European leaders fear onslaught of jihadists fleeing from Mosul after Iraq's government and its allies kick ISIS out of the city.
Last year's Paris attacks and the Brussels attacks in March brought heightened awareness that ISIS established an underground network to move jihadis in and out of Europe at will. Thousands of European nationals traveled to Syria and Iraq to wage jihad for ISIS. An estimated 2,500 Europeans still belong to ISIS's fighting force.
"The retaking of (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's) northern Iraq stronghold, Mosul, may lead to the return to Europe of violent (ISIS) fighters," European Union Security Commissioner Julian King told The (London) Telegraph. "This is a very serious threat and we must be prepared to face it."
Iraqi forces, together with Iranian-backed Shiite militia and Kurdish pershmerga, aim to deal a deathblow to ISIS's caliphate in Mosul.
It is a day ISIS anticipated. In an online publication last December called Black Flags From the Islamic State, ISIS vowed to continue its fight.
"If they win this battle, they will capture a lot of weapons, and their soldiers morale will be boosted. Now they will have control over land and will be able to train more people to fight the enemy. If they continue the fight, they will keep winning, but if they start to lose and give up, their leadership will hide in the deserts and mountains again, only to start the: Lone wolf -> Clandestine Cells -> Insurgency -> Army technique, all over again," Black Flags From the Islamic State promised.
Jihadis without a home base pose a direct threat to Europe and menace security officials around the world, warned Raffaello Pantucci, director of the International Security studies at the Royal United Services Institute.
This especially concerns France, which suffered the Paris attacks last November that claimed 130 lives at the hands of ISIS jihadis who fought in Syria. An estimated 400 French nationals are still fighting jihad in warzones.
"We've had hundreds returned to our country [UK.] Some estimates say it's a thousand. We can't monitor the people that are here. So, it is really important that they sit round the table, because there are potentially 9,000 ISIS jihadists sitting in Mosul at the moment, who are also looking to move across," European Parliament member Janice Atkinson told Russia Today.
The conflict against ISIS is moving into a new, unpredictable phase that has Europe on edge worrying about what comes next.
Threats from Russia fill the news these days, from hacking to military assertiveness in Syria.
It's all a product of American failure in Syria and the Obama administration's inability to stand up to Moscow, Lina Khatib, head of the Middle East and North Africa program at London's Chatham House, said Friday at a conference on democracy in the Arab world.
"The U.S. basically has paved the way for Russia to become a superpower once more," Khatib said at the Arab Center Washington, DC conference. "This poses the U.S. [with] a much bigger problem because it has to do with the standing of the United States in the world."
Europe is imperiled by the Syrian civil war and resulting flood of immigrants, she said. "Europe was really waiting for the U.S. to play the lead on Syria, but Russia has sought to weaken Europe. And Brexit is a manifestation of this," Khatib said.
"The whole world order is at risk of being changed and not for the better, and the roots of this do go back to the Syrian conflict."
The U.S. missed a golden opportunity to take a leading role in Syria early on, she said, particularly when it came to Russian support for dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime and Obama's red line on chemical weapons.
President Obama declared Assad needed to go in August 2011. Visits by then U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford to anti-Assad demonstrations at the time raised hopes, but the support required never materialized.
"The U.S. failed the protesters in Syria who were longing for decent change," Khatib said.
Obama's red-line declaration – that the U.S. would take action if Assad used chemical weapons – showed Assad the U.S. was not a credible threat.
This was compounded by the Obama administration's failure to support moderate non-Islamists opposed to the Assad regime, which opened the door for Islamists to gain an upper hand.
"Russia gained confidence as a result of that, and used it as leverage in peace talks and ever since," Khatib said.
ISIS attacks around the world showed that Obama's policy of containing the terrorist group had failed.
"All of this paved the way for Russia to come into the picture and take an increasingly central role in the Syrian conflict to the degree that now no solution to the Syrian conflict can happen without Russian blessing," Khatib said.
