Joint Chiefs chairman: ‘We have not contained’ ISIS


The United States has “not contained” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the nation’s top military officer said Tuesday, contradicting President Obama’s remarks last month about the terror group.

“We have not contained” ISIS, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

The comment runs counter to what the president said days before ISIS launched a string of attacks across Paris.
“I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them,” Obama told ABC News.

Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, later said the president’s remarks applied specifically to Iraq and Syria.

Dunford said ISIS has been “tactically” contained in areas they have been since 2010 but added, “Strategically they have spread since 2010.”

His remarks were in response to questioning by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) on whether ISIS has been contained at any time since 2010.

Dunford added that ISIS posed a threat beyond Iraq and Syria to countries such as Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Jordan.

Forbes also got Dunford to disagree with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who testified alongside him.

Carter had declared during his opening statement that “we’re at war” with ISIS.

Forbes pressed Dunford whether the U.S. was at war with ISIS, and who declared that war.

“We are technically not at war,” Dunford replied.

An academic report released Tuesday said that American support for radical Islamism has reached “unprecedented” levels.

“What we do see in the United States is an unprecedented mobilization” that is “bigger than any other mobilization we have seen since 9/11,” Lorenzo Vidino, the director of George Washington University’s program on extremism, said during an event releasing the report.

The report found that the types of Americans drawn to ISIS vary widely in terms of race, age, education and family background. Yet they are largely all united by their use of social media, which ISIS has been able to master as its reach has grown.

FBI Director James Comey has said that federal officials have launched ISIS-related investigations in all 50 states.

Obama, who is in Paris for talks on an international climate change agreement, has also used the trip to meet with world leaders about the threat from ISIS.

– Updated at 1:57 p.m.

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No terrorist group can survive unless some govt finances it – terror economy expert

RT Dec 15, 2014“>

In many ways terrorism works just like a business, and a costly one – the organization needs arms, supplies, and each recruit needs to be fed and equipped; it all costs money.

But where do terrorists get their money?

How are the atrocities financed?

Is jihad even possible when you have no-one to back it with a hefty sum? And can a terror group become independent?

Sophie Shevarnadze:  Loretta Napoleoni, economist, author, expert on the financing of terrorism, I’ve heard you speak in one of your speeches, you’ve said a parallel economic system exists today, and you called it “the economy of terror”. You said it’s worth $1.5 trln – and that was before 9/11. So, I’m just wondering, how big is this terror economy today.

Loretta Napoleoni:It’s about, I would say, 5% bigger than it was before 9/11. But of course, distribution of the money is completely different. There is much more activity in the muslim world that there was before, most of the money moves in cash from place to place, when before it moved through normal international banking system. So there are few changes that have taken place.

SS: Okay, we’re going to go through those changes in details in just a bit, but I’m just trying to understand a bigger picture at this point – apart from drugs and arms sales, diamond smuggling as well, does terror invest in normal business enterprises?

LN: Yes. About one third of this economy is actually linked to the legitimate economy. So, they do business with each other. I’ll give you an example – what is happening now in Iraq in the wheat industry. The Islamic State controls about 40% of the production of wheat in Iraq. The government buys all the wheat and controls price of wheat because it is very important to keep it under certain level. So, they actually bought the wheat from the regions controlled by Islamic State. This is a good example of how a legitimate government actually does business with terrorist organization.

SS: We’re going to speak just in a bit about how government funding and terrorism are inter-related, but I want to give you another example before that. I spoke not long ago with HSBC whistleblower, who uncovered widespread money-laundering practices that in the end were used to fund terrorist organizations – maybe you even heard the story, because it was huge in the press. Now, do businessmen who deal with this cash not care where it is coming from?

LN: Oh, absolutely. I think we are in a sort of contraction of the world’s economy, most countries are in recession, some countries are actually heading for a deflation. If somebody comes and gives you an opportunity to do an investment in cash – you’re not going to ask where the money comes from. So, the cash economy actually has increased tremendously since 2008, and I would say that the black market economy also has increased tremendously since 2008.

SS: You’ve also said that after the Patriot Act the business funded from terror activities moved from the U.S. to Europe, basically from dollar to euro. What exactly does that mean? And where do terror groups hide and keep their money at this point?

LN: What’s happened after 9/11, the introduction of the Patriot Act which makes every single transaction in U.S. dollars monitored by the U.S. authorities – so all of a sudden, people that did not want the U.S. authorities to know how much money they had or what they were doing with that money – not necessarily people that were funding terrorists organization – they decided to move out of the U.S. dollar into the euro. That explains why the euro has appreciated tremendously from 2001 up to 2005, and then of course we had the crisis of 2007-8 which hit both dollar and euro. Today, I would say that very little of the terrorist financing is taking place within the euro area or even the dollar area, the traditional dollar area. Everything is in cash and is outside, absolutely outside the international banking system. So we don’t know how to trace it.

SS: When you say that sometimes taxpayers unknowingly fund terrorism – what exactly do you mean? Could I be sponsoring terrorism? Or can you give a precise example of what that means?

