Washington Post Falls For Yasser Arafat Syndrome

Yasser Arafat was notorious for his double speech: Nice and peaceful in English, harsh and extremist in Arabic.

The tactic came to mind Friday, when the Washington Post published an opinion piece written by Labib Al Nahass, the head of the foreign bureau of Ahrar Al Sham, a group founded in Syria with the help of al-Qaida leader Ayman Al Zawahiri.

Al Nahass portrays Ahrar al Sham in a moderate light and fails to detail the group's nefarious agenda. He claims that his group was founded by Syrians and fights on their behalf. "We believe that Syria needs a national unifying project that cannot be controlled or delivered by a single party or group and should not be bound to a single ideology," he wrote. "We believe in striking a balance that respects the legitimate aspirations of the majority as well as protects minority communities and enables them to play a real and positive role in Syria's future. We believe in a moderate future for Syria that preserves the state and institutes reforms that benefit all Syrians."

The Post offers no independent verification or context, so readers would not know that Ahrar Al Sham was founded in 2011 by Abu Khaled Al Souri, who fled to Afghanistan during the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood uprising in the 1980s. According to a February 2014 report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Spanish court document that investigated the 2004 Madrid Train bombings identified Al Souri as an Osama bin Laden courier in Europe.

When the Al Nusra Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaida in Syria), and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had a dispute over merging of the two groups, Al Zawahiri sent a letter naming Abu Khaled Al Souri as his delegate in Syria where he assigned him to "oversee the implementation" of agreements between ISIS and Al Nusra. The Long War Journal describes Al Souri as "an influential al Qaeda ideologue whose work is regularly cited in jihadist literature, including al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine."

Domestically Ahrar al Sham is no different than al-Qaida. In the Syrian city of Idlib, it works with Al Nusra to govern the area under Sharia law, force Druze to convert to Islam, and ban Christians from displaying the crosses on their houses of worship. A video published on YouTube by Ahrar Al Sham shows a member of Ahrar Al Sham publicly flogging two Muslim men for not participating in Jumaa (Friday) prayers.

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By Ravi Kumar  |  July 13, 2015 at 3:24 pm  |  Permalink

Prosecution: Rasmieh Odeh Appeal Utterly Fails on the Law

Rasmieh Odeh's appeal of her naturalization fraud conviction, like her trial defense, was filled with emotion.

Unfortunately for her, prosecutors say, it's lacking when it comes to the law.

In a response filed Wednesday with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, lead prosecutor Jonathan Tukel said the appeal "utterly failed" to prove one of its principal arguments, came up empty on relevant, supporting case law and included at least one "strange argument."

Odeh, whose case has been championed by Palestinian and Islamist groups throughout the country, was convicted by a federal jury in Detroit last November of lying on immigration forms in 2004 in order to become a naturalized citizen. She claimed she never had been arrested, detained or convicted despite serving 10 years in an Israeli prison after being convicted in two 1969 Jerusalem bombings, one of which killed two college students at a grocery store.

She argued that rulings by U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain gutted the defense "at its core" and gave Odeh a "faux trial." He ruled that prosecutors had to prove Odeh knew her statements were false when she made them. The defense wanted a "specific intent" threshold, which would have required proof that the false statements were willful efforts to break the law.

The ruling meant it didn't matter why Odeh lied, just that she was aware she was lying in filling out the immigration forms and during her interview with an immigration officer.

Because intent was not a factor, Drain did not let Odeh testify about claims she was tortured in Israeli custody or present an expert witness who would testify that Odeh's false statements were the product of post-traumatic stress shutting out painful memories. But when she took the stand, Odeh testified that she simply misunderstood the questions about whether she had a criminal record. She thought it only applied to her time in the United States. If she understood it meant "ever," she would have disclosed her Israeli convictions, she testified.

"It is a strange argument indeed which asserts that Odeh's defense was impaired because she [was] not allowed to present an expert who would have contradicted Odeh's own testimony," Tukel wrote.

