ISIS Advance Update

By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Friday, April 17th, 2015 @ 6:47PM

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Left: Issue No. 8, of ISIS English magazine DABIQ, April 2015

As ISIS establishing itself as an independent entity and continues its military campaign, the Obama administration declares success in eroding the Islamic State’s power.

According to General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, losing Ramadi to ISIS “is not symbolic in any way.” Why? Because “It’s not been declared, you know, part of the caliphate on one hand or central to the future of Iraq,” he reasoned. What will it take for the Gen. to understand that any territory taken over by ISIS becomes part of caliphate?

Defending Obama’s decision to leave the fighting against ISIS to Iraqi and Iranian forces, Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations claimed on CNN’s “New Day” on Frida, “We’re chipping away” at ISIS, and added,  “We’re in a much stronger position than we were a year ago.”

Meanwhile, ISIS began issuing “smart” identity cards – On April 11, 2015, ISIS-affiliated Twitter accounts posted tweets stating that ISIS has begun to issue “smart” identity cards in the areas under its control, containing chips to prevent forgeries.

ISIS also continues to recruit American sympathizers and fighters. A unknown number of those fighters receive “terrorism training on weapons, combat and tactics,” in ISIS camps in Syria and are sent back to carry out attacks in the U.S. On April 17, in Columbus, Ohio, “Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a U.S. citizen originally from Somalia, was charged with supporting terrorism, supporting a terrorist group and making a false statement involving international terrorism.”  Mohamud traveled to Syria because he wanted to “join you in the high ranks as a Mujahid.” After training in “shooting weapons, breaking into houses, explosives, and hand-to-hand combat.. A cleric then instructed him to return to the U.S. to carry out an act of terrorism..[to] “kill three or four American soldiers execution style,” or attack a prison.

Other supporters of ISIS arrested in the U.S. since the beginning of April include:

  • Keonna Thomas, 30, AKA Fatayat Al Khilafah and Young Lioness, who was arrested on April 4, 2015, in Philadelphia. She was charged with attempting to send aid to ISIS and planning to join the ranks of the organization. According to the security authorities, an ISIS operative asked her to take part in a suicide bombing attack and she expressed her consent. She used the Internet to search for ways of getting to Turkey, obtained a visa and purchased a plane ticket online (Reuters, April 4, 2015).
  • Joshua Ray Van Haften, 34, was arrested at the airport in Chicago on charges of attempting to help ISIS. Van Heften was detained in Turkey since October 2014 and was sent back to the United States. According to the FBI, he wanted to go to Syria via Turkey to join the ranks of ISIS. He left the United States in August 2014. His contact on the Syrian border abandoned him because he couldn’t pay him. He returned to Turkey, where he was arrested (The Investigative Project on Terrorism, April 9, 2015).
  • John T. Booker Jr., a 20-year-old US citizen, was arrested in the US. He told an undercover FBI agent that he and two partners had planned to carry out a suicide bombing attack by means of a truck bomb against US soldiers at Fort Riley. He also made a video in which he pledged allegiance to ISIS (AFP, April 10, 2015).

More examples on ISIS propaganda efforts in past two weeks were published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Center:

Publication of another issue of the ISIS organ

  • On April 1, 2015, ISIS published the eighth issue of Dabiq, its online English-language organ intended for supporters of the organization in the West. The organ includes a series of articles describing the expansion of ISIS’s activities in Africa, including an article about Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS. It also includes an article encouraging foreign fighters to go to Libya and an interview with a Tunisian operative. In an article by abducted British journalist John Cantlie, he warns of additional terrorist attacks that will be carried out in the future against Western countries. The issue also includes criticism of the Al-Nusra Front, claiming that the organization is adopting an ideology with Syrian nationalistic characteristics and is collaborating with the Syrian rebel groups.

New news format on the ISIS radio station

  • ISIS has issued a new format of news summaries on its radio network Al-Bayan, in Arabic, Russian and English. The first news broadcast included updates on Iraq, Syria and Libya, including the death of an ISIS commander in the Al-Yarmouk refugee camp, a suicide bombing attack in Iraq, and ISIS’s military activity in Libya (Daily Telegraph, April 7, 2015).

Left: Logo of ISIS’s radio network Al-Bayan. Right: Issue 8 of the organ Dabiq, which came out in April 2015.
Left: Logo of ISIS’s radio network Al-Bayan. Right: Issue 8 of the organ Dabiq, publised in April 2015.

Encouraging young people to sacrifice their lives for ISIS as suicide bombers

  • On April 11, 2015, ISIS’s media arm in Al-Raqqah published a video showing an ISIS operative lecturing to young boys in uniform about the “Crusaders” who operate against the Sunnis (i.e., the Christians, the US-led coalition). The speaker notes that the Islamic State has provinces in many parts of Africa and Asia, and with the help of Allah it will soon have them in Europe as well: “Allah willing, we will return Andalusia [i.e., modern-day Spain][to the fold of Islam].”
  • The speaker tells the boys that any of them who becomes a suicide bomber against the “Crusaders” will have the privilege of being faithful to the path of Allah and will even see Allah in heaven. He called on the boys to pledge allegiance to death. Following his statements, the boys stand up and shout “we pledge allegiance to death!” (ISIS’s media arm in the Al-Raqqah province, as it appeared on YouTube, April 11, 2015).

ISIS preacher encouraging young people to sacrifice themselves on behalf of ISIS as suicide bombers (ISIS’s media arm in the Al-Raqqah province, YouTube, April 11, 2015)

ISIS preacher encouraging young people to sacrifice themselves on behalf of ISIS as suicide bombers (ISIS’s media arm in the Al-Raqqah province, YouTube, April 11, 2015)

 For more on ISIS advances, see Spotlight on Global Jihad (April 2-15, 2015)

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Categories: ACD/EWI Blog, Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Islamist, Latest News, Obama, Obama Administration, Shari'a, Syria, Terrorist Financing, Turkey, U.S. Foreign Policy, U.S. Policy