Tag Archives: terrorism

President Obama Sending 475 Additional Troops To Iraq

President Obama addressed the nation Wednesday night to announce the U.S. strategy to deal with ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

The President announced that in addition to several hundred American servicemen and women who were deployed to Iraq, he will send an additional 475 service members to Iraq.

Speaking of those soldiers, the President said, “They will not have a combat mission. We will not be dragged into another ground war in Iraq.”

The President went on to say that within the next few weeks he will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to deal with ISIS.

This “counter terrorism campaign” as it is being called, according to the President “will not involve combat troops on foreign soil.”

President Obama also stated that as Commander in Chief he has full authority to deal with ISIS, but under the War Powers Act, the President only has the authority to take military action if the United States is under immediate threat. Clearly, that is not the case here.

The President also talked about working along side the Assad regime in Syria to defeat ISIS.

President Obama to lay out new plan to fight the Islamic State

In a press conference set to take place hours before the anniversary of 9/11, President Obama is set to unveil his plan to take further action against the Islamic State and ISIS in the Middle East.

The president initially had a meeting with leaders of Congress Tuesday, where President Obama said the U.S. is “stronger and our efforts more effective” when he and members of Congress work together towards a common goal.  President Obama also took a moment to say he has the authority to combat ISIS and the Islamic State and he will lay out this plan Wednesday night.

Despite these remarks, President Obama is expected to ask for Congressional approval to quickly arm and militarize U.S. forces to quicken his plan of “degrading and ultimately destroying” the Islamic State and ISIS.

As part of the president’s plan to fight ISIS, the AP is reporting the president could ask for a variety of ways to intervene, including more airstrike efforts throughout Iraq and maybe Syria, as well as training and arming Syrian fighters to fight the threat.  The president is also expected to ask for European backing as well as backing from other countries in the Middle East.

A senior administration member also told reporters, according to the Guardian, “The president will discuss how we are building a coalition of allies and partners in the region and in the broader international community to support our efforts, and will talk about how we work with the Congress as a partner in these efforts.”

President Obama has emphasized, in the past few days, the need to view the Islamic State as one organization rather than one group in Iraq and one in Syria.  This could implicate the president’s willingness to broaden the plan t only fight ISIS in Iraq to fighting ISIS in all of their controlled territories.

Sotloff family says their son was sold to ISIS prior to beheading

A family spokesman for the Sotloff family is now saying their son Steven, who was the second American journalist to be beheaded on film by ISIS, was sold to the Islamic State by moderate rebels in the Middle-East.

“For the first time we can say Steven was sold at the (Syrian) border,” said Sotloff family representative and research fellow at the New American Foundation, Barak Barfi, according to CBS News.  “We believe these so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support- one of them sold him probably for something between $25,000 and $50,000 and that was the reason he was captured.”

Barfi also says he received a phone call from Sotloff, before he was kidnapped, from inside the Syrian border.  According to RT, Barfi says “sources on the ground” are pointing to rebel forces who opposed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as hose responsible for tipping off members of ISIS to their capture and willingness to sell Sotloff.

These moderate rebels who captured Sotloff and have been waging this war against al-Assad have reportedly received support from the U.S. in the form of weapons and training to support their opposition to al-Assad.  A report from the research group Conflict Armament Research has also said the weapons, which have been given to the moderate Syrian rebels, have ended up in the hands of ISIS fighters across the region.

After making these statements, Barfi said the relationship between the Sotloff family and President Obama’s administration has been strained and tense.

They (the administration) said that these hostages were moved frequently,” Barfi told CNN.  ” We know that for most of the beginning of part of this year they were stationary. We know that the intelligence community and the White House are enmeshed in a larger game of bureaucratic infighting and Jim and Steve are pawns in that game and that’s not fair.”

“We need to be able to work closer with our allies,” Barfi said, according to the International Business Times. “Intelligence sharing and cooperation just isn’t as good as it should be.”

US State Dept. Fights Terrorist Recruitment Using Graphic Video

The State Department has released a graphic video called “Welcome to the ‘Islamic State’ land” marketed to would-be terrorists in hopes of thwarting future recruitment to extremist groups such as ISIS by using gruesome imagery and footage of violent acts.