Odeh's appeal asked the appellate court to reduce her 18-month sentence to the five weeks she already spent in jail. Appellate courts simply can't do that, Tukel wrote.

The sentence was fair, especially considering Judge Drain's determination that Odeh deliberately violated orders to keep political issues out of the case, lied during her testimony, and did participate previously in a terrorist attack.

The case wasn't about politics, Drain said at the sentencing hearing, but "about honesty and being truthful and saying the right thing under oath. It's about someone coming into the country illegally and not being truthful about it."

Read the entire prosecution brief here. For more, see the Investigative Project on Terrorism's five-part video series on Odeh's case called "Spinning a Terrorist Into a Victim" and the post-conviction epilogue.

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By IPT News  |  July 8, 2015 at 8:30 pm  |  Permalink

Palestinian Terror Groups Encourage Ramadan Attacks Targeting Jews

Websites affiliated with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad praised the recent spike in terrorist attacks during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and encouraged further violence, the Middle East Monitoring and Research Service (MEMRI) reports.

The websites emphasized the connection between Ramadan and rising attacks targeting Israelis, describing a stronger motivation to sacrifice one's life during the holiday.

"During Ramadan, the Palestinians welcome resistance to the occupation and carry it out with a different flavor that reflects courage, investment [of efforts], and a natural willingness for sacrifice during this most important month for all Muslims. Ever since the first intifada, martyrdom operations, stabbing and shooting attacks have had a special character during the month of Ramadan...," an article posted on the Hamas-affiliated website Palinfo.com and translated by MEMRI said.

Muhammad Al-Qaram, who participated in a 2001 bus bombing in Haifa which killed 15 people and wounded dozens more, explained how he drove the terrorist to the attack site.

"During Ramadan there is a special air of willingness to invest effort and sacrifice in every way, based on religious and emotional influences [that affect] the Muslims and the possessors of just rights and prompt them to risk their lives," he said.

The website also featured religious clerics and experts referring to Ramadan as the month of historic Islamic military victories and jihad when fighters prepare to fight the enemy – in this context, Jews.

"In Islam, Ramadan is the month of jihad, resistance and victories. During this month, people stand ready to sacrifice, and when Muslims are zealous for their homeland, their strength and energies awaken," said Islamic law professor Maher Al-Houli. "... During this month, their resistance and faith are stronger. In the history of Palestine, many campaigns were won and many acts of sacrifice were carried out during Ramadan."

Similar sentiments were expressed on Hamas affiliated website Omamh.com in an article titled "Ramadan – The Month of Resistance In The West Bank." It glorified recent Palestinian terrorist attacks during Ramadan and encouraged further violence, characterizing the latest attacks as "quality operations carried out by fasting fighters" who derived inspiration from last summer's war in Gaza against Israel that also took place during Ramadan.

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By IPT News  |  July 6, 2015 at 4:11 pm  |  Permalink

UK Universities Host Over 100 Islamist Speaker Events Annually

More than 100 radical Islamists are allowed to speak at universities in the United Kingdom (UK) every year, according to a Student Rights group study set for release this week as reported by the Daily Mail.

The study also reveals that more than 20 students who enrolled in UK universities have been convicted of terrorism charges or died fighting with extremists in Syria.

The Student Rights group, run by a prestigious Westminster institute, the Henry Jackson Society, outlines how numerous student organizations refuse to partake in the UK government's anti-extremism strategy called "Prevent."

The research was conducted through an extensive survey of social media and university website, in addition to other means dedicated to logging speaker events.

Last year, radical Islamists gave 123 lectures, featuring provocative topics including "the West is waging a war against Islam." That false message is considered among the most effective notions fueling radicalization among Muslims.

UK universities featured 145 and 132 radical talks in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

Some speakers supported people convicted of terrorism charges and people who promote radical Islamist agendas and oppose the views of non-Islamists. Anti-democracy, homophobic, and pro-sharia law views were also prominent among some of the lectures.

Hamza Tzortzis, from the Islamic Education and Research Academy, was among the most frequent radical university speakers. In the past, Tzortzis expressed that infidels who fight the Muslim "community...should be killed."

