Tag Archives: Belgium

Islamic State Attacks Have Sown Division in France, Marine Le Pen Would Sow More

Published at The Telegraph

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 21 April 2017

Security forces stand guard after attack in Paris, 20 April 2017 (CREDIT: ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA)

In Paris last night a gunman parked his car, stepped out, and opened fire on a police van outside a Marks & Spencer’s on the Champs Élysées. One policeman was murdered; two were wounded. A female tourist was also injured. The attacker was killed by police as he tried to flee and continue his rampage. Within two hours, the Islamic State (ISIL) had claimed the attack via its Amaq News Agency, and, rather unusually, had named the killer: “Abu Yusuf al-Baljiki”.

It has been widely reported that “Abu Yusuf the Belgian” is really Karim Cheurfi the Frenchman, a 39-year-old imprisoned for fifteen years after being convicted for three counts of attempted murder in 2001. Notably, two of his intended victims were police officers. French media has reported that Cheurfi was briefly arrested on 23 February after expressing an intent to kill law-enforcement officials, but released due to lack of evidence; the Interior Ministry refused to comment. Continue reading

Islamic State Operative Connected to Charlie Hebdo Attack Might Still Be Alive

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 15 April 2017

Boubaker al-Hakim (Abu Muqatil al-Tunisi) in Dabiq

Earlier today, an Iraqi military statement made public that the Iraqi government had provided coordinates to Bashar al-Assad’s air force, via the intelligence-sharing cell set up in Baghdad with Russia and Iran, for targets in Raqqa and al-Bukamal. One of the targets was Boubaker al-Hakim (Abu Muqatil al-Tunisi), a French-Tunisian Islamic State (IS) operative. Whether the Syrian regime’s strikes against al-Hakim were successful was not made clear. The interest here is that the U.S. announced on 10 December 2016 that it had killed al-Hakim in an airstrike near Raqqa on 26 November 2016, meaning that either the U.S. was mistaken or the Iraqis are. Al-Hakim is a very interesting figure in his own right with an extensive history in the jihadist movement and also highlights some broader trends, notably the assistance the Assad regime has provided to the IS movement. Continue reading

Assad Cannot Keep Europe Safe From the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on March 24, 2016

Article published at NOW Lebanon

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The long arm of the Islamic State (ISIS) has struck again. Tuesday morning, Zaventem airport in Brussels was hit by two suicide bombers and soon after a third man detonated at Maelbeek metro station, not far from the headquarters of the European Union. At least 31 people were slaughtered and around 270 were injured. Belgium has a long history as a hub of global jihadism and some of its citizens were key in forming ISIS’s statelet. In the wake of the attack, as Western governments look for ways to hasten the demise of ISIS, it will likely be said—again—that the quickest way to do that is by striking a devil’s bargain with the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. From Assad’s role in helping ISIS lay its groundwork in Iraq even before the U.S. invasion to Assad’s help, by omission and commission, in nurturing ISIS in the years since the uprising against him began as a means of defeating the opposition to Assad’s deliberate incitement of a sectarian war, there is nothing that could be further from the truth. While Assad remains in power, ISIS will remain alive. Continue reading

The Islamic State Officially Expands to Afghanistan

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 26 January 2015

The spokesman of the Islamic State (ISIS), Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, gave a speech today entitled, “Say, ‘Die in Your Rage’,” which is drawn from a Surah of the Qur’an [3:119]. The main announcement from Adnani is the acceptance of another wilayat (province), i.e. foreign branch of IS, this time in Afghanistan, led by Hafiz Saeed Khan, a former Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or “Pakistani Taliban” commander who broke away and formed a pro-ISIS faction in October. This follows the first declaration on this matter a month ago by IS’s caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which accepted “provinces” from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, and Algeria. Adnani went on to make the foredoomed request that the Afghan jihadists “abandon disunity and factionalism” in order to join ISIS. Continue reading