A Palestinian man shot dead Sunday after waging a terrorist attack that killed two people in Jerusalem and wounded five others was hailed as "the Lion of Jerusalem" and a martyr by an official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Mesbah Abu Sbeih, 39, engaged in "self-defense," Deek wrote Monday on Twitter. That is "...*not* an attack. Reporting otherwise perpetuates a false propaganda."
As we have shown, this kind of glorification of violence, when directed at Israelis, is consistent for Deek, an attorney who serves on the board for CAIR's New York chapter. She has called Israel "the genocidal zionist regime."
In this case, she reposted a video tribute to Sbeih on Facebook, describing him as "this mountain of a man, how they envied him." The video shows footage of the shooting attack and its aftermath, including a Palestinian taping on his cell phone from a distance shouting, "Allahu Akhbar."
Deek's organization, CAIR, has roots in a Hamas support organization in the United States created by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Witnesses and documents establish these connections, but CAIR officials refuse to confront the issue directly.
Deek is joining a series of Palestinian groups and people in canonizing Sbeih. A Palestinian soccer team posed with a photo of the terrorist hailing him as a martyr and hero. Giant posters displaying his image appeared on buildings. The Palestinian Authority called for a general strike Sunday to honor his "martyrdom."
Sbeih was supposed to begin a four-month jail sentence stemming from a 2013 assault on a police officer.
"[T]hey thought he'd walk into the zionist dungeon meekly," Deek wrote. "He chose resistance and dignity instead."
A 60-year-old woman, Levana Malihi, was one of the victims of this act of "dignity."
He killed an innocent woman. Deek offered one wish for his legacy: "May he live forever a thorn in the eye of every zionist colonizer and hostage taker," she wrote.
According to the Sunday Times of London, the British Home Office is attempting to censor a new report that accuses the government of failing to integrate immigrants and tackle counter extremism, "by allowing some areas to operate as if they were Muslim-only zones."
Authored by Dame Louise Casey, the government's integration tsar appointed by David Cameron, the report's release has been delayed for months after Home Office officials intervened because of its findings.
In an October 9 article, the Sunday Times states the report blames the government for its failure to mitigate the rapid pace of immigration and to implement a coherent strategy to enhance the integration of various communities. The report also describes how the government allows certain Muslim-dominated regions to operate independently, where state schools shut down for Islamic prayers on Friday.
Heavy criticism is also levied at the government for failing to defend the UK's counter extremism program (Prevent) with the consequence of allowing Islamists to freely label the program as an attack targeting all Muslims.
A senior Home Office official, Charlie Edwards, revealed that the report will be drastically rewritten to minimize the findings, according to several professional sources speaking to the Sunday Times.
"He (Edwards) told us the Home Office didn't like it and was trying to find a way to water it down," one source said. A Home Office spokesperson refused to deny these allegations. Another source told the Sunday Times that Edwards believes the "report focused too narrowly on Muslim extremism and integration."
Moreover, the report allegedly counters Islamists' assertions that right wing extremism is as much of an issue in Britain as radical Islamism. In the past 15 years, Islamists were responsible for almost all terrorist plots in the country.
Last year, Dame Casey, the report's author, launched an anti-extremism strategy that featured investigations into the possibility that Islamists were infiltrating public institutions and seeking to promote Shari'a law. She has asserted that some officials just 'mak[e] excuses'...'looking at [their] shoes and hoping it will go away' in the face of extremist and separatist pressure in institutions such as schools and universities."
It might be one of the few things on which Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton agree: President Obama was wrong Friday when he vetoed the "Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act."
The bill, which passed the U.S. House Sept. 9 after passing the Senate May 17, would allow Americans victimized by foreign terrorist attacks to sue countries responsible. Specifically, 9/11 victims could sue Saudi Arabia, which generated 15 of the 19 hijackers who struck the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Flight 93, which crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers fought back.
