A Free Syrian Army source says a San Diego man was killed in battle fighting for the Islamic State (IS) against a rival anti-Assad faction over the weekend. Douglas McArthur McCain, 33, was identified through passport photos and distinctive neck tattoo.
This comes as the Obama administration ramps up its effort to counter the self-proclaimed terrorist state in the wake of American journalist James Foley's brutal execution last week.
McCain was born in Illinois but later moved to the Twin Cities in Minnesota where he graduated from Robbinsdale Cooper High School in 1999. Police arrested McCain in 2000 on a disorderly conduct charge; in 2001 on a theft charge; and again in 2006 on charges of obstruction, according to court documents.
His "Duale ThaslaveofAllah" Facebook account features jihadist imagery such as the black flag used by IS and links to other Facebook pages depicting street brawls. His most recent Facebook activity shows he befriended a Malaysian jihadist who lives in Raqqa, Syria where the IS is based.
U.S. intelligence officials estimate at least 100 Americans have gone to Syria to fight for a myriad of jihadist factions battling the Assad regime. Of those, only about a dozen Americans are believed to be fighting for IS.
McCain becomes the fourth American known to have been killed while fighting for jihadist groups.
In May, Florida resident Moner Mohammad Abusalha became the first American to be a suicide bomber in Syria fighting for Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate. A Pittsburgh man, identified as Amir Farouk Ibrahim, was reportedly killed fighting in Syria in 2013. Nicole Lynn Mansfield, a white convert to Islam from the Detroit area, also was killed while fighting there last year.
McCain's death no doubt will heighten concern about IS ability to recruit American Muslims to fight under its banner – concern that had already been brewing due to images of the White House and Chicago's Old Republic Building that had been circulated in IS-related Twitter accounts.
Israel's counterterrorism operations in Gaza have effectively deteriorated Hamas' military capabilities and facilitated in breaking down the terrorist group's chain of command, security officials told the Jerusalem Post Tuesday.
Later that day, amid the report's assessment that Hamas had lost much of its will to fight, the terrorist group agreed to the latest Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.
There is growing discontent among the Hamas ranks, as the group suffered significant terrorist casualties, destruction of vital military infrastructure, rocket construction capabilities, and major destruction of its sophisticated underground tunnel network, the Post report said. Israel's successful targeted assassination of senior Hamas leaders severely disrupted the terrorist organization's command and control structure, and even resulted in the desertion of rank and file terrorists from battle.
In light of the assassinations, growing suspicion of Israeli intelligence infiltration also forced Hamas to halt the use sophisticated technologies in the battlefield, significantly reducing its ability to fight. The growing mistrust and panic led Hamas to summarily execute over 20 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel.
Mid-range commanders allegedly fled with their families from conflict zones to avoid having their houses destroyed, producing a sense of mistrust and abandonment among remaining fighters. In one case, 14 Hamas fighters were reportedly trapped in a tunnel for 20 days with no supplies while their commanders failed to even attempt a rescue effort. Some are believed to have starved to death.
According to the Israeli assessments, many within Gaza's society are disillusioned with Hamas, whose leaders were among the first to hide underground leaving the civilians to cope with Israeli retaliation to Hamas' indiscriminate terrorist campaign. Hamas is also accused of confiscating aid transferred into the Gaza Strip, intended for needy civilians, and giving it to its own members.
None of this reality has stopped Hamas from claiming victory. Hours before the cease-fire went into effect, dozens of rockets and mortar shells targeted southern Israel, wounding dozens and killing one Israeli. The Hamas Al-Qassam Brigades boasts of its terrorist campaign and perceived diplomatic victory over Israel, touting that it is preparing for the next round of hostilities against the Jewish state.
Hamas leadership continues to make clear that they remain committed to Israel's destruction. The Gaza war showed that they are willing to sacrifice their own people, by constantly firing from civilian population centers and structures, including mosques and hospitals, in hopes of advancing that goal.
A Hamas training manual published by the engineering corps of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the terrorist group's military arm, tells Palestinian civilians living in Gaza how to build and store bombs in their homes.
Such recommendations further demonstrate Hamas' desire to put civilians into harm's way. Secondary explosions consistent with storage of munitions in civilian areas have been observed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) since the beginning of the latest conflict in July.
The terrorists aim "to transfer combat from open areas to built-up urban areas, which serves the 'resistance' [i.e. Hamas] and fighters of Islamic Jihad," according to the manual, seized by Israeli troops during Operation Protective Edge.
