. This episode provides insight for people around the world who are now searching for answers in the face of recent violence and the rise of the Islamic State.

Justin Trudeau Vows to End Canadian Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria

Canada’s prime minister-elect Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that he plans to end Canadian airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria by withdrawing the nation’s fighter jets from the U.S.-led mission.

A day after winning Canada’s federal election, the liberal candidate and son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau said he spoke to President Obama on the phone regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, climate change, the Keystone XL pipeline, and removing Canadian fighter jets from the fight against ISIS.

“About an hour ago I spoke with President Obama, and we talked about Canada’s continued engagement as a strong member of the coalition against ISIL,” Trudeau said. “I committed that we would continue to engage in a responsible way that understands how important Canada’s role is to play in the fight against ISIL, but he understands the commitments I’ve made about ending the combat mission.”

[RELATED: Truth In Media: The Origin of ISIS]

While ending airstrikes in Iraq and Syria has been a part of Trudeau’s campaign, he has also pledged to keep the current Canadian military trainers in place.

The Guardian reported that Canada “currently has six CF-18 fighter jets taking part in the US-led bombing campaign,” that were due to remain in the region until March 2016, as well as “70 special forces troops to train Kurds in northern Iraq.”

[RELATED: Obama Administration Ends $500 Million Syrian Rebel Training Program]

When asked about the timeline he has planned for removing the fighter jets, Trudeau did not give an exact date. “We will be moving forward with our campaign commitments in a responsible fashion,” he replied. “We want to ensure that the tradition is done in an orderly fashion.”

CBC News noted that Trudeau’s plan for removing fighter jets caters to Canada’s Liberal party’s desire to “provide more humanitarian aid in Iraq and Syria” and to have Canada’s military “involved in training missions, not bombing missions.

Obama Administration Ends $500 Million Syrian Rebel Training Program

Obama administration officials announced on Friday that the $500 million program training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels will end, recognizing that the program has yet to produce successful ground forces to combat Islamic State militants.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that instead of continuing the current Syria Train and Equip program, the U.S. will seek to work more closely with capable Kurdish groups, which he called a “more strategic approach.”

“The work we’ve done with the Kurds in northern Syria is an example of an effective approach,” Carter said. “That’s exactly the kind of example that we would like to pursue with other groups in other parts of Syria going forward.”

[RELATED: ISIS Seized 2,300 U.S. Armored Humvees, Possibly Worth 1 Billion Dollars]

The Associated Press noted that the first group of the program’s trainees “largely disbanded soon after they were sent into combat; some were captured or killed, while others fled,” and the second class “yielded only a small number of new fighters, drawing criticism from U.S. lawmakers who condemned the program as a joke and a failure.”

An anonymous senior Defense Department official told the New York Times that the U.S. would stop recruiting “moderate rebels” from Syria to undergo training programs in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, and would set up a training center in Turkey, where leaders of opposition groups would be taught “operational maneuvers like how to call in airstrikes.”

[RELATED: U.S. Senators Call For Obama To End Program Training Syrian Militants]

Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) sent a letter to the Obama administration last week calling for an end to the program, on the basis that it is a “failed initiative” that needs to be stopped before causing “additional harm” to the Syrian people.

“The Syria Train and Equip Program goes beyond simply being an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars,” the senators wrote. “As many of us initially warned, it is now aiding the very forces we aim to defeat.”

[RELATED: Toyota, U.S. Treasury Department Promise to Investigate ISIS-Toyota Connection]

After months of losing both fighters and equipment to Islamic State militants, the U.S. government has said it is now investigating how the group obtained hundreds of Toyota pickup trucks, which have been featured in ISIS propaganda videos.

Investigative journalist Ben Swann reported on the origin of ISIS in March, noting that ISIS experienced dramatic growth in 2014 “because of all the U.S. military equipment they were able to seize – equipment that our military left in Iraq.” 

Swann also noted that even when the U.S. government “became aware that ISIS fighters were capturing U.S. equipment, it did nothing.”


Truth in Media: The Origin of ISIS

In the latest episode of Truth in Media, Ben Swann investigates the origins of the militant group referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The name ISIS is one that every American knows,” Swann said “The biggest threat to our national security since Al-Qaeda, right? They are a brutal, savage group known for public beheadings and mass executions. They are the face of the new war on terror.”

Swann pointed out that while the U.S. Military is currently conducting airstrikes in Syria, in a supposed attempt to take out ISIS targets, the White House and U.S. military leaders are discussing possible boots on the ground in Iraq. These talks are arising just three years after President Obama declared that the war in Iraq was over.

Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told USA Today that in order to defeat ISIS, he believes the United States is looking at “a 30-year-war.”

As the U.S. goes to war in an attempt to defeat yet another terrorist group, the biggest question is: Who exactly is ISIS and where did they come from?