But in an interview with the Arabic-language Al Sharq Al Awsat, Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Nihad Awad cast the legislation as an anti-Muslim attack.
The bill "is a continuation of the series of [actions] attaching terrorism to Islamic societies, the Islamic world and Islamic countries, as well as Islamic personalities, since it aims to demonize Islam," an Investigative Project on Terrorism translation of Awad's remarks said. "... so that things have reached the point of attaching the accusation of terrorism against Saudi Arabia, which is the heart of the Muslim world, and accusing it is an accusation of Muslims all over the world."
He compared the bill to campaigns against mosque construction in the United States and said it is pushed by the same ideology that "supports the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying that those who voted for the resolution in the Congress are those waging war on Islam and they always vote for wars and conflicts, and are exploiting the families of the victims in this crisis."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., co-sponsored and advocated for the bill, which enjoyed bipartisan support. In a statement, he pledged to make this President Obama's first veto to be over-ridden by Congress.
More importantly, Awad's description that the bill's supporters "are those waging war on Islam" is especially dangerous and reckless. That message, that the West is at war against Islam, is considered the most effective at radicalizing Muslims.
CAIR officials used to repeatedly invoke that message, but seemed to have backed away from it in recent years. Awad's revival was directed at an Arabic-speaking audience.
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, who served as co-chairman of a congressional 9/11 inquiry, has long advocated for the release of 28 pages of his committee's report focusing on the hijackers' connections to Saudi government officials. Those pages were released in July. In a New York Times oped earlier this month, Graham said they raise more questions and advocated for the release of more investigative material still deemed classified.
His motivation for this campaign, and for supporting JASTA, had nothing to do with Muslims, he explained.
"It can mean justice for the families that have suffered so grievously. It can also mean improving our national security, which has been compromised by the extreme form of Islam that has been promoted by Saudi Arabia," Graham wrote.
President Obama claims he vetoed the bill out of concern for unintended consequences, that it might open the door to similar litigation against U.S. military and government officials in other countries and "would neither protect Americans from terrorist attacks nor improve the effectiveness of our response to such attacks."
Both Trump and Clinton said they would sign the bill if elected president, CNN reported.
Growing extremist threats require critical funding for securing American Jewish communities, Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told a Jewish group in Washington on Wednesday, the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) reports.
Anti-Jewish threats and attacks are on the rise and far outnumber threats to other religious minorities. According to FBI statistics revealed last year, 57 percent of reported anti-religious hate crimes were directed at Jews. Previous FBI reports also show that Jews are disproportionately targeted in religiously-motivated crimes.
As a result, the vast majority of funds earmarked by Congress to protect non-profit institutions, $20 million for 2016, is allocated for Jewish establishments.
"The need is most acute in the Jewish community because of the ascension of anti-Semitism and hate crimes we see," Mayorkas told an Orthodox Union leadership group.
The terror threat Jewish institutions face is real and the community must prepare for potential threats, he said, adding it is among the concerns that "keep me up at night."
Mayorkas suggested that Jewish institutions hire well trained security, train the community to respond to an active shooter situation, enhance partnerships with local law enforcement, and improve cyber security. Mayorkas said hackers may seek to acquire information to target Jewish children.
He reiterated that the FBI was monitoring over 1,000 suspected extremists throughout the U.S., in each of the 50 states. As radical Islamism remains a potent threat, Jewish communities in particular will likely continue to be primary targets for anti-religious attacks and harassment.
Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) continue to brainwash the next generation of Palestinian youth to become terrorists, while attacks against Israelis increased sharply in the last few days.
This summer, Palestinian youth attended summer camps named after terrorists who killed Israelis, reports Palestinian Media Watch (PMW). In Jerusalem, one camp was named after Baha Alyan – a terrorist who participated in the murder of three Israelis last October.
The camp is affiliated with the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Education and is organized "under the supervision of the [PLO] Supreme Council for Sport and Youth Affairs." The council is led by Deputy Secretary of the Fatah Central Committee Jibril Rajoub, according to an Aug. 14 independent Palestinian news agency report translated by PMW.