The video, age-restricted on YouTube, is an imitation recruitment video itself, beginning with the words “Run do not walk to Isis land.” Following are clips of people being shot, thrown into ditches, whipped, beheaded, and crucified. “Come over for as Syria is no longer for Syrians and Iraq is no longer for Iraqis. Where you can learn new skills for the Ummah! Blowing up mosques! Crucifying and executing Muslims…plundering public resources,” reads the video.

The video was created for a State Department project titled “ThinkAgain TurnAway”. The campaign also created accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. On its Facebook page, the project stated that its mission is “to expose the facts about terrorists and their propaganda.” On its Tumblr page, its description is “some truths about terrorism”. The State Department considers social media to be an important tool in intercepting possible terrorists before they join extremist groups.

The “Welcome to the ‘Islamic State’ land” video is the most macabre example of the campaign showcasing terrorism; their Tumblr and Facebook pages and Twitter account provide reported examples of ISIS members changing their minds about joining the group and wanting to return home. The campaign has also shared photos of acts that they report to be ISIS members mistreating civilians.

Buzzfeed described the effort as “trolling terrorists” because the campaign uses social media to jeer the extremists; one example includes a tweeted photo of female Kurdish soldiers targeted toward ISIS. One unintended consequence that major media outlets have yet to discuss is the possibility of the satirical recruitment video becoming lost in translation.

 

 

 

The video

Iran-US alliance possible to fight ISIS

An unlikely fellowship may sprout between the U.S. and Iran as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has shown support for U.S. military intervention against ISIS in the Middle-East.

Iran’s foreign ministry official said, according to the BBC, Iran would not co-operate with the U.S. against the Islamic State, but the Ayatollah has authorized his top military commander to work with U.S., Iraqi, and Kurdish military forces to bring a stop to ISIS in the Middle-East.

This comes days after reports saying the Iraqi town of Amerli, which was under ISIS control, was liberated by a coalition of U.S., Iraqi, and Iranian military forces.  The U.S. provided air power, performing airstrikes throughout the town, while Iraqi and Iranian militiamen liberated the town on foot.  Iraqi President Faud Masum confirmed this according to CNN.

As the Economist points out, the militias are not Iranian military forces as we might think of them.  These Iranian militiamen are not directly linked to the Iranian government, but they are either members of the al-Quds, a clandestine arm of Iran’s revolutionary guard, or they are followers of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who is considered one of the most central religious and political leaders in Iraq.

Al-Sadr is the leader of the Sadrist Movement and had served on many political councils in Iraq.  He had issued a warning to ISIS in June, 2014, saying he and his forces would, “shake the ground under the feet of ignorance and extremism,” according to NBC News.

Shia militias in Iraq are not a new thing as they fought American forces in Iraq when America invaded the country in 2003.  However, now these militiamen seem to be aligning themselves with Western forces in the area to fight the threat of ISIS.

Support from Iran against ISIS should come as no surprise given Iran follows the Shia sect of Islam, while ISIS follows the Sunni sect which views Shia Islam as heretical.

President and Vice President warn ISIS militants after beheading videos

After videos were released by ISIS depicting the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden made warnings of U.S. retaliation against the terrorist organization.

Early Wednesday, President Obama made his most powerful statement to date on the growing threat of ISIS, saying the U.S. will eliminate the organization and its followers.

“Our objective is clear and that is to degrade and destroy ISIL so it’s no longer a threat—not just to Iraq but also to the region and to the United States,” Obama said, according to MSNBC.

From there, President Obama laid out a plan to use coordinated airstrikes and ground efforts with regional cooperation to defeat ISIS in the Middle-East.  However, President Obama is currently only planning on confronting ISIS in Iraq and not Syria, saying he would have to consult Congress and gain Congressional approval of any military actions in Syria.

When the president was asked by a reporter to elaborate on his plan, President Obama backtracked, saying, according to the DailyMail, “Our objective is to make sure they aren’t an ongoing threat to the region.”

Vice President Joe Biden, though, made some heated remarks concerning ISIS though as compared to that of President Obama.