LN: Well, one of the examples that I used in one of my books is what happened Northern Ireland during the time of IRA. The IRA controlled every single transportation system, which was private, privately-owned; so each time you went into a taxi, without knowing you were actually funding the IRA. Another example could be taxpayers in countries that are bankrolling armed organisations. For example, in the U.S. today we have an involvement, and even in Europe we have an involvement with certain groups who are fighting the Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq – so money are going in that direction to buy weapons, or to help them in their effort to fight the Islamic State. Some of these groups, for example the PKK, is still considered a terrorist organization, by the U.S. and also by Turkey. There is this kind of really surreal situation taking place, because the war has changed tremendously since the end of the cold war.

SS: But if you take a terror group – any terror group – at this point, what would you say is the number one problem for it? Finding cash or the ideology? What is it that they care for the most?

LN: Finding cash is the number one priority, because without the money you can’t do anything. The ideology is always in the background. The ideology is important for recruitment – again, the Islamic State is a very good example of the ideology which is very modern, very pragmatic approach to state building. It’s attracting people from everywhere – but it is not what is keeping the business of terrorism, the business of fighting in order to conquer territories. What is keeping this business is actually the economic production, the GDP let’s call it, of the area – which is controlled by this organization.

SS: What I am asking is that the money that they are raising, the cash that they are raising – is it for business purposes, or is it really to keep the ideology going?

LN: Oh it’s for business purposes. The way the ideology is maintained is actually through the running of the state. For example, we have Islamic courts where people can go and bring their own complaints, we have administration, a bureaucracy which people can use in order to carry on their businesses. This people, they are doing businesses and paying taxes, and this money goes to the Islamic State. So, it is run very much like a normal state. This is where the money is coming from. At the same time, by doing this service for the people under the umbrella of Salafism, under the umbrella of Islam, they are actually maintaining the ideology.

SS: But could that be said about everyone? Because I just spoke with a journalist who embedded himself with Islamist militants in Syria, and he didn’t talk about running around raising cash – he talked about a bunch of people, rank and file, looking to establish Islamic law and he seemed pretty genuine by that.

LN: Yes. I think the people that are joining this organization today, they are not joining this organization because they want to make money. We’re not talking about mercenaries at all. We’re actually talking about people that are lured into joining, who are seduced – we are talking about true seduction, because you’re young, you are living in the West, you’re muslim, you don’t belong anywhere, and then all of a sudden the message comes from the Islamic state and says “come and help us build the new state, come and help us implement the muslim political utopia” – something that for generations, for centuries, the muslims have tried to establish and they have always failed, so these people are not motivated by money, this people are actually motivated by ideology. But in order to get to this level, the Islamic State had to build itself and it did it through finance.

SS: What about the state sponsorship? For instance, the Taliban have been supported by Pakistan, and contras in Nicaragua have been supported by the U.S. Gulf states’ money is going to Syria, Iran is friends with Hezbollah – so can terrorism really exist without state sponsorship?

LN: Very difficult to exist without state sponsorship. Generally what happens is that an armed organisation is bankrolled by a state or very wealthy organization or individual. In the case of Mujahedin we know that the CIA was involved but so was Saudi Arabia – so you can have more than one sponsor. Then, once the group has established itself, if it is good enough, it can actually privatize the business of terrorism, to find a way to fund itself. This is exactly what happened to Islamic State. From 2011 to 2013 it was bankrolled by various countries, for example Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar – and then, once it has established itself in the region, it wanted to control and privatize the business of terrorism, so it started running strategic resources together with a lot of population and it didn’t need the money anymore. And this is when the terrorist organization can actually act independently and do whatever it wants.

SS: I’m just wondering if it’s possible to pinpoint who is funding…for instance, Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Qatar are often accused of funding terrorists. However, it’s mostly private funds – is it even possible to trace those, or it is even fair to blame governments at all, if it is private funds?

LN: In the past we did… for example the Iran contra affairs, we could have traced the money very easily, and the decision to fund the contras through the sale of arms to Iran was taken by the White House. So, we’re talking about 1980s, the Reagan Administration. Today it is very difficult to trace the money because this money is moving in cash from Saudi Arabia to whoever the Islamic State was active with in 2011-2012. So, tracing the money in cash is almost impossible. In the past, it was easier because cash was not used so much.

SS: So, I’m trying to figure out how to get more money if you’re terrorist? How important is notoriety of the group? For example, for getting donations for individuals? Do you have to be more vicious, or evil than the other, to get attention so that the rich individuals in Gulf States start sending their cash to you?

LN: Of course, the more famous you are, the more money you attract. I don’t think you need necessarily to be more vicious or more brutal. I think you have to be more efficient – and this is what has happened with the Islamic State. Their strategy is very interesting, because instead of attacking the army of Assad, the army of Damascus, what they did was actually attacking other jihadist groups – that gave them a sort of notoriety within the jihadist movement, because they looked the strongest, the better organised, the biggest, so everybody wanted to join them, people wanted to move from one group to another. The sponsors thought “oh, this is a really good group, this is a better group than the others, so let’s send them money”, and then there is another aspect of notoriety, which is of course through the internet. This organisation was so popular on the internet, because they were so successful they started to get money from all over the world from sympathizers and supporters.

