Espionage Files: Syrian Rebel Spy Chief Claims CIA Ignored Intelligence On Rise of ISIS

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Free Syrian Army agent says his agents have been providing the US agency with GPS positions of its leaders and headquarters but the US has failed to act

The “spymaster” of a key moderate Syrian rebel group has accused the CIA of failing to act on reams of detailed intelligence his network has been supplying the US on Isil since 2013 – including GPS coordinates of its leaders and headquarters.

The Free Syrian Army’s spy chief insisted proper use of the intelligence his agents provided from within Isil’s ranks, and often at grave risk to their life, could have critically damaged the jihadist group on several occasions.

Speaking to Le Monde in Turkey, “M”, as the French newspaper dubbed the man for security reasons, said: “From the moment Daesh (the Arab acronym for Isil) had 20 members to when it had 20,000, we have shown everything to the Americans. When we asked them what they did with this information, they always gave evasive answers, saying it was up to their decision-makers”.

The Free Syrian Army, or FSA, was founded by a group of defected Syrian Armed Forces officers and soldiers in July 2011, and received backing from Britain and the US for its moderate line.

Le Monde was shown photographs of a training camp in the northern province of Latakia frequented by foreign Isil fighters. “Naturally I transmitted this to my Western contacts with the GPS coordinates but had not response,” he is cited as saying. “Agents of mine also managed to get hold of phone numbers of Isil officials, serial numbers of satellite equipment and IP addresses. But once again, zero response.”

In 2014, FSA fighters under the banner Hazzm Movement were supplied anti-tank missiles in a covert CIA programme and received US military training in Qatar on their use.

In the summer of 2014, while Isil besieged Mossul in Iraq, “M” helped devise a secret plan presented to the Americans to rout Isil from northern Syria on the Azaz-Alep line. The plan was detailed street by street, hour by hour, and included the precise itinerary of fighters and their refuelling points. “In every village held by Daesh, knew the number of armed men, where their offices and hideouts were. We had located snipers and mines, we knew where the local emir slept, the colour of his car and even the brand. From a tactical and strategic point of view, we were ready,” he said.

However, the Americans failed to give the green light, he said.

“They were reluctant to provide us satellite images. They said their planes couldn’t help once the fighting with Isil started. All they offered us was to get rid of a few obstacles before the start of the offensive,” he said.

He then provided the US with details of the Isil command structure in Raqqa, from the emir to those in charge of checkpoints and pages of GPS coordinates. “That was a year and a half ago and Raqqa is still the capital of Daesh,” he said.

Read the Original Article at Telgraph

Crusader Corner: The ISIS Paradox, Strength in Weakness

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ISIS is a terrorist group attempting to become a state. It inherited al Qaeda’s strengths, including international networks, battle tested military doctrine and strategy, and a radical religious ideology, Jihadi Salafism. The ISIS ideology has a proven record in recruiting foreign fighters worldwide to support jihadist insurgencies and terror cells.

ISIS also has some competitive advantages over al Qaeda that make it currently more dangerous to American interests and security. These advantages include the powerful imagery of the Islamic Caliphate battling the forces of tyranny and corruption in the fires of the end-times and a mastery of online social media platforms to deliver its messages and establish its global brand. ISIS has also exceeded al Qaeda in its mastery of Islamic religious apologetics. Recruited Baathist military and intelligence specialists help plan brutally coercive governance strategies inherited from the master of rule-through-terror, Saddam Hussein. The organization’s character as an adaptive guerrilla group is allowing it to spread to dozens of new locations, vastly complicating America’s military and intelligence campaign against it.

All of these advantages, however, have inherent weaknesses to be exploited, if we have the will, patience, and a coherent strategy to attack them. For example, the ISIS group’s greatest achievement, seizing and holding territory, is also a strategic flaw, because it must defend its base with forces that cannot match the military power of the United States and its coalition. Losing territory at the center has the potential to weaken its appeal, if the United States finally mounts an effective counter-narrative and prevents  “provinces” from seizing and governing new territories.

ISIS Military Doctrine: the Guerrilla Strategic Wrapper

Much has been made of the ISIS group’s graduation from a terrorist group in Iraq to a proto-state between Iraq and Syria with a conventional military force and an actual government. However, most of its successful military engagements involve small unit guerrilla tactics, suicide bombings, and ferocious propaganda. Moreover, its government has proven to be hollow with sadistic executions a key to its survival.

