For more than six months a series of tweets have detailed the alleged covert alliances and conspiratorial machinations behind the ascension of The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, the Islamist group taking over large parts of Iraq.
Taken together, the tweets form a slanted but valuable picture of ISIS and one of the only portraits of its leaders. Perhaps even more important, the account is still active, sending out tweets days ago about ISIS’s current strategy in Iraq and what it plans to do next.
(One in the eye for ISIS by Mystery Tweeter or to be Taken with a Pinch of Salt)
Sitting over a keyboard somewhere, likely in a Syrian town now held by rebel forces, is @wikibaghdady, the leaker behind the anti-ISIS account. He may be a former ISIS member who defected to ISIS’s rivals in Syria, the al Qaeda-backed Al Nusra front, as some analysts have speculated. Or, “he” may actually be more than one person, with @wikibaghdady serving as the avatar for a group effort to undermine ISIS’s official story and knock it from its perch atop the jihadist movement. Whatever the case, @wikibaghdady has put ISIS in uncomfortable positions, revealing the true name of the group’s leader and a deeply controversial association.
The on-line gang fight goes back to Syria and the competition between jihadist groups there for turf, religious authority, and the spoils of war.
Brian Fishman, a fellow at The New America foundation and ISIS analyst who has been following the group for years, is cautious about @wikibaghdady’s claims but called the account, “at minimum a keen observer of events in Syria,” and “a key source of ideas that should be investigated through other means.” A similar assessment came from Hassan Hassan, an analyst at the Delma institute in Abu Dhabi and expert on radical groups in the region. “The account does seem to offer credible insider information about ISIS,” Hassan said, “but it is not wholly accurate…[and] should be taken with a pinch of salt.”
#AceNewsServices – WASHINGTON – April 30 – A surge in the number of aggressive Al-Qaeda affiliates and like-minded groups the Middle East and North Africa poses a serious threat to U.S. interests and allies, the State Department said Wednesday in reporting a more than 40 percent increase in terrorist attacks worldwide between 2012 and 2013.
The department also singled out Iran as a major state sponsor of terrorism that continues to defy demands it prove its atomic ambitions are peaceful even as Washington pursues negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.
In its annual global terrorism report, the department said that losses in Al-Qaeda’s core leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan “accelerated” the network’s decentralization in 2013. That has resulted in more autonomous and more aggressive affiliates, notably in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, north-west Africa, and Somalia, it said.
“The terrorist threat continued to evolve rapidly in 2013, with an increasing number of groups around the world — including both AQ affiliates and other terrorist organizations — posing a threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests,” according to the strategic assessment of the “Country Reports on Terrorism.”
The report identified a 43 percent increase in the number of terrorist attacks in 2013 from 2012, according to statistics provided by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
It counted 9,707 terrorist attacks around the world in 2013, resulting in more than 17,800 deaths and more than 32,500 injuries. Most of those occurred in Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia, Syria, Thailand and Yemen. In 2012, the figures were 6,771 terrorist attacks, with more than 11,000 deaths and more than 21,600 injuries. Most of those where in the same 10 countries as in 2013.
The most lethal attacks in 2013 were conducted by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Pakistani Taliban, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Al-Qaeda in Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to the report.
Fox News – AP – AFP – USA Today
Ace Related News:
- Fox News – April 30 – http://tinyurl.com/pgy8dbo
Incidents of Terrorism Worldwide – http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/crt/2012/210017.htm
PDF – Incidents of Terrorism Worldwide – http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/210288.pdf
#AceWorldNews – SYRIA – April 01 – More than 150,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a new toll released on Tuesday.
It had documented the deaths of 150,344 people, 51,212 of them civilians, including nearly 7,985 children, AFP reported.
The monitoring group said 37,781 members of the armed opposition had been killed in the fighting, including Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.
The Observatory added that 364 members of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollha movement were killed (ALN News)
The conflict started in 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on peaceful anti-government protester’s.
#AceWorldNews At least nine people have been killed in 5 car bombings targeting commercial neighbourhoods of Baghdad, security and medical officials said.
The blasts occurred at markets or commercial areas of the Sadr City, Amin, Amil, Qahira and Shuala neighbourhoods said police and medical sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
More than 30 people were wounded, the authorities said.
No one yet has claimed the responsibility for the attacks.
Authorities fear that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was behind the bombings.
#AceWorldNews says that Saudi Arabia blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood on Friday as a terrorist group among three other militant groups, Saudi television reported citing a statement by the Interior Ministry.
The kingdom’s branch of the Shiite Hezbollah movement, the Syria-based Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the al-Nusra Front are also included in the Saudi terrorism list.
Hundreds of Saudi fighters are believed to have joined ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria.