SS: When left-wing terror was in fashion in 70s, groups from different countries actually were linked, from Ireland to West Germany, to Palestine and Japan – what about now? Because it does seem terror groups compete with each other, like companies. Is that the case? We witnessed a rift between Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Are the now, what, like rivals on the market?

LN: Yeah. Absolutely. I think the situation is completely different from the 1970s, because of course we don’t have a Cold War anymore, so in the 1970s we had all the Marxist organisations – the Red Brigades, for example, the PLO, even the ETA, the IRA – which were fighting against sort of imperialism in the West. These were all linked with each other, they helped each other, they bought weapons together, for example, in order to pay less. Today we have a different situation because today we have profound rivalry within the jihadist movement. Again, this is a product of society today. Everything is multipolar, so everybody is out for himself, including terrorist organisations. Al-Qaeda has always been quite negative vis-a-vis the Islamic State, and even the origins of Islamic State – let’s not forget that this is a group that traces its origins to 2003 Al-Zarqawi group, which was not welcome at all by Al-Qaeda because of the different strategies and policy. But, I would say that today the Islamic State has completely defeated Al-Qaeda in this sort of list of the most important jihadist organisation. I mean, if you’re young today, and you want to join the fight, you don’t go to Al-Qaeda, you go to the Islamic State.

SS: It just also seems that there is sort of a rebranding going on, from Al-Qaeda in Iraq to ISIL, to ISIS, to the Islamic State – is that part of the marketing strategy? Is all this rebranding part of business strategy as well?

LN: Yes. That’s really-really important. The rebranding is fundamental. Initially, in 2010 when Al-Baghdadi became the leader of what was called “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” he immediately changed the name going back to the original name, which was “the Islamic State in Iraq”. He did it because he wanted to get distanced from Al-Qaeda which was extremely unpopular in the Sunni area of Iraq, and the same I would say for Syria. So, the fact that they rebranded themselves gave them a new identity. Then, when they merged with Al-Nusra which was the sort of Al-Qaeda organisation, linked to Al-Qaeda anyway in Syria, there was another rebranding, and the name has changed to “the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham”, which is of course the Arab name for Syria. Again, they distanced from Al-Qaeda. And then, finally, the last rebranding, which I think is the final one, is “the Islamic State”, which is the same name of the original caliphate created by the Prophet in the VII century. Now, they are a state, and it’s the Islamic State. It’s very simple branding, very-very strong and very efficient.

SS: So when ISIS comes up with flashy PR campaigns to infamous “ISIS cats” on Twitter, for instance, and they also have really well-produced videos, they are basically fishing for money and recruits, right?

LN: Yes, they’re fishing for money, they’re fishing for recruits, they are also using the media to terrorise – let’s not forget that what terrorist does is scare you, because if you’re scared, then you don’t act rationally, and therefore you think your enemy is much stronger. They are using social media to do that. This is why we see all this executions, barbaric, brutal beheadings on social media, because that scares us.

SS: Newsweek did an investigation last month, and it said that Islamic State earns up to 2.5 million dollars in oil revenues, oil sales, daily. Who is buying that oil? I asked several experts, but nobody has been able a concrete answer. Is that oil impossible to trace as well?

LN: No, we can trace it, we know exactly where the oil is going. The oil goes either to Turkey, or it goes south, to southern Syria. It is sold in small lots, we’re not talking about pipelines or anything like that, but it is true that the revenues are about 2- 2.5. million per day, depending of course, on how easy it is to smuggle it. It is bought by local people that then resell it in small lots and quantities. Again, it is impossible to stop that kind of smuggling, because we don’t control the territory. Now you may say “Turkey does control its border”, but the border between Syria, Iraq and Turkey is very-very big border, and most of the smuggling takes place on water, so it takes place on the river. It’s very difficult to trace it. Regarding the south, again, it’s very difficult, again, because the territory is not controlled by a true authority. We are in a state of political anarchy in certain regions, so how can you trace it? How can you stop it?

SS: Now, you’ve said that ISIS is the new model for nation-building, you’ve mentioned that it controls 40% of the wheat production revenues. ISIS acts like a state. It has a monopoly on violence, it has its own economy. But according to news reports, locals can’t afford food or water or medicine or electricity, while the fighters – they live like kings. Can a terrorist organisation really build a functioning state? What do you think?

LN: According to my sources, actually, I do not believe that the fighters live like kings. I think that’s not true. Actually, they pay their fighters much less than Al-Qaeda or Taliban used to pay their own fighters. I think that we are watching something quite scary – a transition of an armed organisation into a true state. This transition is taking place by running this region as a true state – meaning we have administration, bureaucratic section of the caliphate, and then we have the military sector, the two things are separate, are run in different ways. People interact primarily with the administrative and bureaucratic part of the Islamic State. What they do is trying to fix the infrastructure, provide law and order, even vaccinate children against polio. So, they are trying to bring a certain kind of normality in region that has been plagued by war for a very long time, and they’re doing it because they seek consensus – they only way to complete this nation-building process is to achieve consensus, and this is what they are trying to do.

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THE HUMANITY PARTY: Vote Anonymous 2016 – The Solution For Humanity

Vote Anonymous 2016’s first objective is to give the people hope and educate them about the power of their vote. Anonymity offers a united and equal face to each and every person who legally registers to vote and then uses the write-in option to send a clear and powerful message to the balloted candidates. It is Vote Anonymous 2016’s intent to rally the people to show up at voting booths across the country and record a vote of ANONYMOUS.