In Bethlehem, children participated in the "Martyr Mamoun Al-Khatib Camp," named after a 16-year-old terrorist who attempted to stab and kill an Israeli civilian in December.
Speaking at the camp's opening event, PLO official Najeh Al-Izza stressed that "the Supreme Council is focusing on the youth sector, as it is the foundation for the future and the hope of the present."
With rampant incitement among notable sectors of Palestinian society and across the political spectrum, it comes as no surprise that several Palestinian terrorist attacks occurred this past week.
On Monday, Israeli border police foiled another stabbing attempt in Hebron, the eighth attack targeting Israelis in the past four days. Earlier in the day, a terrorist stabbed two border officers from behind, seriously wounding both Israelis before being shot outside Jerusalem's Old City. The terrorist, from the tumultuous Ras al-Amud neighbourhood in eastern Jerusalem remains in critical condition. One of the Israeli officers is still unconscious after she sustained a neck injury. On Friday and Saturday, Palestinians stabbed and injured two soldiers in Hebron.
While the significant spike in Palestinian terrorism that started in October has largely waned in recent months, these recent incidents suggest a new wave cannot be discounted. Official Palestinian incitement plays a defining role in encouraging these attacks, proving that the Palestinian leadership is more concerned with enabling violence than promoting peace.
Several high profile Iranian officials recently boasted of the Islamic Republic's steadfast support for terrorist organizations committed to opposing Western interests and the destruction of Israel, according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.
An adviser to Iran's parliament speaker, Mansour Haqiqatpour, bragged that Iran would continue supporting the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) despite ongoing negotiations taking place with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that seek to curb Iranian hardline behavior. Haqiqatpour referred to Hizballah and Hamas as "freedom fighter" groups, citing Islam and Islamic revolutionary ideology as primary motivations for Iran's state sponsorship of terrorism.
Hardline Iranian factions and leaders accuse the Iranian government of preparing to offer significant concessions in return for the country's removal from the FATF blacklist. Mohsen Kouhkan, an Iranian parliamentarian, referred to the Iran-FATF negotiations as a "Zionist–American plot." In July 2015, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi insisted that ceasing support for Hizballah in return for an agreement was out of the question.
Since the July 2015 nuclear deal was signed, Iran has expanded its presence in regional conflicts, leading to mounting IRGC casualties. In the last two weeks, six additional IRGC fighters were killed in Syria, including a high-ranking officer. A leader of an Iraqi Shi'ite militia praised IRGC commander Qasem Soleimani's support and confirmed that Shi'ite militias would continue their regional operations after Mosul is cleared of Islamic State fighters.
Moreover, on Sept. 1, an Iranian diplomatic delegation met with Ali Barakeh – a Hamas representative living in Beirut – to discuss Iran's ongoing support for Hamas' violent fight against Israel. Despite notable disagreements since the outbreak of civil war in Syria, predominately Shi'ite Iran continues to court the Sunni Palestinian terrorist organization. The relationship suggests that defeating the Jewish state remains a common objective that supersedes sectarian divisions.
Click here to read the full report outlining recent developments from the Meir Amit Center.
Proponents of the Iran nuclear deal, including many within the Obama administration, argued that the agreement would moderate Iran's behavior. Earlier this year, senior adviser Ben Rhodes even admitted that the Obama administration misled the U.S. public to promote the nuclear deal by falsely alluding to the emergence of a more moderate Islamic Republic. On the contrary, Iran immediately enhanced its support for terrorist organizations, while extremist factions within Iran gained more ground. Though some may debate Iran's long-run trajectory, post-nuclear deal Iran has proved to be even more emboldened to pursue its regional hegemonic ambitions, while more pragmatic Iranian leaders increasingly are silenced.