Angela Keaton, the founder of Antiwar.com, said that ISIS is “entirely a creation of the United States’ behavior in Iraq.”

That’s how we got to where we are, because of war, because of occupation, because of torture,” Keaton said. “The United States government completely destabilized and wrecked Iraq. They caused it to fail miserably and that is entirely the fault of the United States government. There is no one else to blame.”

Swann explained that when the U.S. first invaded Iraq, it “blew the country apart.” By destroying the existing government, toppling Saddam Hussein, and destroying the infrastructure, the U.S. “left behind a power vacuum” that would never have existed under Hussein.

Daniel McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute, said that the impact caused by the actions of the United States is a “historical fact that media just won’t discuss.”

This has to do with U.S. action in the region, which destroyed the infrastructure, which destroyed Iraq society, which destroyed the Iraqi government,” McAdams said. He explained that while there were a lot of people who weren’t “as happy as larks” while living under Saddam Hussein, they also weren’t at odds with Hussein in the same way they were with the government established by the U.S.

The militant group ISIS was formed as a small insurgent group in Iraq in 2006. Swann noted that while they tried to create problems for the U.S. military, they had no money and no real ability to recruit.

It wasn’t until 2009 that ISIS shifted its focus from Iraq, where it was largely unsuccessful in developing a foothold, and focused on the civil war in Syria,” Swann said.

While in Syria, ISIS still struggled to gain a foothold. Swann attributed this to the fact that two larger groups fighting against President Bashar al-Assad were overpowering them: al-Nusra Front – or al-Qaeda – and the Free Syrian Army.

Then, came a pivotal moment that most Americans aren’t even aware of,” Swann said. “In June 2013, a Northern General for the Free Syrian Army spoke out on Al Jazeera Qatar and stated that if international forces did not send weapons, the rebels attempting to overthrow Syrian president Bashar al-Assad would lose their war within a month.”

Swann noted that just months before this occurred he had personally confronted President Obama on the issue of why the U.S. was covertly funding Syrian rebels. Although Obama acted as if he was proceeding with caution, politicians such as Senator John McCain demanded action.

Within a matter of weeks of the Syrian general making his plea for international help, the U.S., the Saudis, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey and Israel began providing weapons, training and money to so-called rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army,” Swann said.

In September 2013, American media outlets began reporting that weapons were being given to Syrian rebels. CNN reported that while the weapons are not “American-made,” they were “funded and organized by the CIA.”

However, Swann said that things began to fall apart when less than one year after the U.S. supplied Syrian “freedom fighters” with weapons, those weapons ended up in the hands of ISIS fighters.

Those ISIS fighters came from the group McCain insisted would help the U.S. overthrow Assad: the Free Syrian Army. Swann explained that the army was not only sending the Islamic State weapons, it was also sending them fighters.

The Free Syrian Army has lost most of the land that it ever claimed and it’s entirely incompetent,” Keaton said. “The only thing that it has been good at is currying favor with western leaders.”

Swann said that it wasn’t until June 2014 that ISIS went from being a “no-name group in Syria” to a group that was “heavily armed and trained by U.S. and Coalition Special Forces.” This revitalized group made a dramatic entrance by crossing back over the Syrian border into Iraq and capturing Mosul and much of the northern part of the country.

One of the most important facts that mainstream media ignores time and time again is that ISIS was able to grow so fast, because of all the U.S. military equipment they were able to seize – equipment that our military left in Iraq,” said Swann. “Truckloads of Humvees, tanks and weaponry that instead of taking or destroying, the U.S. government simply decided to leave behind.

However, even when the U.S. government became aware that ISIS fighters were capturing U.S. equipment, it did nothing. Swann attributed the lack of action to the fact that ISIS fighters were taking the equipment back into Syria to continue fighting Assad, which was what the U.S. government wanted.

How is it that the United States, with all of its intelligence capabilities, didn’t know this threat was coming?” McAdams said. “How many billions did we spend, maybe a hundred billion on total intelligence community budge over the year? How did they have no idea?”

Swann said that the answer is simple: “The U.S. did know who ISIS was, but the so-called Islamic State was doing what the Obama administration wanted.”

The ISIS fighters continued to do what the Obama administration wanted, and in late summer 2014, they were labeled what Swann called, “the new boogeyman in the war on terror.”

Over the past few months, the U.S. government, who acted like they had never even heard of ISIS, suddenly, with the help of media has turned the Islamic State into the new focus of the war on terror,” Swann said. “Now, as ISIS has continued its rise, recruitment is exploding and the group is becoming stunningly wealthy.”

Swann noted that in response to the “ISIS threat,” the U.S. began “conducting airstrikes on Syrian oil fields, instead of going after those buying the oil.”