While prominent student groups continue to oppose the UK government's approach to countering extremism, Prime Minister David Cameron ordered a multi-faceted response to "take on the radical narrative that is poisoning young minds."

"The new Prevent duty is about protecting people from the poisonous and pernicious influence of extremist ideas that are used to legitimise terrorism. Protecting those who are vulnerable and at risk of radicalisation is a job for all of us. The new duty will make sure key bodies across the country play their part," said security minister John Hayes in reference to UK institutions such as prominent schools and universities.

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By IPT News  |  July 6, 2015 at 11:34 am  |  Permalink

Palestinian Cleric Delivers Anti-Semitic Sermon, Incites Violence Against Jews

Another Palestinian cleric conducted a blatantly anti-Semitic sermon and incited violence against Jews, the Middle East Monitoring Research Service (MEMRI) reports.

Preaching from al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Khaled Al-Maghrabi cited an infamous verse, or hadith, in the Qu'ran which encourages killing Jews.

"...we know, from the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, that at the End of Time, there will be a war between us and the Israelites in the Holy Land. In that war, the trees sand stones will speak. They will say: 'Oh Muslim, there is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him!," Al-Maghrabi said during a sermon posted on the Internet on June 16 and translated by MEMRI.

Al-Maghrabi is part of the Palestinian Authority's Waqf, or religious authority, and receives government pay. Last month, the Simon Wiesenthal Center called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to denounce separate remarks by al-Maghrabi and terminate his pay. In a lecture posted online, al-Maghrabi repeated the "blood libel" that Jews use the blood of children to make matzoh.

In the June sermon, he describes how "the Koran says that Allah is angry with them [the Jews], and that He cursed them and transformed them into apes and pigs ... the Koran exposes their true nature."

He also advised the "Israelites" to "get out of the occupied Holy Land" if they do not convert to Islam.

"Your return and presence in this land is a violation of Allah's command. For this violation, there will be a terrible and painful punishment by Allah. There will be destruction."

This latest radical sermon is just one example of many featuring extremist Palestinian clerics delivering anti-Semitic lectures that incite violence against Jews and Israelis.

It remains to be seen whether the U.S. administration will apply sufficient pressure on the Palestinian Authority to crackdown on these recurring extremist sermons. A recently released State Department report on terrorism worldwide minimizes official Palestinian incitement to violence against Israel and entirely omits any reference to Palestinian glorification of terrorists.

The report actually praises the PA for taking "significant steps to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank that fall under its control do not create content that leads to incitement to violence." The report acknowledges that "some instances of inciting taking place via official media" still occur, listing only three examples. However, the report diminishes the fact that incitement to violence is a systematic and institutionalized PA phenomenon.

The State Department assessment also ignores the direct participation of senior PA officials in praising terrorists and inciting violence against Israelis and Jews.

Click here for an Investigative Project on Terrorism comprehensive outline of Palestinian violent incitement focused only on incidents last fall.

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By IPT News  |  July 6, 2015 at 9:39 am  |  Permalink

Iranian-backed Hizballah and Hamas Bolster Worldwide Terrorist Presence

While the West extends nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Islamic Republic continues to enhance its international terrorism infrastructure through its proxies. Hizballah has 950 active operatives in the Western European state while Hamas maintains 300 operatives, according to a German intelligence report summarized by the Jerusalem Post.

The number of Islamists in Germany rose from 43,190 in 2013 to 43,890 in 2014, the report said.

Radical Islamists are "the greatest danger to Germany...Germany is on the spectrum of goals for Islamic terrorists," said Hans-Georg Maassen, president of German's domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).

The report's chapter on "Islamism and Islamic terrorism" reveals that "Hamas was successful" in organizing people beyond its main support base to participate in anti-Israel protests. There were "more Hamas- supporting events than peace demonstrations, and there was clearly public anti-Semitism" during last summer's war in Gaza.