“We will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice because hell is where they will reside,” said Biden at a press conference at a naval shipyard in Portsmouth, New Hampshire Wednesday afternoon, according to the International Business Times.   “If they think the American people will be intimidated, they don’t know us very well.”

Vice President Biden continued by saying, according to NBC News, the American people are “so much stronger, so much more resolved,” than any enemy can comprehend, and the American people “don’t retreat,” and “don’t forget.”

ISIS has released a second video, supposedly showing the beheading of another American journalist

Following through with a threat made two weeks ago after the beheading of American journalist James Foley, ISIS has reportedly beheaded a second American journalist covering Iraq and Syria.

Steven Sotloff is the second American journalist to be executed publicly by ISIS after the group has demanded American airstrikes against the terror group and their controlled lands to cease.  ISIS released a video of the beheading, similar to that of the video showing the execution of James Foley, but the video is currently being analyzed for authenticity.

Sotloff, 31, was a graduate of the University of Central Florida and wrote for TIME as well as other publications.  According to NBC News, he went missing in Syria in August 2013.

This news comes one week after Sotloff’s mother, Shirley Sotloff, released her own video pleading to ISIS for the release of her son from captivity.  “I want what every mother wants,”  she said in the video, “to live to see her children’s children. I plead with you to grant me this.”

The video from ISIS reportedly shows Sotloff, dressed in an orange jumpsuit similar to the one Foley had worn, while a man in a black mask says, according to the Guardian, “I’m back,” signalling this may be the same masked man who had executed Foley.

After the execution of Sotloff, the video ends with the killer demanding an end to the American airstrikes, while showing another kneeling hostage.  Some sources are reporting this other hostage is a British citizen named David Cawthorne Haines.

President Obama said after the beheading of Foley that he and his administration were appalled by the video, while also saying the violence “shocks the conscience.”  According to the Hill, Obama also said, “We will be vigilant and we will be relentless.  When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what is necessary to make sure justice is done.”

Weekend air strikes in Iraq were authorized by president

After saying he had no strategy yet as to how to handle ISIS in Iraq, President Obama sent a letter to Congress Monday saying he had authorized a series of air strikes in Iraq over the weekend.

The air strikes were reportedly part of an effort to break the two-month siege of the northern-Iraqi town of Amerli, which has a predominantly Shi’ite inhabitants.  Along with the air strikes, humanitarian aid was airdropped in to the trapped residents in order to help the militias fight ISIS forces.

According to the War Powers Resolution, the president has to notify Congress of any use of military force against foreign combatants, such as this.

However, this is the third letter sent to Congress by the president outlining the reason for using air strikes in Iraq.

The first letter was sent earlier in August saying air strikes would be used to protect U.S. officials in Erbil, the Kurdish regional capitol, according to the Hill.  The same letter outlined how the airstrikes would also be used to protect Yazidi civilians who have been threatened by ISIS.

A second letter was sent saying air strikes would be used to help Iraqi forces recapture the ISIS controlled dam at Mosul.

“This operation is consistent with the military missions we have outlined to date in Iraq- to protect U.S. personnel and facilities and to address the humanitarian situation on the ground,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, according to the Raw Story.

Fort Hood shooter writes to ISIS, wants to become ‘citizen’

Nadal Hasan, the former Army psychiatrist responsible for the shooting at Fort Hood resulting in the death of 13 people, has written a letter to ISIS from prison, asking to become a citizen of the Islamic State’s caliphate.

The letter is two pages long, according to CNN, and addressed to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS and the self-proclaimed caliph, i.e. religious ruler, over ISIS controlled areas of Iraq and Syria.  The letter is then signed by Hasan alongside the abbreviation SoA which stands for “Soldier of Allah.”

“I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State,” wrote Hasan, according to FOX News.  “It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don’t compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers.”

Hasan was born in America and raised as a Muslim.  He was sentenced to death by a military court for the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009.  Along with the 13 who were killed at Fort Hood, over 30 others were injured during the attack.  According to the Hill, Hasan is currently on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Hasan is not the first American to be drawn to ISIS.  Douglas McCain of Minnesota was reportedly killed fighting for the terror group earlier this week.  The Obama administration has said they believe at least 100 Americans have joined and are currently fighting for ISIS.

