Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Islamic State Says the Loss of the Caliphate Does Not Mean Defeat

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 16 December 2017

Ak-Naba 110, page 3

The Islamic State newsletter, Al-Naba, had an article on page 3 of its 110th edition, released on 15 December, which mocked those who have declared that the Islamic State is finished, pointing out that it has survived such obituaries before. A rough translation of the article is produced below. Continue reading

Islamic State Claims the Port Authority Attack in America

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 15 December 2017

In the 110th issue of the Islamic State’s newsletter, Al-Naba, released on 15 December 2017, the jihadists claimed responsibility for the attempted pipe bomb attack at the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan, New York City, on 11 December 2017. The claim appeared on page 11 of 12 in a section entitled, “Events of the Week”. The text of the claim is reproduced below. Continue reading

America’s Kurdish Allies in Syria Drift Toward the Regime, Russia, and Iran

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 10 December 2017

Russian soldiers in Efrin, Syria, 1 May 2017 (source)

The American-led Coalition against the Islamic State (IS) partnered with the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF), a political façade for the proscribed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as the ground force in Syria. The most ventilated problems with this partnership so far have been the strain it has put on relations with NATO ally Turkey, against which the PKK has run a terrorist-insurgency for more than thirty years, and the deep local suspicion of the PKK’s governing program that might yet reverse the gains against IS and open political space for other jihadists like al-Qaeda. Another of the problems is now gaining salience: the PKK’s long-term alliance with Bashar al-Asad’s regime and the states—Russia and Iran—that keep it alive. Continue reading

The Islamic State Responds to America Moving its Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 9 December 2017

Al-Naba 109, 8 December 2017

The Islamic State responded to President Donald Trump’s announcement, on 6 December 2017, that the United States would move its Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with an editorial on page 3 of the 109th edition of Al-Naba on 8 December 2017. Below is a very rough translation. Continue reading

Another Product of “Londonistan”: Abdullah Ibrahim al-Faisal

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 8 December 2017

Abdullah al-Faisal

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Abdullah Ibrahim al-Faisal (born: Trevor William Forrest), a Jamaican cleric who supports the Islamic State (IS) on 5 December. This was long overdue. Al-Faisal’s record of disseminating jihadist ideology, and influencing and/or interacting with terrorists, goes back several decades. And since 2014, al-Faisal has been one of IS’s influential English-language propagandist-recruiters. Continue reading

Al-Qaeda Responds to Trump’s Jerusalem Embassy Move

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 6 December 2017

Responding to President Donald Trump’s announcement earlier today that he will move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, al-Qaeda have put out a statement that threatens retaliatory strikes against U.S. interests. Notably, al-Qaeda singles out Saudi Arabia as a government that has to be attacked for enabling Western operations against the jihadists. The statement is reproduced below. Continue reading

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Gives Its Version of Its Own History and Ties to Al-Qaeda

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 5 December 2017

Abdurraheem Atun

Abdurraheem Atun (Abu Abdallah al-Shami), the leading cleric of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), released a statement on 29 November 2017, dated 13 October 2017, laying out the history of HTS, its evolution from Jabhat al-Nusra to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham to HTS, and its relationship with al-Qaeda. Atun’s statement was a response to a speech a day earlier by al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, which said that HTS remained bound to him and al-Qaeda through a bay’at (oath of allegiance) and HTS’s attempts to get out of this were un-lawful manipulations of the kind used by the Islamic State. Atun’s statement was translated by Al-Maqalaat and an edited version is posted below. Continue reading

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham Announces a Ceasefire With Syrian Rebels, Forms a “Settlement Committee”

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 4 December 2017

Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Syrian jihadi group previously under al-Qaeda’s command structure, which has recently arrested some al-Qaeda loyalists in Syria, has been engaged in assaults on the Syrian rebellion for many years in an effort to assert its own hegemony. On 2 December, HTS declared a ceasefire with all other insurgent units and the formation of a Settlement Committee or Reconciliation Committee. Though HTS claims this Committee is independent, it is quite clearly within HTS’s shari’a department. The Committee issued its first statement on the same day it was announced, a translation of which was made by Al-Maqalaat, and is republished below. Continue reading

Ayman al-Zawahiri Finally Addresses the Problems with Al-Qaeda’s Syrian Branch

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 4 December 2017

The leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, gave a thirty-five-minute speech on 28 November 2017, entitled: “Let Us Fight Them As A Solid Structure” (or “Let Us Fight Them As One Body” or “Let Us Fight Them With Solid Foundations”), dealing with the vexed question of al-Qaeda’s relationship with the Syrian jihadi group, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a situation that escalated again in recent days. The mention of an impending Turkish intervention into Idlib—which began on 7 October—suggests that al-Zawahiri recorded this speech in the last days of September or the first few days of October. An English transcript of the speech was released by As-Sahab Media, and is reproduced below with some edits for syntax and transliteration. Continue reading

The Gulf Crisis and British Interests

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 4 December 2017

The decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt to impose a boycott on Qatar this summer was an out-of-character development for the Gulf, where all too much politics is conducted behind closed doors between the ruling families and elites. To go public, the schism between Qatar and the so-called Quartet must have been very serious.

It was the end-point of a dispute that began in the 1990s about Qatar’s foreign policy, which at that point became independent of the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and indeed actively competitive with Saudi interests. Doha wanted to alter the Saudi-oriented status quo and did so by empowering groups—almost invariably Islamists—in its cause. Those Islamists not only had agendas running counter to the other Gulf states’ conception of regional order, but which the Quartet regarded as threatening to their internal security. Continue reading