A reminder about Hizballah's reach came this week in a Cyprus criminal court, where an operative was sentenced to six years in jail following a guilty plea to all eight charges levied against him in connection with a plot to attack Israeli and Jewish targets. Authorities seized nine tons of ammonium nitrate from Hussein Bassam Abdallah, a Lebanese-Canadian. Prosecutors revealed that Abdallah was recruited into Hizballah's military wing roughly five years ago and visited Cyprus approximately 10 times since 2012. This incident marks the second time a Cypriot court sentenced a Hizballah operative to prison for planning attacks against Israeli targets in the last three years.

These developments demonstrate that Iranian backed terrorist organizations continue to bolster their presence internationally and plot attacks throughout the world. Over the last few years, Hizballah has planned attacks against Israeli and Western targets in Thailand, India, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Nepal, and Nigeria among others. In 2012, the terrorist group was responsible for a deadly suicide bus bombing which killed five Israeli tourists and the bus driver in Bulgaria.

Hamas, a terrorist group with long-standing Iranian support, is also enhancing its international terrorist infrastructure. For example, recent reports show that Hamas is actively recruiting Palestinians studying in Malaysia, who are then sent to train in Turkey, to conduct terrorist attacks against Israelis upon returning to the West Bank.

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By IPT News  |  July 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm  |  Permalink

Al-Jazeera Disclosures Deserve a Closer Look…By the Feds

Al Jazeera's run of bad publicity got a little worse this week, when the online Arabic newspaper New Khalij published an article citing part of a cable from the Saudi Embassy saying the network answers to the Qatar government and is stocked with reporters who are part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Arabic language cable was among a batch of internal records published by Wikileaks.

"[W]hatever has been said about the impact of the journalists working in Al-Jazeera, having their weight and their agenda, and most of them belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood or being sympathizers with it, the final say in the end is with Qatari decision makers, with them the ones who determine its objectives, and the ones who identify the direction of the channel to achieve their objectives," the New Khalij report says, citing the Saudi cable.

The cable added that "the existence of a number of prominent journalists belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood in the channel is a matter worthy of concern, as the rulers of Qatar and its Sunni people are of the Hanbali school, and believe in the movement of Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, and the Muslim Brotherhood does not have roots the Qatari society."

Qatar wants to influence the political decision-making of neighboring countries through weaving good relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, the cable said. The reason the network turns to "religious leaders such as Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and political ones such as Hamas derives from Qatar believing that in order to be effective in the region, it must have bargaining chips in many countries, and this is what is achieved for it by the Muslim Brotherhood in its global structural organization and its presence in most Arab and even Islamic countries such as Turkey."

The Saudi assessments fit neatly with claims made in recent federal lawsuits filed against Al-Jazeera America (AJA) by former senior employees. The lawsuits claim the network's U.S. branch discriminated against non-Muslim employees and deliberately pushed anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli biases.

Shannon High-Bassalik's complaint claims that Al Jazeera is a place "where truth and objectivity are set aside to cater to the Company's pro-Arabic prejudices." Instead, employees were told that AJA was here to bring "the Arabic viewpoint to America," which explained in part why it aired programs critical of the U.S., Egypt and Israel.

It's a network owned and controlled by a foreign government that aims to influence U.S. opinion, and by extension, U.S. policy. The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) provides an exemption to media organizations and journalists who act on behalf of foreign principals, but only within designated parameters. Among those parameters, the media organization must be one that "is not owned, directed, supervised, controlled, subsidized, or financed, and none of its policies are determined by any foreign principal defined in subsection (b) of this section, or by any agent of foreign principal required to register under this subchapter..."

The recent allegations in separate federal lawsuits and now in leaked Saudi Arabian cables raises the potential for significant FARA violations by Al-Jazeera America, and appears to be ripe for investigation.

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By IPT News  |  June 24, 2015 at 9:04 am  |  Permalink

State Department Report Minimizes Palestinian Incitement to Violence

The U.S. State Department's Country Reports on Terrorism 2014 issued Friday minimizes official Palestinian incitement to violence against Israel and completely overlooks Palestinian glorification of terrorists.