The Humanity Party™ hopes that ANONYMOUS wins the majority of votes and sends a strong message to the political powers that control our lives. It is our intent to send a message to the governmental authorities that we demand drastic changes; and most importantly, that we provide the solutions and define the change that we desire.

This new constitution is only a proposal and a general outline of desired changes that can be incorporated into the current U.S. Constitution. According to current constitutional law, if enough THumP™ Representatives are elected to Congress, then they can legally rewrite the Constitution. THumP™’s proposed Constitution can act as a guideline and suggestions for the new Congress to work with in establishing a new Constitution.

Full Text of Proposed Constitution final_constitution_of_the_republic_of_america

Proposed Constitution With Notes final_notes-on-the-constitution

American reform movements have seldom been successful at registering a new party and appointing proper leadership to compete with the current and dominant Democratic and Republican parties.

Finding a person with integrity and courage to lead a new party is difficult. Appointed leaders of reform parties can easily be corrupted by power and greed.

The Humanity Party (“THumP™”) has no confirmed leaders.

It is led by the voice of each person who supports its platform. Properly supporting THumP™ consists of legally registering to vote and casting your vote by entering the word “ANONYMOUS” in the write-in option.

Rejecting all of the registered and approved candidates sends a message that we no longer accept the status quo of the current government and that we demand real change.

THumP™ does not appoint leaders nor accept donations—in an effort to protect our party’s intent and purpose by eliminating the possibility of corruption by Special Interest Groups, lobbyists, and corporate PACs (Political Action Committees).

THumP™ has not yet conformed to the expected process of registering a new political party according to current government policy and rules, but this does not prohibit us from accomplishing the purpose for which THumP™ was envisioned: to demand real change that works. If the people respond to our purpose, then by their majority voice we can properly designate our movement as a party in the current political arena. If our vision is embraced by enough people, we will legally register The Humanity Party as a U.S. political party.
THumP™’s Political Platform is defined herein. This Platform acts as the party’s official manifesto that encompasses our views and political points and ideals. This manifesto includes THumP™’s beliefs, but most importantly, their application to real life.
Humanity party line revolves around three basic inalienable human rights: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for all people to dissolve the political bands which have isolated and separated them from each other, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the united and equal station to which the Laws of Nature or of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to unite.”

Read Full Text of final_thump_declaration


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Ex-US Intelligence Chief on Islamic State’s Rise: ‘We Were Too Dumb’

Without the Iraq war, Islamic State wouldn’t exist today, former US special forces chief Mike Flynn openly admits. In an interview, he explains IS’ rise to become a professional force and how the Americans allowed its future leader to slip out of their hands.

Michael Flynn, 56, served in the United States Army for more than 30 years, most recently as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, where he was the nation’s highest-ranking military intelligence officer. Previously, he served as assistant director of national intelligence inside the Obama administration. From 2004 to 2007, he was stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, where, as commander of the US special forces, he hunted top al-Qaida terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, one of the predecessors to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who today heads the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. After Flynn’s team located Zarqawi’s whereabouts, the US killed the terrorist in an air strike in June 2006.

In an interview, Flynn explains the rise of the Islamic State and how the blinding emotions of 9/11 led the United States in the wrong direction strategically.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In recent weeks, Islamic State not only conducted the attacks in Paris, but also in Lebanon and against a Russian airplane over the Sinai Peninsula. What has caused the organization to shift its tactics and to now operate internationally?

Flynn: There were all kinds of strategic and tactical warnings and lots of reporting. And even the guys in the Islamic State said that they were going to attack overseas. I just don’t think people took them seriously. When I first heard about the recent attacks in Paris, I was like, “Oh, my God, these guys are at it again, and we’re not paying attention.” The change that I think we need to be more aware of is that, in Europe, there is a leadership structure. And there’s likely a leader or a leadership structure in each country in Europe. The same is probably similar for the United States, but just not obvious yet.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You mean something like an emir or regional leadership?

US General Mike Flynn: The Iraq war "was a huge error."Zoom


US General Mike Flynn: The Iraq war “was a huge error.”

Flynn: Exactly. In Osama bin Laden’s writings, he elaborated about being disperse, becoming more diffuse and operating in small elements, because it’s harder to detect and it’s easier to act. In Paris, there were eight guys. In Mali, there were 10. Next time, maybe one or two guys will be enough.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Can an attack of that scope even take place without being coordinated and authorized by the IS leadership in Syria?

Flynn: Absolutely. There’s not some line-and-block chart and a guy at the top like we have in our own systems. That’s the mirror imaging that we have to, in many ways, eliminate from our thinking. I can imagine a 30-year-old guy with some training and some discussion who receives the task from the top: “Go forth and do good on behalf of our ideology.” And then he picks the targets by himself, organizes his attackers and executes his mission.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Islamic State’s leader is the self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. What kind of leader is he?