Like al Qaeda, ISIS follows a three-stage Maoist guerrilla warfare strategy adapted to the Islamic context:

  • First ISIS engages in terrorism and light guerrilla attacks to destabilize an area and induce government forces to retreat.
  • Next, they seize the area and set up primitive governance offering security, food, and basic services.
  • And Finally as they seize more areas, they loosely consolidate “liberated” areas into a larger region that takes on the aspect of a more permanent proto-state with more conventional military forces and government.

This process is iterative, as they demonstrated in Syria and Iraq, where they can be in stage one in one location and stage two or three in others. For example, if they are driven out of a city such as Ramadi or Tikrit, they may revert there to stage one (terrorism), while preparing to retake the city and escalate to stage two. In addition, when they sustain smaller losses in areas they hold, they increase terrorist activity in a newsworthy area such as Baghdad. In fact, an increase in random terrorist attacks may often be a sign that ISIS is suffering setbacks, not as a demonstration of its strength. This is the paradox of guerrilla strategy in which weakness manifests as strength and strength often is disguised weakness.

As ISIS faces an uncertain future: regular setbacks in Syria/Iraq motivate them to expand into other areas, and their slogan, “surviving and expanding,” entails increased needs for fighters, and money to support them and their expanded holdings. Ultimately, the ISIS strategy is about influencing international news media to see them as winners, while terrorizing local population to accept what they cannot love. Both of these tactics are showing early signs of failure.

Are ISIS Wilayat as Dangerous as al-Qaeda Affiliates?

ISIS is currently fraying in Iraq and Syria as a result of the coalition effort against it and its own brutal governance. Supply lines between Turkey and Syria are problematic at best, as are lines of communication between Raqqa and both Aleppo and Mosul. Furthermore, this fractured proto-state has been forced to reduce its fighters’ pay by half and is struggling to maintain control of its captive populace. Unfortunately, this weakness at the center inevitably means that there will be signs of strength elsewhere, as long as its foundational narrative and ideology remain intact. And should the proto-state fail without a strong government to take its place, ISIS will revert to its jihadist guerrilla roots.

The ISIS group’s dramatic move of fighters to reinforce its outpost in oil-rich, chaotic Libya has the potential to become extremely dangerous. Similarly, ISIS moves to Afghanistan and Pakistan are already showing troubling progress. Pakistani police are struggling with an ISIS group in nearly ungovernable Karachi and investigating ISIS inroads among Pakistani university professors working to radicalize students. Jordan’s security forces recently thwarted an ISIS attack inside Jordan. The examples continue to multiply.

We can also be confident that ISIS is desperately planning dramatic suicidal attacks in Europe and the United States. For the moment, ISIS outposts are more dangerous than al Qaeda’s affiliates. However, al Qaeda is showing signs of a comeback in a number of areas, including Yemen, and should be expected to compete with ISIS for the title of most dangerous. The bottom line is that we are slowly making significant gains in the battle against ISIS, but we still lack a comprehensive strategy, including a strategic narrative, to stop its metastasis.

Read the Original Article at The Cipher Brief

West Ignoring Grave Threat from ISIS in Libya, Israeli Terror Experts Warn

Well we have a POTUS that does not even listen to Military Advisors and people waaaaay smarter than him, so good luck on him listening to Israel, a country with more experience fighting terror than anybody in the world. -SF

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Libya is the only place outside Iraq and Syria where the jihadi group controls territory, but US and Europe have no strategy there, researchers say

Despite battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the West is woefully neglecting the spread of the terrorist group in Libya, where it poses a supreme danger not only to the Middle East and North Africa, but also to Europe, according to Israeli terrorism researchers.

“Libya is the only country besides Syria and Iraq where IS controls a large territory and controls government infrastructure, including a power plant, port, and economical ports,” said Reuven Erlich, a former senior officer in military intelligence and currently the head of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC). “We think that IS’s establishment in Libya poses a grave threat and it needs to be taken very seriously by Europe and the US.”

Several researchers at ITIC, which operates under the Israel Intelligence and Heritage Commemorations Center, spent a full year examining IS’s activity in Libya, and this week are publishing their worrying conclusions in a 175-paper report, entitled “ISIS in Libya: a Major Regional and International Threat.”

Read the Remainder at Times of Israel

Crusader Corner: Understanding the ‘Caliphate Curve’

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By Daniel Greenfield

A report by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation found that the Syrian rebels were mostly Islamic Jihadists and that even if ISIS were defeated there were 15 other groups sharing its worldview that were ready to take its place.

And that’s just in Syria.

The official ISIS story, the one that we read in the newspapers, watch on television and hear on the radio, is that it’s a unique group whose brand of extremism is so extreme that there is no comparing it to anything else. ISIS has nothing to do with Islam. Or with anything else. It’s a complete aberration.