More British Muslims Fighting for ISIS Than Britain

Let this sink in for a minute: there are now more than twice as many British Muslims fighting for Islamic State than there are serving in the British armed forces.

That terrifying fact was reported by Newsweek and USA Today. According to British Member of Parliament Khalid Mahmood, at least 1,500 young British Muslims have been recruited by extremists in Iraq and Syria over the last three years.
“If you look across the whole of the country, and the various communities involved, 500 going over each year would be a conservative estimate,” Mahmood told Newsweek.

The Ministry of Defense reported only around 600 British Muslims currently serving in the Armed Forces, making up approximately around 0.4% of total personnel. 4.3% of the British population are Muslim.

The terrorist who beheaded American journalist James Foley in a video released this week spoke with a British accent. The problem of British jihadists is apparently not a new one.

“This is something we have been tracking and dealing with for many, many months and I don’t think this video changes anything,” United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told USA Today. “It just heightens awareness of a situation which is very grave.”

More than 100 Americans have joined the jihad in Syria to fight alongside Sunni terrorists according to U.S. Intelligence

 

C-Span’s Washington Journal Interviews Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

C-Span’s Washington Journal invited Richard Gage to talk about his group, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.

The group questions the official reports regarding the collapse of building 7 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology or (NIST). The lead investigator of NIST, Shyam Sunder said,  “WTC 7 collapsed because of fires fueled by office furnishings. It did not collapse from explosives or from diesel fuel fires.”

According to the host, C-Span decided to devote an entire segment to the collapse of building 7 because they received so many callers commenting on the topic regardless of the segment.

Last year investigative journalist Ben Swann spoke with Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth in the video below:

Fighting in Israel closes down US embassy in area

Recent violence in the Gaza Strip between Israeli forces and Hamas militants, who are in control of Gaza, have resulted in the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to close down for Thursday.

The embassy website, which posted the closing,  cites the “current security situation” as their reason for closing, but also says, “emergency cases will be considered on a case by case basis.”

Due to the rocket firing over the past few days, the embassy has operated at minimum staffing levels in order to keep staff members safe.  One rocket reportedly hit a house in Jerusalem, resulting in an explosion but no casualties.

Over 300 rockets have been fired into Israel since the attacks began two days ago, but these attacks have resulted in no fatalities or serious injuries according to Businessweek.  Storefronts, groceries, and bakeries have been hit and various buildings have been damaged.

Many of the rockets have been pointed in the direction of Dimona which is thought to house an Israeli nuclear facility.  The Israeli government has not confirmed or denied these reports.

The Israeli Defense Forces have launched a full-fledged military operation in order to stop further attacks from Hamas militants on Israel.

As compared to the 300 ineffective rockets fired into Israel, the IDF has struck almost 600 of their intended targets in the Gaza Strip.  These targets have included rocket launchers, tunnels used by Hamas militants, command centers, and training camps.

According to RT, Israel’s strikes have also resulted in the deaths of at least 22 people, including eight children.

Since the attacks began, Israel has been mobilizing about 40,000 military reservists in preparation for a further push to take back the Gaza Strip from Hamas.

“Despite the fact it will be hard, complicated and costly,” Israeli intelligence minister,Yuval Steinitz, told Israel Radio, “we will have to take over Gaza temporarily, for a few weeks, to cut off the strengthening of this terror army.”

Latest Snowden leak claims most information gathered “useless”

The most recent batch of leaked files from Edward Snowden shows the NSA has collected data on far more ordinary citizens, American and non-American alike, than those the NSA would consider dangerous.

Of all the files retained, The Washington Post describes the majority of them as being “useless by the analysts,” and telling stories of “love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes.”

A majority of the collected files, some 65,000, were “minimized” to protect the identities of citizens, but some 900 email addresses were left unchanged and could be used to identify citizens.

This same article from The Post continues by describing one way the NSA has violated the rights of all American citizens.  The NSA collected, as the article says, “medical records,” which under the Health Information Privacy and Security Act of 2007, are protected as private information and require any entity which houses, uses, or accesses private medical information to notify the citizen of whom the medical information refers.