McAdams pointed out that ISIS makes $2 million a day off of selling oil, and the United States’ response, of “undercutting the competition” by blowing up oil fields makes no sense. He questioned why the U.S., which is known for sanctioning “anything that moves,” when it’s angry, is not placing sanctions on the banks or the oil companies that are involved.

Swann added that in addition to those questions, Americans should also be asking, “Why is the U.S. sending $500 million to the Free Syrian Army to fight ISIS when the FSA is one of the biggest suppliers of fighters and weapons to ISIS?” and “Why are we sending new and more powerful weapons to the FSA like anti-aircraft missiles – weapons that we know will be in the hands of ISIS?

Swann maintained that while the mainstream media will say that ISIS is the “creation of American inaction,” the reality is that they are the “product of direct action.”

This direct action started with “the action of creating a power vacuum in Iraq” and manifested into the “arming violent Jihadists, hoping they would overthrow a leader in a neighboring Middle Eastern country.”

McAdams described the U.S. government as a victim of its own insane policies, due to the fact that it is “very good at blowing things up, but really bad at putting them back together.”

In determining whether or not McAdams’ statement was true, Swann listed three facts:

Fact #1: “Our government armed Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and created al-Qaeda.”

Fact #2: “Our government put Saddam Hussein into power – we helped supply and create chemical weapons for him to use against Iran in 1980 – and then we overthrew him in 2003.”

Fact #3: “Our government trained rebel fighters in Syria who would become the group today known as ISIS. We have watched them commit every violent atrocity you can imagine to people living in Iraq and Syria, and now we want American taxpayers to fund a 30-year war with them.”

Swann came to the conclusion that it isn’t the U.S. government being held hostage by crazy policies; rather it is the American people.

It is time that we reject the destruction of people groups around the world for the sake of foreign policy that makes so-called defense contractors rich, and perpetuates violence, death, and the destruction of entire people groups,” Swann said. “This is the central issue of our time – because humanity is greater than politics.”

“Hillary’s War” Backfires As US-Backed Libyan Rebel Leader Starts ISIS Offshoot in Libya

In February of this year, US Senator Rand Paul said that the US-led effort to overthrow Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 destabilized the region and created what he called a “jihadist wonderland.” Said Rand Paul in comments quoted by The Wall Street Journal, “Gaddafi was a secular dictator… Not the kind of guy that we want to have representing us in country, but he was secular. He didn’t like radical Islam, and he kept them down because they were a threat to him. What happened when we toppled the secular dictator? Chaos. More radical Islam.” Senator Paul called the Libyan intervention “Hillary’s war,” noting the fact that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed for the US to get involved in the conflict, and said that it had empowered and armed extremists that would later turn against the United States.

Now, The Washington Times is reporting that former US-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group leader Abdelhakim Belhadj has joined ISIS in an effort to lead a beefing-up of the terror group’s presence in Libya. ISIS has been attempting to spread its influence into Libya, beginning in late 2014 when ISIS occupied the Libyan city of Derna and began training fighters there. The Washington Times notes that ISIS’ strategy for expansion includes the incorporation of existing jihadist groups into a global caliphate, with the integration of Belhadj’s reported Libyan ISIS franchise falling in line with that plan.

Frank Gaffney, Jr. wrote in The Washington Times, “Belhadj’s ties to al Qaeda were controversial during the run up to US airstrikes in support of the Libyan rebels, but this did not prevent him from maintaining a high profile at the time, including being made head of the Tripoli Military Council, a position he held until resigning to run for office in May 2012. Belhadj has a reputation for involvement in the international jihad has well, playing a role in the 2004 Madrid train bombings, and accused by investigators of being involved in the murder of two Tunisian politicians at behest of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Newsweek notes that thousands of foreign fighters have flooded into Libya over the past few days in an effort to bolster Belhadj’s growing ISIS army. A “Libyan Dawn” coalition, made up of Belhadj’s group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the al-Qaeda linked terror group Ansar al-Sharia, currently controls Tripoli and claims to be the official government of Libya, though the western-backed government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni has obtained UN recognition, setting up an intense conflict as ISIS begins its push for dominance in Libya.

New Truth in Media Episode: The Origins of ISIS Releases Next Week

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 the Truth in Media Project will release its newest episode, “The Origins of ISIS”. This episode will delve into the truth behind where ISIS came from in the first place and why the Islamic State is not a product of American “inaction” in Iraq and Syria but rather the product of “direct action”.

Sign up to receive the new episode direct to your inbox http://truthinmedia.com/newsletter

Obama Preparing to Send Congress Request for Official Military Force Against ISIS

The White House is expected to send a resolution to Congress on Tuesday, requesting the clearance to use military force against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

According to Reuters, the Obama administration’s “failure so far to seek a formal Authorization to Use Military Force for the campaign” has left some members of Congress concerned that it “overstepped the president’s constitutional authority.