Except for the 15 other Jihadist groups ready to step into its shoes in just one country.

Islamic Supremacist organizations like ISIS can be graded on the “Caliphate curve”. The Caliphate curve is based on how quickly an Islamic organization wants to achieve the Caliphate. What we describe as “extreme” or “moderate” is really the speed at which an Islamic group seeks to recreate the Caliphate.

ISIS is at the extreme end of the scale, not because it tortures, kills and rapes, but because it implemented the Caliphate immediately. The atrocities for which ISIS has become known are typical of a functioning Caliphate. The execution of Muslims who do not submit to the Caliph, the ethnic cleansing and sexual slavery of non-Muslims are not aberrations. They are normal behavior for a Caliphate.

The last Caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, was selling non-Muslim girls as sex slaves after the invention of the telephone. A New York Times report from 1886 documented the sale of girls as young as twelve, one of them with “light hazel eyes, black eyebrows and long yellow hair”. An earlier report from the London Post described Turks, “sending their blacks to market, in order to make room for a newly-purchased white girl”. This behavior is not a temporary aberration, but dates back to Mohammed’s men raping and enslaving non-Muslim women and young girls as a reward for fighting to spread Islam.

The ISIS behaviors that we find so shocking were widely practiced in even the most civilized parts of the Muslim world around the time that the Statue of Liberty was being dedicated in New York City.

To Muslims, the end of slavery is one of the humiliations that they had to endure because of the loss of the Caliphate. Europeans forced an end to the slave trade. The British made the Turks give up their slaves. The United States made the Saudis give up their slaves in the 1960s. (Unofficially they still exist.) When the Muslim Brotherhood took over Egypt, its Islamist constitution dropped a ban on slavery.

The Muslim Brotherhood is on the moderate side of the Caliphate curve not because it doesn’t want to bring back the Caliphate, it does, or because it doesn’t want to subjugate non-Muslims, it does, but because it wants to do so gradually over an extended period of time using modern political methods.

But whether you take the long road along the Caliphate curve or the short one it still ends up in the same place. Everyone on the Caliphate curve agrees that the world, including the United States, must be ruled by Muslims under Islamic law and that freedom and equal rights for all must come to an end.

ISIS is just doing right now what the Muslim Brotherhood would take a hundred years to accomplish.

We are not at war with ISIS. We are at war with everyone on the Caliphate curve. Not because we choose to be, but because like Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich or Communism’s vision of one world under the red flag, the Caliphate is a plan for imposing a totalitarian system on us to deprive us of our rights.

The Nazis and the Communists had a vision for the world. So do the Islamic Supremacists who advocate the restoration of the Caliphate. All three groups occasionally played the victim of our foreign policy, but they were not responding to us, they were trying to bring about their positive vision of an ideal society.

Nazi, Communist and Islamist societies just happen to be living nightmares for the rest of us.

No one on the Caliphate curve is moderate. Some on the Caliphate curve are just more patient. They put up billboards, create hashtags and try to ban any criticism of their ideology as Islamophobic. But that’s just Caliphatism with a human face. And that makes them a much more dangerous enemy.

ISIS is in some ways our least dangerous enemy. We haven’t defeated ISIS, because we haven’t even tried. Instead Obama fights a war in which 75 percent of strikes on ISIS are blocked and leaflets are dropped 45 minutes before a strike on oil tankers warning ISIS to flee. If we were to fight ISIS by the same rules as our wars in the last century, the Islamic State would have been crushed long ago.

A insta-Caliphate like ISIS isn’t hard to beat. The global networks of Al Qaeda employing more conventional terror tactics are a trickier force because they are embedded within the stream of Muslim migration. And the Muslim Brotherhood is the trickiest of them all because it is so deeply embedded within Muslim populations in the West that it represents and controls those populations.

What ISIS accomplishes by brute force, the Muslim Brotherhood does by setting up networks of front groups. Both ISIS and the Brotherhood control large Muslim populations. ISIS conquers populations in failed states. The Muslim Brotherhood however exercises control over populations in the cities of the West. We could bomb Raqqa, but can we bomb Dearborn, Jersey City or Irvine?

This is where the Caliphate curve truly reaches its most terrifying potential.

The original Islamic expansionism was so devastating not because it managed to seize control over the hinterlands of Arabia, but because it conquered and subjugated civilized cities such as Alexandria, Constantinople, Jerusalem, Athens and Delhi. ISIS envisions repeating these conquests and more, but if it succeeds it will not be because of its military strategy, but because it targets have been colonized.