One disturbing fact gathered from the leak shows the NSA analysts need only to have a “reasonable belief” the person they are collecting data from is foreign.  This means if an email or chat is in a language other than English, the analyst can begin to collect their data.

One analyst even claims data collection would not just take place on the person writing in the foreign language, but on those including in the original targets “buddy list” as it was assumed they were foreign nationals also.

Collection on such a mass scale also offers a view into how the FISA Amendments changed data collection methods.  These amendments gave the NSA authorization to collect data on all but four foreign countries in the world, which civil liberties groups claim to be far-retching.

Newly released FBI files on 9/11 Florida investigation reveal an “antagonist” from Jerusalem – Who is the government trying to protect?

 

 

Thanks to the tireless effort of watchdog organization the Broward Bulldog and its Freedom of Information Act suit against the government, more information is being released about the Sarasota Saudis who moved suddenly out of their home, leaving behind clothing, jewelry and cars, about two weeks before the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Benswann.com has followed this story for months now and on Monday, the FBI released 11 heavily censored pages, which also include information on an “antagonist” to the United States.

From an FBI report dated April 2002:

It says the Tampa FBI office “has determined that (blank) is an antagonist of the United States of America. (Blank) resides in Jerusalem. (Blank) allegedly has held regular and recurring meetings at his residence to denounce and criticize the United States of America and its policies. (Blank) is allegedly an international businessman with great wealth.”

In November 2001, (blank) visited the United States for the first time. He traveled to Sarasota, Florida, opened a bank account and made initial queries into the purchase of property in south central Florida. (Blank) intends to establish a Muslim compound in Central Florida. (Blank) revealed that (blank) is fearful of (blank) and fears that (blank) intends to begin offensive operations against the United States if he is able to purchase property and establish a Muslim compound in Central Florida.”

Unfortunately, those blanks won’t be uncensored until 2039, which makes you wonder who the government is trying to protect?

The Broward Bulldog sued in 2012 after being denied access to the FBI’s file on a once-secret investigation focusing on the Sarasota Saudis — Abdulaziz al-Hijji, his wife, Anoud, and her father  Esam Ghazzawi, an advisor to a Saudi prince.

The pages reveal  that the al-Hijjis had departed the U.S. in haste shortly before 9/11 and that “further investigation” had “revealed many connections” between them and persons associated with “attacks on 9/11/2001.” Even though, publicly the FBI has denied any connection.

Another interesting part of the documents include this story, which took place around Halloween, 2001:

Deputies were called after a man with a Tunisian passport was observed disposing of items in a dumpster behind a storage facility he had rented in Bradenton.

The man’s name is blanked out, but the report says authorities who searched the dumpster found “a self-printed manual on terrorism and Jihad, a map of the inside of an unnamed airport, a rudimentary last will and testament, a weight to fuel ratio calculation for a Cessna 172 aircraft, flight training information from the Flight Training Center in Venice [Fla.] and printed maps of Publix shopping centers in Tampa Bay.”

The Flight Training Center is where 9/11 hijack pilot Ziad Jarrah, who was at the controls of United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed in Shanksville, Pa, took flying lessons.

Read the documents here. The documents were located via court-ordered text searches using the names of the al-Hijjis and Ghazzawi. U.S. District Judge William J. Zloch is currently reviewing more than 80,000 pages of 9/11 records.

Miami First Amendment attorney Thomas Julin represents BrowardBulldog.org and said:

“This release suggests that the FBI has covered up information that is vitally important to public safety. It’s startling that after initially denying they had any documents they continue to find new documents as the weeks and months roll by. Each new batch suggests there are many, many more documents.”

So who is this U.S. antagonist and international businessman? Why is the FBI trying to protect him? Why are there no elected officials demanding answers regarding this case as it could affect future foreign relations?

 

Follow Joshua Cook on Facebook and Twitter.

ISIS Announces New State in Iraq, Syria; Names Leader Caliph

This article was written by guest contributor Jason Ditz.

Reflecting its virtually uncontested control over a broad swath of land in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has announced the formation of a new nation, dubbed simply The Islamic State (TIS).