The Associated Press noted that so far Obama has relied on the resolution Congress passed in 2002, authorizing President George W. Bush to use force against Iraq, which is something “scores of Democrats have regretted” and something Obama “used as a cudgel against his rivals to win the Democratic presidential nomination.”

Representative Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, said that he and his fellow Democrats were not going to just write Obama a “blank-check.”

Some want to give the executive a blank-check, and there are others, including me, who want to limit the war-making authority, especially with U.S. ground combat forces,” said Van Hollen. “Will it narrow it to Iraq and Syria, or allow operations in other countries?

Senator Orrin Hatch, a Republican from Utah, said he disagreed with anyone who wanted to limit the use of ground troops or to put an expiration date on authorization.

Most importantly, the authorization should not impose any artificial and unnecessary limitations such as those based on time, geography and type of force that could interfere with our strategic objective of defeating Islamic State,” Hatch said.

Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii, said that although he has been “clear in opposition to boot on the ground,” he does want to see what the White House has proposed.

It’s traditional and expected for an administration to articulate their strategy to the Congress, so we want to give them a chance to do so,” Schatz said.

According to Reuters, the leader of the House of Representatives’ Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, released a statement last week saying the White House “would seek an authorization that would last three years,” but has not decided on “the geographic scope of an authorization or what limits would be placed on combat troops.”

Although the United States began carrying out airstrikes against ISIS in August, Obama has said that he will not authorize the use of ground troops to fight ISIS, and he will instead rely on a coalition that includes Iraqi forces and Syrian rebels on the ground.

Obama’s strategy regarding ISIS has been criticized by U.S. officials, such as former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said he finds Obama’s resolve to completely destroy ISIS, both “unrealistic” and “unattainable,” and that instead of being pre-occupied with “today’s crisis,” the United States should be looking at its long-term strategy in the Middle East.

Former Defense Secretary: Obama’s Goal to Destroy ISIS is Unrealistic

On Sunday, former United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that he finds President Obama’s current resolve to completely destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), both “unrealistic” and “unattainable,” and that instead of being pre-occupied with “today’s crisis,” the United States should be looking at its long-term strategy in the Middle East.

Gates, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011, discussed his thoughts on the United States’ involvement with ISIS on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

Gates said that while he thinks the U.S. has “made some successful steps to contain” the radical Islamic group, he also acknowledges that ISIS has “reached the natural limits of where they would have sympathetic people,” specifically in northern and western Iraq.

I think the President has set an ambitious, and under current circumstances, unrealistic goal, when he talks about our intent being to destroy ISIS,” said Gates. “With the means that he has approved so far, I think that’s an unattainable objective.”

Gates went on to say that the United States has set “unrealistic goals” for itself when setting out to destroy radical groups like the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and ISIS. “I mean we’ve been at Al-Qaeda with all of the resources of the American military and intelligence community for 14 years now and we haven’t destroyed it,” Gates said.

In his opinion, Gates said that rather than working to completely destroy ISIS, the U.S. should be working to “deny them the ability to hang on to territory,” due to the fact that territory “gives them a base from which potentially to plot against us and against Western Europe.”

“I think you need to take a step back and realize the complexity and historical magnitude of the challenge we’re facing,” said Gates. “First of all, we have four conflicts going on simultaneously in the Middle East: The Sunni vs. Shia, authoritarians vs. reformers, Islamists vs. secularists, and then the question of whether artificially created countries like Syria, Libya, and Iraq can hold together absent repression.”

Gates noted that in addition to the current generational conflict, the Middle East is also experiencing the “beginnings of what appears to be the falling apart of the entire state system in the Middle East,” due to the fact that in half a dozen countries, “the central government does not control the country.”

Military is clearly one tool, but it is by far not the only one,” said Gates. “There are huge problems that are going on and frankly, I think we are so pre-occupied with dealing with today’s crisis we haven’t stepped back and figured out, ‘What kind of a long term strategy do we have and what are the tools we can use?‘”

Islamic State Commander Claims Funding Coming From the United States

An alleged commander of the Islamic State in Pakistan, or Daish,  claims that his operations have been funded through channels in the United States.

Yousaf al Salafi was reportedly arrested with two other men on January 22 in Lahore, Pakistan. The Express-Tribune reports that al Salafi had actually been arrested in December but had only recently been discussed publicly. He is alleged to have gone to Pakistan from Turkey and established an Islamic State group.

The Express-Tribune reported that a source close to the investigation into al Salafi confirmed that he “revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run the organisation in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria.” The Commander claimed he was receiving $600 per individual who agreed to go to Syria. The report says these revelations were shared with Secretary of State John Kerry.