A federal appeals court tossed out a $655 million civil terrorism judgment against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Wednesday, ruling that U.S. courts lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
The lawsuit, Sokolow v. PLO, was brought by American victims and survivors of six terrorist attacks in Israel between 2001 and 2004 during the Al Aqsa Intifada. Evidence showed that the PA and PLO, then ruled by Yasser Arafat, supported cells that orchestrated the machine gun and bombing attacks and continued to pay the terrorists responsible as they served time in Israeli prisons.
The U.S. Antiterrorism Act allows American victims of foreign terrorist attacks to sue for damages. But, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, that law does not apply to the PA, which is not a sovereign state. There is no evidence that the terrorist attacks specifically targeted Americans, the court ruled. And, the PA's U.S.-based operations are insufficient to consider "at home" in America and create proper jurisdiction.
The PA has diplomatic missions in New York and Washington, and has lobbyists working on its behalf, the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge John G. Koeltl, sitting by designation, said. That's not enough, in part because there is no evidence showing the attacks "resulted from their actions that did occur in the United States."
Similar successful lawsuits targeted Iran, Syria and other states for providing material support and guidance to the responsible terrorists. Those cases, however, involved countries designated by the U.S. as state sponsors of terrorism. An amendment to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act specifically allows litigation against those states by American victims of terrorist attacks.
In Sokolow, the 2nd Circuit ruled, the Palestinian Authority is not even a state, and lacks a sufficient operating base in the United States to meet the legal threshold for jurisdiction.
"The overwhelming evidence shows that the defendants are 'at home' in Palestine, where they govern. Palestine is the central seat of government for the PA and PLO. The PA's authority is limited to the West Bank and Gaza, and it has no independently operated offices anywhere else. All PA governmental ministries, the Palestinian president, the Parliament, and the Palestinian security services reside in Palestine," the ruling said.
The ruling relied heavily on a recent Supreme Court decision unrelated to terrorism, but focused on U.S. courts' jurisdiction over foreign entities. It did not address the evidence showing the PLO and PA's knowledge and involvement in the deadly terror attacks.
Those attacks were "unquestionably horrific," the ruling concluded. "But the federal courts cannot exercise jurisdiction in a civil case beyond the limits prescribed by the due process clause of the Constitution, no matter how horrendous the underlying attacks or morally compelling the plaintiffs' claims."
A Canadian man and his American wife who were kidnapped by Taliban allies in 2012 plead for their lives in a video that appeared Tuesday on the social media site Telegram.
In the undated video, Joshua Boyle and Caitlan Coleman plead for help from their governments to stop the Afghan government from executing Taliban-linked prisoners. Anas Haqqani, son of Haqqani network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, may be among those the Afghan government plans to execute, Agence France Presse reports.
The couple is believed to be held captive by the Haqqani network, which is active in the highlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
"Our captors are afraid of their own mortality approaching and are saying that they will take reprisals on our family – they will execute us, women and children included – if the policies of the Afghan government are not overturned," Boyle said in the video. "Either by the Afghan government or Canada, somehow."
A visibly frightened Boyle called on the United States and Canada to change the Afghan government's policies to spare their captors from possible future execution.
Coleman likewise said that their captors plan to kill her and her family unless their demands are met.
An Afghan Taliban member told The Daily Beast that Boyle, Coleman, and their two children are in good health and are being held in a place where they can move around and exercise.
U.S. officials say they are working to free the family, particularly with help from the Pakistani government, whose military intelligence services, the ISI, has ties with the Haqqani network.
The Haqqani network may be trying to secure a prisoner swap similar to the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl case, a senior source in the Taliban's Qatar office told The Daily Beast.
This isn't the first hostage video involving Boyle and Coleman. Two videos appeared in 2014 in which they asked for U.S. help in securing their release. Those videos were released around the time Bergdahl was freed.
Coleman's parents released a video in late June pleading with her captors for her family's safe release.
Another American is believed to be held by the Haqqani network, but the person's identity has not been made public.