The manual tells "jihad fighters" to take advantage of private residences to evade Israeli intelligence-gathering efforts. It also suggests doing so enhances the element of surprise.
According to an IDF translation of the section titled "Factors for Successfully Hiding Weapons in Homes," the Al-Qassam Brigades recommends:
(1) The activity of hiding weapons in homes needs to be done with secrecy and should not have a military character.
(2) Placing equipment in residential areas needs to be done with household items.
(3) You must use residents of the area in order place the equipment inside.
Jordanian prosecutors charged eight people with planning to attack American soldiers and Israel's embassy in the country, in addition to recruiting individuals on behalf of Hizballah. A Syrian fugitive and seven Jordanians are accused of being part of a "conspiracy with intent to carry out terrorist acts," according to an Investigative Project on Terrorism translation of a Jordanian daily Al Ghad story.
The suspects are accused of being Hizballah members. The Lebanese-based Iranian terror proxy is an illegal organization in Jordan and designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. and other major Western countries. The seven Jordanians had automatic weapons, basic materials for manufacturing explosives, and small imaging devices to conduct intelligence operations when they were arrested in May.
The indictment reveals that this case dates back to 2006 when the main defendant became infuriated with the presence of American soldiers in Jordan. He then recruited others, who were all members of the "Association Against Zionism and Racism."
According to the indictment, the defendants conducted surveillance of a road frequented by American soldiers and plotted an attack using AK-47s. Later, the plan changed to a bombing attack after a new recruit to the group brought experience with explosives.
The group practiced detonating bombs and studied using remote controlled devices.
During Israel's 2008 counterterrorism operation in Gaza, according to the indictment, the men allegedly agreed to conduct a terrorist attack against on the Starbucks café in Sweifieh, believing that it belonged to a "Zionist company." The ringleader also suggested that they attack the Israeli embassy.
The main defendant met with a Hizballah security official named Abdul Aziz in Lebanon in 2011, the Jordanian indictment says. The Hizballah official instructed the defendant to recruit more people for possible attacks. In 2012, Hizballah e-mailed the main defendant and inquired whether explosives could be smuggled into Israel. The group began making explosives using battery acid and fertilizer and also built a secret underground bunker to train other recruits on firing weapons. Cell members photographed the bunker and sent it to Hizballah.
Jordanian authorities also seized laptops containing encrypted files that featured detailed Hizballah instructions, information regarding the detonation of timers using remote controls, the manufacture of silencers and chemical products pertaining to the construction of explosives, and instructions regarding the role of photography in terrorist operations.
If convicted, the suspect could face a lifetime of manual labor.
The extensive details produced by the indictment show the extent to which Hizballah continues its terrorist campaign against Western and Israeli targets. In the past couple of years, numerous Hizballah plots have been exposed around the world, including the Burgas bus bombing that resulted in the deaths of five Israelis and the Bulgarian bus driver.
A close friend of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev pleaded guilty last week to impeding the bombing investigation. At a court hearing Thursday, Dias Kadyrbayev admitted to destroying evidence that could be used to implicate Tsarnaev.
Kadyrbayev was indicted along with Azamat Tazhayakov for obstructing the investigation into last year's deadly Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured approximately 260 others. Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov, both nationals of Kazakhstan, attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMass) and were in the United States on student visas.
Soon after the FBI released photographs of the suspected bombers, Kadyrbayev admitted to exchanging text messages with Tsarnaev. In the messages, Tsarnaev said to Kadyrbayev, "I saw the news…" and "If yu [you] want yu [you] can go to my room and take what's there J but ight [night] bro Salam aleikum."
Kadyrbayev then went with co-conspirator Tazhayakov and a third man to Tsarnaev's UMass dorm room. Kadyrbayev found a backpack containing fireworks and a jar of Vaseline. "The fireworks appeared to have been opened, manipulated and some explosive powder appeared to have been removed," Kadyrbayev's plea agreement said. In addition to the backpack, Kadyrbayev also found Tsarnaev's laptop. He and Tazhayakov agreed to take the backpack and the laptop from the dorm room.
Following television news reports on the bombings and the manhunt for the alleged bombers, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov agreed to get rid of the backpack and fireworks. They "placed the backpack and its contents, including the fireworks, into a large trash bag and threw the entire bag into the garbage dumpster." But they kept the laptop and hid it in their apartment. A sanitation truck removed the garbage dumpster from their Carriage Drive apartment complex moved its contents to a landfill in New Bedford, Mass. Tsarnaev's backpack, containing fireworks, a jar of Vaseline, and a thumb drive were later discovered by investigators at the landfill.