“The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests and that is why it launched offensive against the organisation in Iraq but not in Syria”

– Source to the Express-Tribune

Julie Lenarz, executive director of the Human Security Centre thinktank, told the IB Times that much of Islamic State’s funding is being processed through the international banking system. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, all allies to the US, have been tied to funding for the Islamic State.


The brutality of ISIS on full display in new photos

Editor’s note: Google has found these images to be too graphic and warned that we could lose our advertising account. We have removed the images in question.


WARNING: The following images may be disturbing to some viewers.

The terrorist group known as ISIS has reportedly used brutal tactics in the past few months in order to claim and hold land in the Middle East, but a series of photos have been released showing the extent of how ISIS fighters punish law breakers in their controlled lands.

Among the photos are a few depicting an ISIS execution of two homosexual men by pushing them from a tall balcony. The pictures show a man being pushed onto a ledge, another of a man falling through the open air, and one of two bodies lying on the ground surrounded by pools of blood. As is evident in the pictures, these were public executions as a crowd had formed at the base of the balcony where the men were pushed.

Two blindfolded men are also showed crucified to wooden beams, while a man stands in front of them and a surrounding crowd and reads their crimes. According to the Daily Record, the men were accused of banditry. After their charges are read, two militants step up behind the crucified men and execute each with a single shot from their respective handguns.

Final, a set of images shows the execution by stoning of a woman. Her execution can be said to be less public as it appears to be taking place in a secluded, wooded area, but the brutality of her death via stoning is still on display.

Public executions have been reportedly taking place in all ISIS controlled areas since the group declared their lands the Caliphate, or Islamic State.

Charles Lister of the Brookings Institute’s Doha Center researched ISIS’ version of Sharia Law and published his findings under the title “Profiling the Islamic State.” In this research, Lister writes, “The implementation of a strict form of sharia law is clearly central to IS’s governance.” In this version of Sharia Law, serious punishments are dealt out to people who violate seemingly minute offenses such as listening to non-Islamic music or deviating from the assigned dress code implemented by ISIS.

Given ISIS’ penchant for a wide range of propaganda, these images and executions seem to serve multiple purposes. Not only are crimes being punished in these pictures, but the images may also be meant to scare people in and around ISIS controlled areas.  

German man sentenced for joining ISIS

In Germany, a 20-year-old man, who has been identified as Kreshnik Berisha, has been sentenced to nearly four years in jail after he admitted to joining ISIS fighters in Syria.

Berisha, according to Reuters spent six months in Syria last year, training and fighting alongside Islamic State militants.  However, the German court said there was no conclusive evidence to support the claim that he had been directly involved in any combat or fighting.

Originally, the prosecution sought four years and three months of jail time for Berisha.  Although, because he was perceived by the German judges to lack the maturity of an adult, he was sentenced to three years and nine months as a juvenile.

In the German court system, a person between the ages of 18-21 can be tried as a juvenile if they are thought to lack the maturity of an adult.

“As a youth he was not able to resist the influence of his Islamist friends,” said chief judge Thomas Sagebiel, according to Newsweek.  The judges are hoping the juvenile sentence will have the necessary educational effects to rehabilitate Berisha since he displayed radical Islamic attitudes.

Berisha’s attorney told the courts he went to Syria to fight against and overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.  He then admitted to the court that he had received weapons training from ISIS fighters and he had joined the Islamic State.

It is estimated that about 550 German citizens have traveled to the Middle East in order to join ISIS, while thousands of others from other Western nations have made the same trip.

British and French courts have also sentenced their citizens to jail time after they traveled to the Middle East to support ISIS.  French courts sentenced one man, who spent only 10 days in Syria, to seven years in prison.  British courts sentenced two brothers to three-and-a-half years in prison for being trained in Syria.

Rand Paul Calls for Declaration of War on ISIS

On Monday, Senator Rand Paul released the draft for a Declaration of War resolution against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which he plans to introduce to Congress in December.

Paul began the resolution by citing Article I, section 8, of the United States Constitution, which gives Congress the power to declare war. He stated that due to the fact that ISIS “has declared war on the United States and its allies,” along with the fact that ISIS “presents a clear and present danger to United States diplomatic facilities in the region,” the U.S. Congress should declare war in return.

The state of war between the United States and the organization referring to itself as the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been thrust upon the United States, is hereby formally declared pursuant to Article I, section 8, clause 11, of the United States Constitution.

The resolution went on to state that it would give the President authorization to “use the Armed Forces of the United States to protect the people and facilities of the United States in Iraq and Syria against the threats” posed by ISIS.

In addition to taking action against ISIS, Paul seeks to repeal the authorization of the “use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq,” which was signed by President Bush in 2002.