Flynn: It’s really important to differentiate between the way Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri represent themselves when they come out in public and how al-Baghdadi represented himself when he declared the caliphate. Bin Laden and Zawahiri sit in their videos, legs crossed, flag behind them, and they’ve got an AK-47 in their laps. They are presenting themselves as warriors. Baghdadi brought himself to a mosque in Mosul and spoke from the balcony, like the pope, dressed in appropriate black garb. He stood there as a holy cleric and proclaimed the Islamic caliphate. That was a very, very symbolic act. It elevated the fight from this sort of military, tactical and localized conflict to that of a religious and global war.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What would change if al-Baghdadi were killed?

Flynn: We used to say, “We’ll just keep killing the leaders, and the next guy up is not going to be as good.” That didn’t work out that way because al-Baghdadi is better than Zarqawi, and Zarqawi was actually better than bin Laden.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: So killing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi wouldn’t change much?

Flynn: Not at all. He could be dead today, you haven’t seen him lately. I would have much preferred to have captured bin Laden and Zarqawi because as soon as you kill them, you are actually doing them and their movement a favor by making them martyrs. Zarqawi was a vicious animal. I would have preferred to see him live in a cell for the rest of his life. Their logic is still hard to understand for us in the West.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What differentiates al-Baghdadi from Zarqawi, who led al-Qaida in Iraq between 2003 and 2006?

Flynn: Zarqawi tried to bring in foreign fighters, but not in the way that al-Baghdadi has been able to do. At the peak of Zarqawi’s days, they may have been bringing in 150 a month from a dozen countries. Al-Baghdadi is bringing in 1,500 fighters a month, from more than 100 nations. He’s using the modern weapons of the information age in fundamentally different ways to strengthen the attraction of their ideology. The other thing is how they target. Zarqawi was absolutely brutal — he randomly killed guys lining up for jobs in downtown Baghdad. Al-Baghdadi is much smarter and more precise in his target selection, but still very vicious.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Who is running the military wing of the Islamic State?

Flynn: I think that al-Baghdadi or the current leader of the Islamic State is very hands-on when it comes to parts of the military, but it’s a very flat, networked organization. Inside Syria and Iraq in the Levant area, my belief is that he has a couple of subordinates who are responsible for military operations, logistical, financial, etc.; they represent a combination of Egyptians, Saudis, Chechens or a Dagestanis, Americans and Europeans. We know from debriefings that they have actually broken Raqqa down into international zones because of language barriers. They have put interpreters in place in those international zones in order to communicate and get their messages around. For example, the Australians alone have about 200 people. There’s even an Australian sector in Raqqa, and they’re tied into the other English speakers because not everybody shows up speaking Arabic. This requires a military-like structure with military-like leadership.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How does IS treat people who volunteer?

Flynn: They document everything. These guys are terrific about it. In their recruiting and in interviews, they ask “What’s your background? Are you good with media? With weapons?” It’s this kind of well-structured capability they have that then evolves into a very, very unconventional force.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How should the West fight this enemy?

Flynn: The sad fact is that we have to put troops on the ground. We won’t succeed against this enemy with air strikes alone. But a military solution is not the end all, be all. The overall strategy must be to take away Islamic State’s territory, then bring security and stability to facilitate the return of the refugees. This won’t be possible quickly. First, we need to hunt down and eliminate the complete leadership of IS, break apart their networks, stop their financing operations and stay until a sense of normality has been established. It’s certainly not a question of months — it will take years. Just look back at the mission we created in the Balkans as a model. We started there in the early 1990s to create some stability and we are still there today.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Is the Balkans mission a model for the current war?

Flynn: We can learn some lessons from the Balkans. Strategically, I envision a breakup of the Middle East crisis area into sectors in the way we did back then, with certain nations taking responsibility for these sectors. In addition, we would need a coalition military command structure and, on a political level, the United Nations must be involved. The United States could take one sector, Russia as well and the Europeans another one. The Arabs must be involved in that sort of military operation, as well, and must be part of every sector. With this model, you would have opportunities — Russia, for example, must use its influence on Iran to have Tehran back out of Syria and other proxy efforts in the region.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: For that to happen, the West would have to cooperate fully with the Russians.

Flynn: We have to work constructively with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there (in Syria) and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic. So you can’t say Russia is bad, they have to go home. It’s not going to happen. Get real. Look at what happened in the past few days: The president of France asked the US for help militarily (after the Paris attacks). That’s really weird to me, as an American. We should have been there first and offered support. Now he is flying to Moscow and asking Putin for help.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: A Western military intervention runs the risk of being seen as a new attempt to invade the region.

Flynn: That’s why we need the Arabs as partners, they must be the face of the mission — but, today, they are neither capable of conducting nor leading this type of operation, only the United States can do this. And we don’t want to invade or even own Syria. Our message must be that we want to help and that we will leave once the problems have been solved. The Arab nations must be on our side. And if we catch them financing, if they funnel money to IS, that’s when sanctions and other actions have to kick in.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: In February 2004, you already had Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in your hands — he was imprisoned in in a military camp, but got cleared later as harmless by a US military commission. How could that fatal mistake happen?

Flynn: We were too dumb. We didn’t understand who we had there at that moment. When 9/11 occurred, all the emotions took over, and our response was, “Where did those bastards come from? Let’s go kill them. Let’s go get them.” Instead of asking why they attacked us, we asked where they came from. Then we strategically marched in the wrong direction.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The US invaded Iraq even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.