Under terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend a sentence of seven years in prison for Kadyrbayev, who has agreed to be deported from the United States after his release. The sentencing date has been set for Nov. 18.
To hear some Palestinian advocates, if Israel simply lifted its blockade on Gaza – aimed at curbing weapons smuggling into the Hamas-controlled territory – then peace could be enjoyed by all.
One of the main Hamas spokesman made it clear in an Aug. 17 speech that those advocates are misguided.
"The time has come for us to say that our true war is not aimed at opening the border crossings. Out true war is aimed at the liberation of Jerusalem, Allah willing," Sami Abu Zuhri said in a speech aired on Hamas' Al Aqsa television. It was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) in a video report.
Abu Zuhri also invoked the infamous anti-Semitic rallying cry radical Islamists often chant when calling for the elimination of Israel.
"Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad has begun its return."
The slogan represents an early Islamic conquest of Khaybar, a predominately Jewish city in modern Saudi Arabia. In the year 629, Muslim armies besieged the city, slaughtering most of its occupants and eventually expelled the remaining Jewish inhabitants.
"The resistance is preparing not for the opening of a border crossing here or there, but rather for the liberation of our Palestinian land. This is the truth that Netanyahu should understand," Abu Zuhri said.
Hamas apologists argue that the group's charter, and its call for Israel's destruction, no longer is valid. Hamas, they believe, deserves a seat at the negotiating table. But Abu Zuhri's speech, the latest in a long line of consistent rhetoric, exposes the hollow nature of trying to cast Hamas as holding any interest in peaceful coexistence.
You may have seen some critical assessments of media coverage during the ongoing Gaza war, but you haven't seen anything like investigative reporter Richard Behar's comprehensive dissection at the Forbes website.
It's an absolutely massive dissection, coming in at over 21,000 words.
But Behar uses much of that to show specific examples of reporters failing to do their jobs in several key areas:
- By not reporting on rocket fire from civilian areas.
- By ignoring a Hamas manual discovered by Israeli troops which explains how to use civilians as protection.
- By largely ignoring a Hamas plot unraveled by Israel to use its vast tunnel network to wage a mass terrorist attack during the upcoming Jewish holidays which could have resulted in wholesale slaughter.
- By mindlessly repeating that the "overwhelming majority" of Palestinian casualties in Gaza are civilians, based solely on Hamas-controlled Palestinian health officials, when preliminary analysis indicates it might be closer to 50/50.
"Journalism ethics professors and historians take note," Behar writes, "You are bearing witness, with few exceptions, to some of the most abysmal overseas reporting since Hearst's New York Journal in 1898 got us into the Spanish-American War and Walter Duranty of the New York Times was ignoring Stalin's crimes in the 1930s.
He puts the greatest scrutiny on failings by the New York Times, "because it is, without question, the most important media outlet in the world, in terms of setting the table each day for other outlets."
But one of its Gaza-based correspondents, Fares Akram, has used a glowing image of the late-Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat as his Facebook profile image and lauded Arafat for being among the "heights by great men."
And Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren dismissed a Foreign Press Association statement acknowledging foreign correspondents in Gaza were "harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported" and that Hamas was developing a blacklist of journalists it didn't like.
Rudoren disputed the statement on Twitter, Behar writes, and then wrote to the Press Association claiming all the reporters she knows consider the Hamas intimidation claims an Israeli narrative that "is nonsense."
Behar reached out to several reporters and editors who covered the war. Most wouldn't speak, or wouldn't speak for attribution.
"Clearly, the preponderance of the evidence is that reporters have indeed been intimidated, and that there is a reason for the intimidation—Hamas has a lot to hide," he wrote. "The media, in other words, is part of the story. Yet this is a story that does not exist to the readers of the New York Times, which include the policymakers in Washington."
Read Behar's full analysis here.
Hamas killed at least 18 Palestinians, including two women, Friday that it suspected of collaborating with Israel, the Jerusalem Post reports. That number is expected to grow.
Eleven suspected collaborators were murdered at a Gaza police station and then Hamas terrorists proceeded to kill seven more Palestinians in a public execution, according to witnesses and an official Hamas website. The victims were shot in front of a crowd of worshipers outside a mosque after prayers.
A Palestinian Facebook page showed a picture of people outside the Gaza City waiting for more public executions. Amnesty International issued a statement calling on Hamas to stop the killings, which Director of Research and Crisis Response Anne Fitzgerald described as "even more shocking by the fact that the victims were sentenced to death after trials which, if they happened at all, were summary and grossly unfair."