The annual report lists major terrorist incidents worldwide and outlines each country's counterterrorism efforts and legislation. Terrorism attacks and their resulting deaths spiked last year, the report found, an increase largely driven by attacks by the Islamic State and Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist groups.

With respect to the Palestinian Authority (PA), the report praises the PA for taking "significant steps to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank that fall under its control do not create content that leads to incitement to violence." The report acknowledges that "some instances of inciting taking place via official media" still occur, listing only three examples. However, the report diminishes the fact that incitement to violence is a systematic and institutionalized PA phenomenon.

Click here for an Investigative Project on Terrorism comprehensive outline of Palestinian violent incitement focused only on incidents last fall.

The State Department assessment also ignores the direct participation of senior PA officials in praising terrorists and inciting violence against Israelis and Jews.

For example, the report does not mention PA President Mahmoud Abbas' call last October for Palestinians to prevent Jews from going to the Temple Mount compound "in any way." The video clip of Abbas' Oct. 17 speech was shown 19 on PA television times in three days, implicitly calling for Palestinians to use violence against Israelis.

Instead, the report described PA efforts "to ensure" Friday sermons in more than 1,800 mosques controlled by the PA "do not endorse incitement to violence ... the guidance is that no sermon can discuss political or lead to incitement to violence."

In February, however, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs and other prominent religious officials resorted to an age-old blood libel accusing Jews of attacking Muslims sites and that Israel is trying to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reports. Such accusations are baseless and encourage Palestinians to conduct terrorist attacks against Israel.

The State Department report also omits any reference to official Palestinian glorification of terrorists.

For example, after the October shooting of Rabbi Yehuda Glick, Abbas sent a condolence letter to the family of terrorist Mutaz Hijazi who was killed by Israeli authorities in a firefight during a raid for his capture. In the letter, Abbas called the terrorist a "Shahid," a martyr, who "rose to Heaven while defending our people's rights and holy places," PMW reported.

Moreover, a senior Fatah official claimed that Hijazi was a Fatah operative and expressed pride in his actions, a PMW translation shows.

These blatant omissions from the report leave create a sense that examples of Palestinian incitement to violence and glorification of terrorists are sporadic occurrences. In reality, the Palestinian Authority institutionalizes a systematic campaign of violent incitement and continues to praise terrorists for killing Jews and Israelis, while encouraging other Palestinians to follow in their footsteps.

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By IPT News  |  June 19, 2015 at 1:48 pm  |  Permalink

Would-Be Islamic State Terrorist Charged in New York

A 20-year-old Queens, N.Y. man is charged with planning an attack in the name of the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS). Munther Omar Saleh was arrested on Saturday with two others after charging a police cruiser. One of his co-conspirators had a knife in the waistband of his pants.

Investigators believe Saleh was trying to make a bomb to blow up somewhere in New York in ISIS' name. When the FBI had a confidential source pose as a radical Islamist and reach out to him, Saleh wrote that he was "in NY and trying to do an Op." He quickly cut off contact with the FBI source, saying he was ordered by ISIS to do so.

Saleh first appeared on law enforcement radar in March after a Port Authority officer saw him walking across the George Washington Bridge with a lantern. Saleh asked the officer for a ride across the bridge; the officer refused and directed him toward a bus depot on the New Jersey side of the bridge. The same officer saw Saleh on the bridge the next day. The officer escorted Saleh to the New Jersey Port Authority office, where he was questioned and denied any familiarity with ISIS.

Searches of Saleh's computer and Twitter feed revealed his violent jihadist ideology. "i fear AQ [al-Qaida] could be getting too moderate," he wrote in a September post. A few months later, he tweeted, "IS is known for their high end videos, great weaponry, and quality fighters" and "Khalifah [caliphate] offers us to live under the laws Allah prescribed for us, if we fear him we would rush to the land to be governed by it." He also expressed support via Twitter for the Charlie Hebdo attack, the shooting at a contest of cartoons depicting Islam's prophet Muhammad in Garland, Texas, and the beheading of ISIS captives.