According to the announcement, TIS has been determined by Shura councils to be the “restoration of the Caliphate,” and ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been declared the Caliph.

While TIS has been a de facto state for quite some time, albeit one with ill-defined borders engaged in multiple wars, the declaration of themselves as the new Caliphate is likely to fuel controversy around the world, and a direct challenge to Islamist factions.

That’s because a Caliphate claims to be the direct successor of the Prophet Muhammad, and its Caliph would at least claim to be the consensus final religious authority for all of Sunni Islam.

Caliphates have a long history across the Middle East, with dominant Caliphates ruling significant territory and wielding broad influence through much of history. For centuries, Ottoman sultans also held the position of Caliph. In 1924, Turkey dissolved the institution of Caliphate, and there has been no consensus Caliph since. In recent decades several Islamist factions have called for the restoration of the Caliphate, though naturally each has envisioned itself at the head, and none has gained anywhere near this much traction.

With the declaration, ISIS is making an enormous power play, aiming to put itself formally in command of all “faithful” Sunnis on a religious level. While that’s unlikely to matter across the broader Sunni world, except as a slap in the face, among Salafist factions like al-Qaeda this is a direct challenge, and a call for al-Qaeda and other such factions to submit to a position under Baghdadi’s rule.

 

This article is from Antiwar.com.  A friend in need is a friend indeed – and we need your help to fight this brazen state repression. We’re fighting to restore constitutional government in America – but we need your tax-deductible donation to do it. Please, make your contribution today!”

Secret drone kill memo released

The memo used to justify the legal killing of American citizens on foreign soil by drone strikes has finally been released Monday by the Department of Justice after months of legal wrangling and pressure from the ACLU and New York Times.

The legal request for the memo came about after the 2011 deaths of three U.S. citizens in Yemen by drone strikes.

Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were killed in September 2011 while al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman, was killed in October of the same year.  All three of those killed were naturalized U.S. citizens or born as such, as stated by the memo, but were also suspected of aiding al-Qaeda.

The Authorization to Use Military Force law, signed days after Sept. 11, 2001, is used largely in defense of the killing of the three without a trial.

The memo states, “the [2001 AUMF] authorizes the military detention of a U.S. citizen captured abroad who is part of an armed force within the scope of the AUMF, it also authorizes the use of ‘necessary and appropriate’ lethal force against a U.S. citizen who has joined such an armed force.”

Therefore, the government seems to believe the status of a person as an enemy combatant supersedes any previously held status by the individual as an American citizen, according to the precedents set within the memo.

Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU, told the Washington Post, “The release of this memo represents an overdue but nonetheless crucial step towards transparency.”

The most outspoken members of Congress with regards to civil liberties, Democratic senators Ron Wyden of Oregon, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, have come out in support of the killing of the three however.

“The decision to use lethal force against Anwar al-Alwaki,” wrote the three in a letter according to MSNBC, “was a legitimate use of authority granted to the president.”

Largest Iraqi oil refinery under ISIS control

The largest oil refinery in Iraq, located in the city of Baiji, an estimated 155 miles north of Baghdad, is under “75% control” by ISIL fighters.

The Baiji refinery went under siege last night and the complex was hit by mortar fire which started a few fires.  The battle and subsequent siege lasted until early this morning when militants claimed most of the refinery.

An unnamed source told Reuters the militants had managed to break into the refinery and take control of over 75% of the complex including, “production units, administration building and four watchtowers.”

This refinery in particular is responsible for more than a quarter of Iraq’s oil production, nearly all of which goes towards foreign consumption and exportation.

TIME is reporting that since this refinery is responsible for so much of the country’s oil exports, there are risks of “long lines at gas pump and electricity shortages…”  This could also spell higher gas prices at pumps around the world.

The town of Baiji was taken last week by ISIS militants, and the oil refinery sent all foreign nationals working in the complex to their respective countries while local workers stayed behind.

This is the latest of many business operations to be captured by ISIS militants, who have been using oil businesses, namely in Syria, to boost the organization’s profits.

ISIL tightens grip on Iraq

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the terrorist group disavowed by al-Qaeda and is responsible for the recent state of turmoil in the Middle East, has captured the city of Tal Afar and made claims of mass execution over the weekend.