Flynn: First we went to Afghanistan, where al-Qaida was based. Then we went into Iraq. Instead of asking ourselves why the phenomenon of terror occurred, we were looking for locations. This is a major lesson we must learn in order not to make the same mistakes again.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The Islamic State wouldn’t be where it is now without the fall of Baghdad. Do you regret …

Flynn: … yes, absolutely …

SPIEGEL ONLINE: … the Iraq war?

Flynn: It was huge error. As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him. The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.

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2015 Terrorism & Political Violence Risk Map – a guide

Terrorism and political violence present unique challenges to any company with a global footprint and understanding your human and commercial exposures is a key aspect of risk mitigation. Now in its fifth year, Aon’s Terrorism and Political Violence Map, continues to help clients to more closely consider and evaluate their exposures to these unique risks.
The findings underline the complexity of this risk and the breadth of
potential impacts – property damage, business interruption, casualty and
liability risk. Where organisations have concerns or would like to validate
their current terrorism strategy, we would encourage them to connect with their broker to discuss how their insurance strategy will respond to recent trends in terrorism as highlighted by the map- Neil Henderson

Terrorism, Kidnap & Ransom Team Leader
Key Findings
In 2015, we rated 21 countries at reduced risk and 13 at increased risk.
The global trend is therefore a net improvement in political violence risks
at a country by country level. This marks the second year in row where
the balance is more countries improving than deteriorating (in 2014, 56
countries were at reduced risk and only four at increased risk).
The less positive findings this year are largely due to increased terrorism
threats in the West and a more adverse geopolitical situation in Eastern
Europe, the Middle East and East Asia. More countries had conflict perils
added (11) than removed (5) and we added more perils for conflict than
any other risk type, reflecting an increasingly dangerous and uncertain
geopolitical environment. Six of the conflict additions were Former Soviet
Union countries.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the greatest number of high to severe risk
countries (16), although is also the largest region (42% of the region
rated high to severe risk, making is less risky overall than the Middle East,
South Asia and North Africa). Nearly 80% of all terrorist attacks in this
period occurred in just two countries – Nigeria and Somalia. Southern
Africa remains a cluster of low risk.
The removal of the civil unrest peril in 11 countries points to an improved
domestic stability situation in a variety of countries, reflecting some
positive trickle down risk effects of economic recovery.
Measured in terms of concentration of risk (regions with the highest
percentage of high or severe risk countries), the riskiest regions are in
order of greatest risk: South Asia, North Africa, Middle East, Sub-Saharan
Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Western Countries.
Western countries saw the greatest number of country risk rating
increases, mainly due to terrorism threats. Nine countries were rated at
increased risk, and none at decreased risk.
Latin America is the region with the most positive overall results, securing
reduced unrest risk and reduced terrorism risk ratings thanks to counter-
terrorism progress and moves to end long running conflicts in Colombia
and Peru, although ongoing socio-economic issues remain.
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Kurdish YPG Say They Will Target Turkish Warplanes In Breach of Rojava Airspace.


Kurdish YPG Say They Will Target Turkish Warplanes In Breach of Rojava Airspace. (KQ).

Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) threatened to target any plane that intend to breach its airspace in the Syrian Kurdish region. This comes after two foreign military helicopters, believed to be Turkish, were seen above the suburbs of Qamishli in northeastern Syria, military sources reported on Wednesday.

“Two unidentified military helicopters were seen Tuesday night in Qamishli’s northern suburbs, specifically in Alyan area, flying over the oil-rich town of Rumelan and the petroleum stations of Tel Adas (Gir Ziro) as well as the village of Gir Ziyaret,” the YPG’s official spokesman Redur Khalil said in a statement on Wednesday. “The helicopters headed north towards the Turkish territory.”

“We, the YPG forces, warn if this irresponsible action (Turkish breach of Syrian Kurdish airspace) were repeated, we will take the necessary procedures to target any violation of such type,” Khalil stressed.

Speaking to ARA News in Rumelan, an informed source said the Turkish helicopters were roaming in a range of 20 km along the borderline with Syria, adding “one of these helicopters breached the region’s airspace almost three kilometers above Derona Aghe village north of Chel Agha.”

“The Turkish border guards are mobilized on the Turkish side of the border since Tuesday as security cars have intensified their movements on the borderline, which has raised Kurdish concerns,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.

Khalil’s statement coincides with the Russian government’s announcement about a possible plan by Turkish authorities over downing its fighter jet near the Syrian border earlier on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Turkish attack on the Russian warplane earlier on Tuesday appeared to be “an ambush”, describing the Turkish action as a “planned provocation”.

Syrian opposition activists considered the statement of the YPG’s spokesman on Wednesday as a “veiled threat” to Turkey, especially the Turkish forces have repeatedly threatened to hit the Syrian Kurdish forces for its alleged links with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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ISIS is in Afghanistan, But Who Are They Really?


It’s only been a year-and-a-half since the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria seized one of Iraq’s largest cities and declared a caliphate in the swathes of territory it held in both countries. Since then, foreign fighters have flocked to join the conflict and ISIS’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has inspired pledges of allegiance from aspiring insurgents and breakaway factions of militant groups in countries such as Egypt, Yemen and Libya, as well as from well-established groups like Nigeria’s Boko Haram.