A deadline for those fighters to return home was extended.
#AceWorldNews says that Militants from an Al-Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), withdrew from a rebel-held Syrian town near the border with Turkey on Friday, Reuters said, citing a monitoring group.
ISIL took Azaz, 5km from the Turkish border, five months ago from rival opposition fighters, and has fought other rebels who control the border post with Turkey.
Months of rebel infighting in and around Azaz hampered efforts to get humanitarian aid into Syria and help tens of thousands of refugees.
#AceWorldNews says at least 1,069 people, mostly fighters, have been killed in two weeks of battles between Syrian rebels and jihadists, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday. Not all of those dead were identified, AFP reported. Among them were 608 Islamist and moderate rebels, 312 jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and 130 civilians, the group said.
#AceWorldNews says according to BEIRUT (AP) — Major international news organizations sent a letter to the leadership of the armed opposition in Syria Wednesday, calling for urgent action against rebel groups increasingly targeting journalists for kidnappings.
The letter, signed by 13 news organizations including The Associated Press, is in response to a sharp rise in the kidnapping of journalists while on assignment in opposition-held areas in northern Syria.
The widespread seizure of journalists is unprecedented and has so far been largely under-reported by news organizations in the hope that keeping the kidnappings out of public view may help with negotiating the captives’ release. The scale of the abductions — more than 30 are believed to be currently held — and the lack of response to individual mediation efforts have encouraged some families and employers to speak out.
Most kidnappings since the summer have taken place in rebel-held territories, particularly in chaotic northern and eastern Syria, where militant al-Qaida-linked groups hold influence. Among the most dangerous places are the northeastern city of Raqqa, which was taken over by al-Qaida militants shortly after it became the first city to fall entirely into rebel hands; the eastern Deir el-Zour province; the border town of Azaz; and the corridor leading to Aleppo, once a main route for journalists going into Syria.
“As long as kidnappings are permitted to continue unabated, journalists will not be willing to undertake assignments inside Syria, and they will no longer be able to serve as witnesses to the events taking place within Syria’s borders,” the letter said.
Signatories to the letter are the AP, Agence France Presse, Reuters, BBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Media, The Economist, Getty Images, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times and The Telegraph.
The open letter is being sent to the leadership of the Western-backed mainstream Free Syrian Army and to individual armed groups including the Islamic Front, an umbrella organization of six of the most powerful brigades in Syria.
Syria’s rebels are a disparate group of brigades and battalions, increasingly dominated by Islamic extremists, including al-Qaida-linked groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Jabhat al-Nusra.
The closest thing to a central command is the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, headed by Gen. Salim Idris, a secular-minded moderate. But he holds limited sway over the myriad groups inside Syria, some of which have broken away from the Free Syrian Army, announcing that the group did not represent them. Infighting between the extremists and moderates is on the rise, undermining their fight against President Bashar Assad.
While jihadi groups are believed responsible for most kidnappings since the summer, government-backed militias, criminal gangs and rebels affiliated with the Free Syrian Army also have been involved. Their motives have ranged from ransom to prisoner exchanges.
The Syrian National Coalition, Syria’s main opposition group in exile considered to be the political arm of the Free Syrian Army, condemned the kidnapping of journalists in a statement issued Wednesday.
“The Syrian Coalition and the General Staff of the Free Syrian Army reiterate their commitment to exerting all efforts necessary to secure the release of all kidnapped persons and provide protection to journalists and human rights activists operating in Syria,” the statement said.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says approximately 30 foreign and Syrian journalists are missing and 55 have been killed since Syria’s civil war began in early 2011. CPJ also has documented at least 26 other journalists who disappeared this year but are now safe.
Many of the abduction cases go unreported at the request of the families or employers. News organizations on a case-by-case basis are inclined to respect such requests, regardless of the identity of the person abducted, if they are convinced that publication would increase the danger for the victim.
On Tuesday, the families of two Spanish journalists abducted nearly three months ago appealed publicly for their release, after failing to make contact with the captors via intermediaries. Javier Espinosa, Middle East bureau chief of El Mundo newspaper, and Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, a freelance photographer who was traveling with him, were taken captive Sept. 16 by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant at a checkpoint in the northeastern Raqqa province, the families said.
In the letter, the 13 news organizations said it was “imperative” for the leadership of the armed opposition to commit itself to assuring that journalists can work within Syria, secure from the threat of kidnapping.
“Among other things, we ask the leadership to assist in identifying those groups currently holding journalists and take the steps necessary to bring about their release,” the statement said.
- News outlets urge Syria rebels to halt abductions (kansascity.com)
- News outlets urge Syria rebels to halt abductions (rapidcityjournal.com)
- News Outlets Urge Syria Rebels to Halt Abductions (nytimes.com)