The city of Tal Afar is close to the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was captured last week along with the arms depots within the city.  According to the NBC News, the same weapons captured in Mosul, mostly rocket launchers and machineguns, were used in the seizure of Tal Afar.

Capturing the city is a strategic move by ISIL who also have captured cities in Syria.  Tal Afar is only 93 miles from the Syrian border, making it an opportune route to connect ISIL forces and supplies across the northern parts of the two countries.

ISIL also released photos this past weekend of their members executing hundreds of captured Iraqi soldiers and civilians.  According to RT, the photos were posted to the Twitter account associated with ISIL, and a spokesman for the group claimed the pictures and killings took place just north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

The group has had their sights set on attacking Baghdad, which has prompted the U.S. to strengthen the security of the embassy in the city.  About 150 U.S. Marines arrived at the embassy to protect U.S. citizens and diplomats.  The embassy itself though will stay open, said the U.S. State Department, but some of the staff will be relocated temporarily.

This comes a few days after planeloads of other American diplomats were evacuated from the Iraqi airbase of Balad, another city just north of Baghdad.

British officials in Baghdad said they have no intention to evacuate their staff from what is designated the “Green Zone” in the city, but they claimed to have witnessed large groups of individuals lining up at the main airport while many others withdrew money from local banks.

The U.S. is considering talks with Iran in the coming days to cooperate in combating ISIL in Iraq.  Iran has already sent their Revolutionary Guard to combat ISIL forces, while the U.S. government is considering sending drones and other air support to aid the Iranian fighters.

Five Americans killed in friendly fire incident

U.S. defense officials are saying five American NATO service members were killed Monday by what is thought to be friendly-fire in southern Afghanistan.

Five servicemen were reported to have been killed by an airstrike they had called in themselves while fighting Taliban insurgents in the Zabul province of Afghanistan.  A helicopter responded to the call and opened fire on the American soldiers the crew had mistaken as the targets.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousof Ahmadi has also claimed when Taliban insurgents engaged with the coalition forces, an assault helicopter had mistaken coalition forces as Taliban members, opening fire on them.

“We had launched a clearance operation in an area with a high security threat,” Zabul police chief, General Ghulam Sakhi, whose security forces have been working with NATO, said.  “When it was over and we were returning to base, the enemy opened fire and [the U.S. troops] asked for air support. The helicopters made a mistake and targeted their own people.”

Attacks from insurgent groups have increased in the country ahead of presidential runoff elections to be held this Saturday.  According to CBS News, officials are worried more violent attacks could be on the way until the elections are over.

The majority of U.S. forces station in Afghanistan are no longer involved in direct conflicts in the country, but when U.S. forces are involved, usually they are Special Operation Forces.  It is not uncommon for these Special Operation Forces to call in air support when under extreme pressure from attackers.

This incident has brought the total number of service members killed in Afghanistan to 36 for this year.

51 Killed as al-Qaeda Fights al-Qaeda on Syria-Iraq Border

This article was written by guest contributor Jason Ditz.

Major fighting erupted in the oil-rich city of Bukamal, in Syria’s Deir Ezzor Province, as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) attempted to wrest control from its rival al-Qaeda faction, Jabhat al-Nusra.

The city is doubly valuable for rebel factions, as it is both a source of oil revenue for its occupier and has a border with Iraq’s Anbar Province, a particularly big incentive for AQI, which presently controls much of Anbar as well.

At least 51 people have been reported killed so far as AQI has gained considerable ground. Nusra fighters have reportedly requested reinforcements in an attempt to keep the city.

AQI and Jabhat al-Nusra have been openly warring for months, since al-Qaeda’s parent organization disavowed AQI as too brutal for their taste, and endorsed Nusra as their official Syria affiliate. Despite losing their imprimatur, AQI has continued to control much more territory and seems to be the stronger of the two factions.

 

 

This article is from Antiwar.com.  A friend in need is a friend indeed – and we need your help to fight this brazen state repression. We’re fighting to restore constitutional government in America – but we need your tax-deductible donation to do it. Please, make your contribution today!”