Now, it appears ISIS-allied fighters are gaining a foothold in Afghanistan as well. But who are they really? Do they take orders from ISIS’ leadership in Iraq and Syria? And could their ideology and grasp on territory spread like it did in Iraq and Syria? Here is what three experts had to say.

Who is “ISIS” in Afghanistan?

James Cunningham, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2012 until Dec. 2014, says he first heard rumors of ISIS in Afghanistan as his term was ending. “Just as I was getting ready to leave, there were rumors, but nothing very solid — expressions of concern that ISIS was starting to make contact with Afghans and Pakistanis, and trying to recruit people to come to the fight in Syria and Iraq.”

However, experts say that the entities that now call themselves ISIS in Afghanistan are not fighters from Iraq or Syria. Rather, they’re primarily disaffected Taliban members and insurgents from other groups who seized an opportunity to “rebrand” themselves as ISIS.

“It’s important to look at what we mean when we say ISIS,” says Anand Gopal, author of No Good Men Among the Living: America, The Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes, “because these were groups that were disgruntled and they essentially rebranded themselves as a way of reinvigorating their group or faction, and attracting funding.”

“There’s been increased dissatisfaction among certain elements of the Taliban, and with the media talking about ISIS all the time and the Afghan government playing up the idea of ISIS as a way of keeping the United States interested, all of that sort of set the ground for the groups to rebrand themselves,” Gopal says.

Among the groups that have taken up ISIS’ black flag in Afghanistan are factions of the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-i-Taliban, or TTP; the Pakistani militant group Lashkar e Taiba; and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Currently, the leaders of ISIS in Afghanistan are predominantly former Pakistani Taliban members.

Some members and commanders of the Afghan Taliban have also defected, highlighting rising disaffection within the group, which despite being able to briefly take and hold the provincial capital of Kunduz in September, has experienced fragmentation and turmoil over the last several months. Some defectors began joining ISIS because of the long absence of Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader whose stature and mystique held the disparate group together. The confirmation of his death in July has only increased defections. Others, meanwhile, were driven to ISIS by disagreements over whether the Taliban should take part in peace talks with the Afghan government.

“The motivations for people to want to take up arms and fight against the Afghan state haven’t diminished,” Gopal says. “You have the leadership saying, well, it’s time to negotiate, time to look at peace.” The groups that have rebranded themselves as ISIS are able to step in, Gopal says, and claim, “‘We’re not the Taliban … we’re not going to enter these negotiations. We’re part of this global movement now that’s been so successful in Iraq and Syria.”

No one knows exactly how many fighters now call themselves ISIS in Afghanistan, but officials estimate there are around a thousand. The main areas where they hold sway are districts in the eastern province of Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan, and parts of Zabul in the south and Kunduz in the north. By July, it was claimed that ISIS had defeated the Taliban in three districts in Nangarhar — Achin, Shinwar and Khogyani. But the Taliban has been pushing back, leaving civilians caught in the middle of fighting between both groups. The mid-year tally of civilian casualties in Afghanistan hit a record high in 2015, since the United Nations started counting in 2009 — 1,592 dead, 3,329 injured.

Do they take orders from or have ties to ISIS in Iraq and Syria?

While a spokesman for ISIS central in Iraq and Syria announced the establishment of an Afghan affiliate in January, experts say there isn’t much evidence of centralized command and control links between fighters in Afghanistan and the leadership in Iraq and Syria yet.

“They embrace the label, and they swear allegiance to Baghdadi, but it doesn’t appear there is any direction, control or instructions coming from Syria, Iraq or Baghdadi,” explains Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

“If you look at the way in which this group has operated on the ground, it operates very differently from the ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” Gopal says. “They’re not acting like ISIS central … They’re not destroying shrines and doing things against local culture.”

However, that could change, and the things to keep an eye on are capabilities or behaviors of the group changing over time, experts say.

Could they spread like ISIS in Iraq and Syria?

The startlingly rapid rise of ISIS rattled Western officials. In 2011, the group emerged from the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2011 and gained recruits and fighting experience in the Syrian civil war before launching a lightning offensive on Mosul and establishing its caliphate. The group took advantage of power vacuums and weakened state security forces in Syria and Iraq, as well as harnessing sectarian tensions in Sunni majority areas.

With fighters in Afghanistan now flying the flag of ISIS too, the natural concern is whether what happened in Iraq and Syria could happen in Afghanistan.

It’s still to early to tell, experts acknowledge, but there are fundamental differences between ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the situation in Afghanistan that could impede ISIS’ spread in the latter.

ISIS’ ideology, which is Salafist, is antithetical to the Taliban’s ideology, which has origins in Sufism and Deobandi. Salafist ideology is a very austere interpretation of Islam that’s “supposed to harken back to the way they imagine the Prophet lived,” Gopal says. However, in Afghanistan people worship holy shrines and saints, and the beliefs are more mystical. “That’s the way Islam functions in southern Afghanistan, but it’s all considered heretical by the Salafists.” These ideological differences make it harder to recruit and gain the acceptance of the public.

