Monthly Archives: March 2017

Islamic State Claims the Westminster Attack

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 31 March 2017

Al-Naba 74, page 12, 30 March 2017

The seventy-fourth edition of al-Naba, the Islamic State’s newsletter, released online on 30 March 2017, reiterated the terrorist group’s 23 March claim via Amaq of the 22 March Westminster attack by Khalid Masood (born: Adrian Russell Ajao). The brief article is reproduced below.
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America Sanctions Anjem Choudary and other British Islamic State Jihadists

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 30 March 2017

Anjem Choudary (image source)

The State Department designated five individuals on 30 March 2017 as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), imposing sanctions on them for having “committed, or [for] pos[ing] a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.” Four of those sanctioned are members of the Islamic State (IS), including two key British operatives in the group’s global network, and the other is a member of al-Qaeda. On the same day, the Treasury Department sanctioned two IS operatives involved in funding and guiding external IS operations in the Far East and Southeast Asia. Continue reading

Islamic State Expands its Foreign Attacks Capacity As the Caliphate Collapses

Published at The International Business Times

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 23 March 2017

Aftermath of the Islamic State terrorist attack in Westminster, March 2017 (image source)

Just after 2:30pm yesterday afternoon, a terrorist mowed down pedestrians with a car on Westminster Bridge before jumping out near Parliament and stabbing a police officer to death. Three people were murdered, forty were injured, and the attacker was shot dead. The Islamic State (ISIS) has now claimed the attack.

The most important question is whether the terrorist had co-conspirators. Prime Minister Theresa May told Parliament this morning that it is “believed that this attacker acted alone”. It is crucial that this is not misread as saying that the attacker was a ‘lone wolf’. The arrests in Birmingham overnight suggest that this killer could have been part of a broader network, which would be consistent with the pattern of ISIS behaviour.

In a new report for the Henry Jackson Society, documents 152 foreign ISIS attacks in 34 countries since 2002, the vast majority in the past two years. In nearly three-quarters of the cases the attacks have a direct link to the organisation, and those without often have accomplices who assist in the atrocities in some way. Just 15% of the attacks have been by inspired individuals, who had no demonstrated connection to ISIS or anyone else in planning or executing their attack. Continue reading

Australian Jihadi Spokesman Distances Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham From Al-Qaeda, Criticises America

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 20 March 2017

Mostafa Mahamed on Sky News, August 2016

Mostafa Mahamed (Abu Sulayman al-Muhajir) is a U.S.-designated terrorist, an al-Qaeda operative who has formally resigned from al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (JFS), which was previously Jabhat al-Nusra and has now reorganized itself as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Earlier this month, on 11 March, Michael Ratney, the U.S. special envoy to Syria, released an open letter (in Arabic) labelling all constituents of HTS as terrorists seeking to exploit the Syrian opposition, and incited divisions within the Islamist sections of the insurgency by including Ahrar al-Sham—heretofore a close HTS ally, though recently involved in clashes with the group—as part of the Syrian revolution. HTS issued a formal response on 12 March and, on 20 March, Mahamed issued his own response, which is reproduced below. The main themes were anti-Americanism and dissuading the Syrian armed opposition that the U.S. was an ally; arguing that HTS was different than JFS and unconnected to al-Qaeda; and the strong impression of a threat should the U.S. move against HTS—while explicitly denying that such a threat was being made.
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America Pushes Back Against Iranian Subversion on the Gulf

Originally posted at The Henry Jackson Society

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 17 March 2017

Protesters march through Manama, Bahrain in March 2011 (Photo from Al-Jazeera)

The U.S. State Department today imposed sanctions on two men, Ahmad Hasan Yusuf (Abu Maryam, Sajjad Hassan Nasir al-Zubaydi) and Alsayed Murtadha Majeed Ramadhan Alawi (Murtadha Majeed Ramadan al-Sindi), labelling them Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT). Both men are members of a group, Saraya al-Ashtar or al-Ashtar Brigades (AAB) that has conducted terrorism in Bahrain and is part of the Iranian revolution’s long reach in the region. Continue reading

Repression Increases in the Syrian Kurdish Areas

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 16, 2017

Kurds protesting against the PYD in Hasaka, 16 August 2016

The Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian front of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is the leading group in the administration of the Kurdish areas in north-eastern Syria. The PYD and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), have become the preferred instrument of the U.S.-led Coalition against the Islamic State (IS) and as a by-product have been assisted in conquering some Arab-majority zones of northern Syria—and perhaps soon of eastern Syria. The PYD/PKK has always treated all dissent harshly and the Kurdish opposition in recent days has reported an escalation in repression by the PYD, which the West—as has become a habit in cases of PYD misbehaviour—has made no public protest about. Continue reading

Why The Islamic State Endures

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 15, 2017

Brian Fishman’s The Master Plan provides a comprehensive history of the Islamic State’s (IS) strategic evolution, covering the personalities and events that shaped one of the most feared terrorist-insurgent groups that has ever existed. Eminently readable, in places even amusing—no small feat in a book about IS—Fishman flips with ease between the overview and the granular to demonstrate his points, using new sources that will allow as much supplementary research as a reader could wish for, and ties it together in a narrative that will be of use to both specialists and generalists. Continue reading