The resolution also proposed that the “authorization for the use of military force,” which was signed in 2001, and has been used by President Obama to carry out airstrikes in Yemen and Somalia, would be terminated exactly one year after the resolution is authorized.

Regarding the possibility of using ground troops to combat ISIS, the resolution stated that ground troops would only be used “as necessary for the protection or rescue of members of the United States Armed Forces or United States citizens from imminent danger” posed by ISIS.

U.S. Encourages Coalition Partners to Intensify Fight Against ISIS… Online?

On Monday, United States officials met with representatives from Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Emirates in Kuwait City to discuss the current operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The U.S. encouraged its coalition partners to increase the fight against the Islamic State militants’ presence on the Internet, and to further combat the recruitment campaigns and other propaganda spread by the group through social networking sites such as YouTube and Twitter.

According to RT, ISIS has “embraced online media as a place to recruit people and spread their propaganda worldwide,” by releasing videos such as the one titled “There Is No Life Without Jihad,” which “allegedly shows a line-up of militants who came to Syria and later to Iraq from all over the world.”

The coordinator of the operation against ISIS, retired U.S. General John Allen, said that the group is using a “horrendous brand of warfare,” which “recruits and perverts the innocent.

According to Allen, the only way to defeat the group is to “deny the legitimacy of the message it sends to vulnerable young people.”

“I strongly encourage participants to set forth tangible work plans that will directly and rapidly counter ISIL’s propaganda in cyberspace and the press,” said Allen, using an alternative acronym to describe the group.

Yahoo News reported that, “concern is growing over the group’s online influence in attracting foreign fighters and promoting attacks by disaffected Muslims on Western targets.”

The Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Richard Stengel, highlighted the need for an “information battlefield,” to aid the campaign against ISIS.

Whatever we do collectively on the battlefield needs to be amplified on the information battlefield,” said Stengel.

Following the meeting in Kuwait City, the coalition partners released a joint statement saying that they had discussed ways to strengthen the resistance against ISIS, which included “actively opposing the recruitment of foreign fighters and encouraging important religious and social leaders, opinion makers, and the millions of young people who oppose violent extremism to raise their voices through traditional and social media.

Putin Condemns The U.S. for Undermining World Order and Instigating the Rise of ISIS

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the current world order at a meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club. During his speech, Putin spoke out in condemnation of the United States, and its relations with the rest of the world, and he proposed the need for a new system.

Putin prefaced his message by saying that although he may seem “a bit too harsh,” he felt it was necessary to speak directly and honestly.

We need to be direct and blunt today not so as to trade barbs, but so as to attempt to get to the bottom of what is actually happening in the world,” said Putin, who went on to say that they must be direct in order to “try to understand why the world is becoming less safe and more unpredictable.”

As we analyze today’s situation, let us not forget history’s lessons.”

Addressing the current state of international relations, Putin said that what the world needed to do was to “carry out a rational reconstruction and adapt it to the new realities in the system of international relations.”

Putin used the analogy of the Cold War, saying that the United States, who “declared itself the winner,” saw no need for adapting to a new system.

Instead of establishing a new balance of power, essential for maintaining order and stability, they took steps that threw the system into sharp and deep imbalance,” Putin said.

We have entered a period of differing interpretations and deliberate silences in world politics,” said Putin. He defined the current time as one where “objectivity and justice have been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency,” and where “arbitrary interpretations and biased assessments have replaced legal norms.”

Total control of the global mass media has made it possible when desired to portray white as black and black as white.”

Putin described the situation where, when one country had domination over all others, “the search for global solutions often turned into an attempt to impose their own universal recipes.”

The measures taken against those who refuse to submit are well-known and have been tried and tested many times,” said Putin. “They include use of force, economic and propaganda pressure, meddling in domestic affairs, and appeals to a kind of ‘supra-legal’ legitimacy when they need to justify illegal intervention in this or that conflict or in toppling inconvenient regimes.”

Putin then addressed the current state of the United States’ use of surveillance, saying that it was evidence that “outright blackmail has been used with regard to a number of leaders.”

It is not for nothing that ‘big brother’ is spending billions of dollars on keeping the whole world, including its own closest allies, under surveillance.”

Putin explored the idea that “the United States’ exceptional position and the way they are carrying out their leadership really is a blessing for us all,” and that their “meddling in events all around the world is bringing peace, prosperity, progress, growth and democracy,” and that maybe the rest of the world should “relax and enjoy it all.” He then determined, “this is not the case, absolutely not the case.”

Putin pointed out that rather than helping other countries, “imposing one’s own models produces the opposite result.” He said that this was evidenced by the fact that “instead of democracy there is support for a very dubious public ranging from open neo-fascists to Islamic radicals.”