Gopal offers the example of an Afghan Taliban commander who allied with ISIS and was killed in a drone strike. Mullah Raouf Khadim had a lot of difficulty recruiting people in Afghanistan, because “he went back to his village and told people, ‘You shouldn’t worship graves. You shouldn’t go to the holy men.’ And they all thought he was crazy.” He was only able to get people to come around after mollifying some of the Salafist interpretations.

Afghanistan also doesn’t have the same kinds of sectarian tensions that ISIS can exploit, Felbab-Brown points out. “Although the Pashtuns often feel excluded from the government, and mobilizing along the lines of Pashtun ethnicity has been a factor, there’s already an alternative that exists — the Taliban — and that’s the big difference compared to Iraq and Syria.” While Syria’s militias were fractious, and Iraq’s sectarian tensions boiled over, in Afghanistan “you have a pan-Afghan, national, potent, long-established insurgency” in the Taliban. So far, the fiercest fighting has not been between ISIS and government security forces, but between ISIS and the Taliban.

ISIS and the Taliban not spreading in Afghanistan is also contingent upon the stability of the government and the strength of Afghan security forces, who seemed to struggle in regaining control of Kunduz when the Taliban briefly overran it for two weeks in September.

To help prevent their spread, President Barack Obama announced last month that the United States would keep 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through 2016, and maintain about 5,500 going into 2017. In announcing the decision, Obama said, “I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again.”

Withdrawing all troops as planned, given the current situation, “would have led to a very dangerous situation for the region and for us,” Cunningham, who now serves as the Khalilzad Chair on Afghanistan at the Atlantic Council, says. “I think the outcome would have been one in which the Afghans were not able to sustain their security effort in the way it needed to be done.”

Such concerns have only grown in the wake of the Nov. 13 attack on Paris that killed at least 129 people — an assault that Iraqi intelligence suggested was at least partially planned in Raqqa, ISIS’ self-appointed capital in Syria. As Cunningham says, if the growing brand of ISIS in Afghanistan isn’t somehow defeated, the danger is that “there will develop a more organic connection with ISIS as it exists in Syria and Iraq.”

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US-CERT Alerts Users to Holiday Phishing Scams and Malware Campaigns

US-CERT reminds users to remain vigilant when browsing or shopping online this holiday season. Ecards from unknown senders may contain malicious links. Fake advertisements or shipping notifications may deliver infected attachments. Spoofed email messages and fraudulent posts on social networking sites may request support for phony causes.

To avoid seasonal campaigns that could result in security breaches, identity theft, or financial loss, US-CERT encourages users to take the following actions:

  • Avoid following unsolicited links or downloading attachments from unknown sources.
  • Visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information page on Charity Scams.

If you believe you are a victim of a holiday phishing scam or malware campaign, consider the following actions:

  • Report the attack to the police and file a report with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Contact your financial institution immediately and close any accounts that may have been compromised. Watch for any unexplainable charges to your account.
  • Immediately change any passwords you might have revealed and do not use that password in the future. Avoid reusing passwords on multiple sites.
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Soeharto era major factor that created extremism: Expert

Marguerite Afra Sapiie

Political repression under then president Soeharto’s administration was a major factor that created some of the extremist groups that Indonesia is dealing with today, a terrorism expert said on Thursday.

The director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), Sidney Jones, said it was wrong to think that during the New Order era from 1966 to 1998 Indonesia never had any hard-liners and radical groups because in fact these groups existed clandestinely underground.

“Take a look at Jemaah Islamiyah [a domestic terror cell]. They were born in 1993 and emerged to fight Soeharto, gathering forces against his ‘Asas Tunggal’ policy and to take revenge for the Tanjung Priok massacre,” Jones said, referring to the policy that criminalized those who subscribed to any ideology other than Pancasila and to the massacre of Muslims in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, by the Indonesian Military in 1984.

In preventing radicalization brought by the threats of extremist groups, ranging from the Islamic State of Indonesia (NII), Jemaah Islamiyah, to the cross-border Islamic State (IS) movement, she said that strengthening democratization might be the way.

According to her, if people looked at the perspective that a government’s repression would lead to radicalization, then democratization could lead to a solution to end it. However, there were also problems created by democracy itself, which in some cases actually made the work to prevent radicalization harder.

“In democracy, sometimes it’s hard for the government to take action against them [extremist groups] because of freedom of association, speech and so on,” Jones told after a discussion themed “Radicalization and De-Radicalization: Comparing Experiences, Germany (Europe), Indonesia and Beyond”.

Islamic expert and editor at the Deutschlandfunk German public broadcasting radio station Thorsten Gerald Schneiders concurred, saying that while strengthening democracy might be good for newborn democratic countries, taking democracy to the next level might not work in several countries, including in Germany.

According to Thorsten, one of the challenges in European countries right now was the xenophobia that some Germans also had, especially those of right-wing parties, toward refugees from the Middle East, who were all considered to be members of extremist groups migrating to Europe.

While in fact, Thorsten said, people should separate the refugee crisis and the emergence of extremist groups, simply because terrorists had existed in many countries even before people from conflict-ridden Syria were coming to Europe to run away from their President Bashar al-Assad, as well as from IS. (iik)

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