This escalation in arrests and quick executions comes in the wake of Israel's targeted assassination of three senior Hamas commanders. Israel's successful intelligence infiltration that enabled the targeted killings has spread fear and mistrust among Hamas' ruling circle. Israel also is preparing for an increase in retaliatory terrorist attacks.
Hamas rockets injured three people in an Ashdod synagogue Friday, and killed a 4-year-old boy in Sha'ar Hanegev.
Hamas has executed many other Palestinians during the Gaza conflict and arrested a number of women, on suspicion of working with Israel.
Vendredi, selon le Jerusalem Post, le Hamas a tué au moins 18 Palestiniens, dont deux femmes, qu'il suspectait de collaborer avec Israël. Ce nombre risque d'augmenter.
Selon plusieurs témoins et un site officiel du Hamas, onze collaborateurs présumés ont été assassinés dans un poste de police de Gaza avant que le Hamas ne procède à l'exécution publique de sept autres Palestiniens. Les victimes ont été tuées par balles en présence d'une foule de fidèles au sortir d'une mosquée, juste après la prière.
Sur la page Facebook d'un Palestinien on pouvait voir la photo de gens qui attendaient en dehors de la ville de Gaza que l'on procède à d'autres exécutions publiques. Amnesty International a publié une déclaration appelant le Hamas à arrêter les meurtres qu'Anne Fitzgerald, Directeur de recherche et de réponse à la crise, décrit comme étant « même plus choquants du fait que les victimes ont été condamnées à mort au terme de procès qui, bien qu'ils aient eu lieu, ont été expéditifs et extrêmement injustes. »
Cette recrudescence d'arrestations et d'exécutions sommaires s'inscrit dans la suite de l'assassinat programmé par Israël de trois hauts dirigeants du Hamas. L'infiltration réussie des services de renseignements israéliens qui a permis ces morts ciblées, a répandu la peur et la méfiance parmi les instances dirigeantes du Hamas. Israël se prépare dès lors aussi à une recrudescence d'attaques de représailles terroristes.
Vendredi, les roquettes du Hamas ont blessé trois personnes dans la synagogue d'Ashdod et ont tué un garçon de 4 ans à Sha'ar Hanegev.
Le Hamas a également arrêté plus de 150 de ses membres pour être interrogés sur des « fuites liées à la sécurité », selon un message de Khaled Abu Toameh posté sur Twitter et citant le site arabe d'actualités Albawaba.
Pendant le conflit à Gaza, le Hamas a exécuté beaucoup d'autres Palestiniens et arrêté nombre de femmes suspectées de travailler pour Israël.
Vladimir Putin's Russian forces remain poised for a possible takeover of neighboring Ukraine. Nuclear-armed North Korea is ruled by an unstable, nihilistic dictator who constantly makes new threats against American allies and the United States itself (along with some of its filmmakers). The Islamic State terrorist group slaughters as many people who cross its path and poses a credible threat of genocide against the ancient Yazidi people in Iraq.
But according to Nihad Awad, head of the supposedly mainstream Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), those threats to global peace pale in comparison with the real threat to world peace and security: Israel.
What's especially bizarre is that Awad's assessment on Twitter is bracketed by tweets critical of ISIS' brutality, which were posted after ISIS released video showing the vicious killing of journalist James Wright Foley.
Awad writes that Israel "targets civilians." This is demonstrably false, given the warning calls and leaflets Israel's military drops before targeting terrorists who do target civilians with the rocket fire, or the leaders of terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad who sanction those attacks.
This is no mis-statement by Awad or an aberration. In July, he called for, "People of conscience: Declare Israel as a terrorist state for the war crimes it has been committing against civilians."
The only terrorist entities are in Gaza, where Hamas diverted tens of millions of dollars that could have helped build an infrastructure and an economy to better the lives of Palestinians and instead used the money to stockpile weapons and build tunnels in hopes of committing mass slaughter of Israeli civilians.
We've repeatedly shown how CAIR was born out of a Hamas-support network in America; how its officials – Awad included – never utter a critical word about Hamas; and how they leap into action as "defenders of the Palestinian cause" when Hamas initiates violence.
Now Awad, who has led CAIR for its entire 20 year history, further shows how his Hamas sympathies skew his world view. No matter how much harm Hamas brings to Palestinians in Gaza, it is never enough to draw his scorn.
Why do people take this guy and his organization seriously?