Commenting on the fact that he never ceases to be amazed by the way other countries continue to make the same mistakes over and over, Putin used the example of the Islamic extremist groups, which were sponsored by the West to fight the Soviet Union, and then went on to become the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

The West if not supported, at least closed its eyes, and, I would say, gave information, political and financial support to international terrorists’ invasion of Russia,” said Putin. “Only after horrific terrorist attacks were committed on U.S. soil itself did the United States wake up to the common threat of terrorism.

Putin then addressed the current events in Syria, pointing out the fact that the United States and its allies were responsible for “directly financing and arming rebels.

Raising the question of how rebels received money, arms, and military specialists, which led to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as an armed force, Putin brought up Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, which was “left in ruins” by the United States, and which had driven many people “out into the street.”

“What was the result? Tens of thousands of soldiers, officers and former Baath Party activists were turned out into the streets and today have joined the rebels’ ranks,” said Putin, who suggested that this might explain why the Islamic State group “has turned out so effective.”

Russia warned repeatedly about the dangers of unilateral military actions, intervening in sovereign states’ affairs, and flirting with extremists and radicals,” Putin said.

Putin stated that he closely follows the discussions by “both the ruling elite and the expert community,” and that some of the largest problems with the United States can be demonstrated by the headlines found in its’ media over the last year.

“The same people are called fighters for democracy, and then Islamists,” said Putin. “First they write about revolutions and then call them riots and upheavals. The result is obvious: the further expansion of global chaos.”

Putin concluded that given the global situation, “it is time to start agreeing on fundamental things.

The logical way out is in cooperation between nations, societies, in finding collective answers to increasing challenges, and in joint risk management,” said Putin. “Granted, some of our partners, for some reason, remember this only when it suits their interests.”

Watch Putin’s full speech below:

U.S. Humanitarian Aid for Kurds, Going to ISIS Instead

As the United States continues its mission to ultimately “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), it hinders any progress made through airstrikes, by continuing to provide the targeted land with aid and supplies.

The aid coming to the Jihadist-controlled territory, from the West, consists of mostly food and medical supplies, and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development, numerous European donors, and the United Nations.

According to The Daily Beast, the current debate is over whether or not to continue the aid, which is “meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians,” but is being controlled and manipulated by Islamic State militants.

An anonymous aid worker told The Daily Beast that “the convoys have to be approved by ISIS and you have to pay them: The bribes are disguised and itemized as transportation costs.

This translates into ISIS putting more money towards war efforts, due to the fact that it does not have to worry about coming up with the money to provide as much for the civilians in the area it controls.

A Middle East expert from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington D.C., Jonathan Schanzer, is concerned that providing aid to the areas controlled by Islamic State militants will make Syrian civilians favor having the militants in power.

I am alarmed that we are providing support for ISIS governance,” said Schanzer. “By doing so we are indemnifying the militants by satisfying the core demands of local people, who could turn on ISIS if they got frustrated.”

Another anonymous aid worker explained to The Daily Beast the debate between “right and wrong” the workers go through when they are required to deliver supplies that they know will benefit Islamic State militants. The worker explained one instance that occurred a few months ago, when he and his coworkers were delivering aid to a mobile clinic.

The clinic was earmarked for the treatment of civilians, but we all know that wounded ISIS fighters could easily be treated as well,” said the worker. “So what are we doing here helping their fighters, who we are bombing, to be treated so they can fight again?”

However, The Daily Beast reported that what becomes “even more bizarre” is the fact that while U.S. humanitarian aid flows into ISIS-controlled territory, “only a little is going into Kurdish areas in northeast Syria.”

Here Comes The Call for Ground Troops in Iraq

As the United States continues to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), U.S. officials fear that solely relying on airstrikes has not proved to be effective enough, and they are warning that the installment of ground troops could occur in the future.

These warnings have been made, despite the fact that President Obama has vowed more than once that the U.S. would not send ground troops back into Iraq.

On Saturday, The Telegraph reported that Iraqi officials have issued a “desperate plea for America to bring US ground troops back,” due to the fact that Islamic States militants are now “within striking distance of Baghdad.

On Sunday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, told ABC’s This Week, that ISIS is becoming “harder to target.

Dempsey said the Iraqi government needed to put more effort into winning over the 20 million Sunni Muslims who live between Damascus and Baghdad, due to the fact that Islamic State militants are “blending into parts of the disenfranchised Sunni population,” which has made defeating the militants a “very challenging task.”

According to Dempsey, the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which was seized by Islamic State militants in June, will most likely be the “decisive battle in the ground campaign at some point in the future.

My instinct at this point is that will require a different kind of advising and assisting because of the complexity of that fight,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey pointed out that the “freedom of movement” ISIS currently exhibits, has also been a problem, and has allowed the fighters to come within 25 kilometers of the Baghdad Airport, which led to Iraqi forces calling for assistance from U.S. Apache helicopters.