In January, three months after his tweet lamenting al-Qaida's more "moderate" direction, Saleh enrolled in electrical circuitry courses at an aeronautics college. In the months leading up to his arrest, he searched online for vacuums, lamps, hoses, a saw, watches, and pressure-cookers (among other things), all of which could be used to make a pressure-cooker bomb similar to those used in the Boston Marathon bombing.

In May, Saleh researched various tourist sites and landmarks in New York and their security surveillance. He also read articles including, "What Does Islam Say About Killing an Innocent Person?", "Islam: The True Religion of God Almighty", and "Does Islam really allow the killing of innocent unbelievers?"

Other searches involved firearms, hunting gear and supplies, bullet-proof vest, chemical masks, and disguises. Police arrested Salah after he seemed to realize he was under surveillance. An affidavit accompanying the complaint describes a series of attempted evasive actions by Saleh and two others with him, including leaving their Jeep at red light and taking several steps toward a police car nearby.

Less than two weeks earlier, Boston Police and the FBI shot and killed terror suspect Usaama Rahim after he refused to put down a military-style knife. Law enforcement officials say they heard conversations in which Rahim said he planned to attack police officers.

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By IPT News  |  June 17, 2015 at 2:22 pm  |  Permalink

Taliban Seeks Better Relations with Surging Islamic State in Afghanistan

The Taliban reached out to Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi calling for unity between the two jihadist factions, a letter posted online Tuesday by a Taliban supporter shows. IS victories have translated into increasing appeal for its brand even in Afghanistan where the Taliban has been the leading jihadist group for the past two decades.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar refused to recognize Al-Baghdadi's caliphate after he announced its formation last year, but this letter likely comes as a result of Omar's realization that the Islamic State poses a threat to the Taliban.

IS established a base in southern Afghanistan under the leadership of former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mullah Abdul Rauf and promised good wages for anyone willing to fight on behalf of IS.

IS fighters have engaged in their trademark brutality in Afghanistan since the terrorist group announced the establishment of its Khorasan province in January. An April 18 suicide bombing by IS terrorists at a bank in Jalalabad left 35 dead, including several children, and wounded 125. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid condemned the attack, calling it "an evil act."

Disenchanted Taliban members and other jihadist groups have been seduced into joining IS by the latter's slick online propaganda. IS also has attracted foreign jihadists from Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Caucasus to its Afghan fight. Local Afghan officials say these fighters are even more brutal than the Taliban.

"Until now the Islamic Emirate has successfully eliminated all Fitnas (temptations) of disputes, conflicts and division by having unity," Mullah Omar's deputy Alhaj Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor wrote, suggesting that IS was dividing the forces of jihad in Afghanistan.

He added that "...unity of lines is a need, necessity and obligation, [e]specially when we are in war with American crusader Kuffar (Unbelievers). Therefore Jihad in Afghanistan against Occupier American Kuffar and Allies should be under [a] single banner and [a] single leadership."

Mansoor called on Al-Baghdadi to get into direct contact with Taliban leaders to resolve their disputes rather than rely on rumors passed along by sources with an ax to grind against the Taliban. He referred to Al-Baghdadi as a "brother in Islam," noting that the Taliban had not interfered in IS affairs and that Osama bin Laden had recognized the authority of the Taliban's emirate.

"We hope the same from you and [wish] you only goodness from your side due to our brotherhood relationship of Islam," Mansoor wrote.

Al-Baghdadi reportedly holds a dim view of Mullah Omar and referred to him as "a fool and illiterate warlord" who "does not deserve spiritual or political credibility."

IS-related Twitter accounts accuse the Taliban of being "apostates" under Pakistani control. Accusing fellow Muslims of apostasy is tantamount to saying they should be killed.

IS follower @ISIS_Med tweeted on May 22, "Taliban dogs attacked Islamic State bases in Afghanistan and killed some brothers. Caliph promised to wipe out Taliban apostates."

This letter shows the Taliban takes this threat seriously amid the rising popularity of IS among jihadists.

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By John Rossomando  |  June 16, 2015 at 4:35 pm  |  Permalink

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