We can destroy ISIS tomorrow, but we will still be in an extended war with a hundred other groups who all have a vision for restoring the Caliphate. This war will never end until we crush their supremacist agenda by demonstrating that we will never again allow such a horror to exist on this earth. As long as Muslim groups hold out hope for a restoration of the Caliphate this war, in its various forms, will go on.

We are not at war with an organization, but with the idea that Muslims are superior to non-Muslims and are endowed by Allah with the right to rule over them, to rob them, to rape them and enslave them. ISIS is the most naked expression of this idea. But it’s an idea that everyone on the Caliphate curve accepts.

Until we defeat this racist idea, new Islamic groups will constantly keep arising animated by this vision. Wars fueled by supremacist beliefs have historically only ended when the illusion of superiority was destroyed by utterly defeating and humiliating the attackers. It worked with Japan and Nazi Germany.

Our war now will not end until we destroy the supremacist faith in the Caliphate curve.

Crusader Corner #9: Understanding ISIS’ “De-Centralized” Organizational Structure

 

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Decentralization: The Future of ISIS

by Nicholas B. Pace

With the United States increasingly involved in counter-terror operations across the world, terrorist organizations have had to become more flexible and adaptive to their environment.  Centralized, top-down terrorist organizations with ambitions to target the United States and its interests are no longer feasible.  The United States’ use of technology and its ability to target any location across the globe, through the use of multiple intelligence methods and drone strikes, has made this organizational model impossible to maintain.  The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is an example of the trend in de-centralizing terror networks, and represents their evolution.  Their evolution from a branch of al Qaeda to a localized army with a radical Islamic ideology will lead to further decentralization as the group is attacked directly and forced to adapt.

The move to decentralized, flexible, adaptive networks limits the ability of the United States and its allies to effectively conduct strikes against terrorist sanctuaries, while maximizing the unpredictability and effectiveness of global terror organizations.  ISIS, like al Qaeda, is extremely effective in decentralizing its operational capacity.  Rather than plan and direct attacks from a centrally located command and control post, al Qaeda has decentralized its operations, content to ideology and ideas designed to inspire attacks directed at its targets.  This has resulted in a new organizational model that is much more difficult to target, and creates new counter-terror implications for the United States and its allies.

Why Decentralize?

As previously mentioned, de-centralization is necessary to the survival of the leaders of terror organizations.  Osama bin Laden is dead.  Ayman al Zawahiri is in hiding, and since September 11, 2001, numerous other al Qaeda leaders have been killed or captured.  Members such as Abd al Kader Mahmoud Mohamed al Sayed, who was “…a longtime senior jihadist leader and military commander who was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan sometime in the Spring of 2012” [i].  There are other reasons, however, to move toward decentralization that do not allow for simple explanations of hardship.  The rhetoric of al Qaeda itself describes such hardship, and even welcomes it as evidence that an Islamic Caliphate will be established following such a struggle.  According to Christopher Blanchard, “…Bin Laden issued a declaration of jihad against the United States in 1996…”, which he often compares to “…Islamic resistance to the European Crusades…”[ii].  The word jihad itself means struggle in Arabic, and the Crusades were a series of wars that lasted nearly 200 years[iii].  In this light, the current al Qaeda leadership does not expect an immediate end to their struggle, and likely sees it lasting beyond their lives.

Read the Remainder at SWJ

 

The Starfish Caliphate: How ISIL Exploits the Power of a Decentralized Organization

by Stewart Welch

Until recently, Islamic terrorist groups generally adapted themselves to one of two models. The first model was an underground resistance network that could appear anywhere and carry out spectacular attacks. This was Al Qaeda, who sought to inspire jihadists to their cause. The second model, used by groups like the Taliban, was hierarchal and geographically centered, but did little to recruit outside their location.

Today a hybrid has emerged, and that is ISIL. The recent Paris attacks demonstrate how they have managed to combine these two models to deadly effect.  ISIL utilizes a leadership structure necessary to hold territory and implement Sharia law, but their real strength comes from an ability to operate as a decentralized network that helps them project power on the battlefield and in the information sphere.

In their 2006 book, The Starfish and the Spider, Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom describe starfish organizations as those that survive without leadership. Centralized organizations are like spiders: cut off the head and the spider dies. Decentralized organizations are more like starfish, which multiply when you try to cut them to pieces. Groups like Napster, Wikipedia, or Alcoholics Anonymous have strength in their decentralized, leaderless nature. ISIL is a spider organization that acts like a starfish. It is a formidable challenge because it utilizes the power of the starfish and exploits advantages of decentralization, while maintaining a hierarchy of leadership. ISIL possesses aspects of all five legs of decentralization that are common to open system organizations:

Read the Remainder at SWJ

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!