Had they overrun the Iraqi unit, it was a straight shot to the airport,” said Dempsey. “So we’re not going to allow that to happen. We need that airport.”

When asked about the current “operation” of defeating ISIS on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, “First of all, they’re winning and we’re not.”

The Iraqis are not winning. The Peshmerga, the Kurds are not winning, and there’s a lot of aspects of this,” said McCain. “But there has to be a fundamental re-evaluation of what we’re doing because we are not degrading and ultimately destroying ISIS.”

During the same program, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pointed out that although ISIS is recognized as an international problem, it’s the U.S. that appears to be “doing all of the work.”

What I do not want, and I fear very much, is the United States getting sucked into a quagmire and being involved in perpetual warfare year after year after year,” said Sanders.

Iraq War III, Even If ISIS is Defeated U.S. Still Loses

While President Obama leads the charge to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), so that it is “no longer a threat – not just to Iraq but also to the region and to the United States,” many are convinced that going above and beyond to exterminate this group won’t solve the root of the problem in the Middle East.

At a recent meeting of the United Nations Security Council, the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, said that in order to combat terror, one must “understand what the most adequate instruments” are in a society. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if the destruction of ISIS led to the rise of another terror group that was even worse:

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if by next year, in 2015, ISIS has disappeared and some other group with another strange name has appeared that is even more violent.

In a recent editorial for the Washington Post, a professor of International Relations and History at Boston University, Andrew Bacevich, echoed a similar sentiment.

Bacevich, a political scientist specializing in American foreign policy, pointed out that Syria is the 14th country in the Middle East that has been invaded, bombed, or occupied by U.S. forces since 1980.

With our 14th front barely opened, the Pentagon foresees a campaign likely to last for years. Yet even at this early date, this much already seems clear: Even if we win, we loseDefeating the Islamic State would only commit the United States more deeply to a decades-old enterprise that has proved costly and counterproductive.”

Looking back at previous U.S. operations, Bacevich noted that from airstrikes to ground troops, “U.S. efforts to promote stability have tended to produce just the opposite.

By inadvertently sowing instability, the United States has played directly into the hands of anti-Western radical Islamists intent on supplanting the European-imposed post-Ottoman order with something more to their liking,” wrote Bacevich. “This is the so-called caliphate that Osama bin Laden yearned to create and that now exists in embryonic form in the portions of Iraq and Syria that Islamic State radicals control.

Although President Obama is currently calling on allies to form a coalition that will help defeat ISIS, Bacevich writes that even if the operation does succeed, he doubts that the “prospects of regional harmony will improve.

Suppress the symptoms, and the disease simply manifests itself in other ways,” wrote Bacevich. “There is always another Islamic State waiting in the wings.

Fourth ISIS hostage beheaded in yet another video

British aid worker Alan Henning, another ISIS hostage, has been beheaded on video three weeks after the Scottish aid worker David Haines was executed in a similar fashion.

In the video, a man dressed in orange speaks to the camera, saying, according to ABC News, “I am Alan Henning. Because of our Parliament’s decision to attack the Islamic State [ISIS], I, as a member of the British public, will now pay the price for that decision.”

The executioner standing next to Henning then speaks to the camera before carrying out the grizzly act, saying, “The blood of [fellow slain captive] David Haines was on your hands, [British Prime Minister David] Cameron… Alan Henning will also be slaughtered but his blood is on the hands of the British Parliament.”

The video has yet to be authenticated by US or British intelligence agencies.

Henning was captured in Syria last December as he was driving an aid truck across the border between Turkey and Syria, according to the AP.  This was the second time Henning took part in an aid convoy into Syria where he and a group of Muslim friends delivered medical equipment.

According to the Guardian, a group of armed gunmen surrounded a warehouse, which Henning was in, and took Henning captive.  The gunmen said they were suspicious of Henning since he was not Muslim like the rest of the volunteers, and they were also concerned about a chip in his UK passport.  The other volunteers tried to show the gunmen how all UK passports carried a similar chip, but this did not deter them from taking Henning.

Earlier, Barbara Henning, the wife of Alan Henning, released her own video, asking ISIS to release her husband, saying, “Surely those who wish to be seen as a state will act in a statesman-like way by showing mercy and providing clemency.”

Barbara also said, according to the BBC, “Muslims across the globe continue to question Islamic State over Alan’s fate.”

Two British Imams, last month, also made a claim for sparing Henning’s life, saying holding Henning was against Islamic law and “haram [forbidden].”

At the end of the video, another hostage clad in orange is shown to the camera.  This fifth hostage was identified as American Peter Kassig, but like the rest of the video, these claims have not been verified yet.