Tag Archives: France

Islamic State Newsletter Claims the Trèbes Supermarket Siege

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 5 April 2018

Arnaud Beltrame, Radouane Lakdim (image sources: one, two)

In Trebes, a small town of 5,000 people in southern France near Carcassonne, at 11 a.m. on 23 March 2018, a 25-year-old Moroccan-born man, Radouane Lakdim, walked into a “Super U” supermarket and opened fire, killing two people immediately, an attendant and a customer.

An hour earlier, Lakdim had hijacked a car on the outskirts of Carcassonne, killing the passenger by shooting him to death and seriously wounding the driver.

Lakdim then drove five miles to Trebes, appeared to stop outside a military barracks, before stopping outside a riot police centre and shooting at a group of four officers from 200 yards away, seriously injuring one. Continue reading

Islamic State Claims it Caused the Evacuation at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Reiterates Claim of Parsons Green Attack

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 23 September 2017

Al-Naba 98, 22 September 2017

The ninety-eighth edition of the Islamic State’s (IS) newsletter, Al-Naba, was released on 22 September 2017. This Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France, was evacuated on 17 September due to a bomb scare, and later declared to be a “false alarm”. This edition of Naba claims that an IS operative in fact planted a bomb, causing the chaos at Charles de Gaulle. Al-Naba 98 also contained a further acknowledgement of the “bucket bombing” at Parsons Green tube station in London, Britain, which took place on the morning 15 September 2017. Continue reading

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

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

The Assad Regime Admits to Manipulating the Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 6, 2017

Khaled Abboud

From the beginning of the uprising in Syria in 2011, there have been accusations that Bashar al-Assad’s regime was in a de facto partnership with the Islamic State (IS) against the mainstream opposition. These accusations have a considerable basis in fact: during the entirety of the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq, Assad collaborated with IS jihadists in the destabilization of Iraq, killing thousands of Iraqi civilians and hundreds of American and British troops. Once the Syrian uprising was underway, the regime undertook various measures to bolster extremists in the insurgency. Assad and IS worked in tandem to leave Syria as a binary choice between themselves: Assad was sure this would rehabilitate him in the eyes of the world and transform his criminal regime into a partner of the international community in suppressing a terrorist insurgency, and IS wanted to rally Sunnis to its banner. The Secretary of the Syrian Parliament has now come forward to underline this. Continue reading

The Islamic State Guided the Normandy Church Attack

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 22, 2016

Normandy church killers, Adel Kermiche and Abdelmalik Petitjean, swear allegiance to the Islamic State [video, 27 July 2016]

Normandy church killers, Adel Kermiche and Abdelmalik Petitjean, swear allegiance to the Islamic State [video, 27 July 2016]

In Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen in Normandy, northern France, on 26 June 2016, two men wielding knives took five hostages in a church around 10:00 local time (just a bit before).[1] Initially there were six hostages consisting of a priest, three nuns, and two worshippers, but one nun managed to escape and alerted the authorities, who surrounded the church.[2] The attackers murdered the priest, Jacques Hamel, 85 (born 30 November 1930[3]), making him kneel on the alter and slitting his throat while preaching in Arabic.[4] One of the nuns present said that while the two killers were initially nervous and aggressive, by the time of the murder they seemed content: one of them gave “a soft smile, that of someone who is happy”.[5] An elderly male worshipper was handed a mobile telephone and made to film the attackers slaughtering the priest, and was himself then slashed and grievously wounded.[6] That footage has not been released, but almost certainly will be at some point. “The two men had cried Allahu Akbar (God is Great) as they left the church with three of the hostages. One man had a fake suicide belt made of aluminium and three knives; the other was carrying a backpack made to look like a bomb and a kitchen timer.” The two attackers were shot dead by police.[7] Continue reading

Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Qaeda

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 12, 2016

The Islamic State’s (IS) weekly newsletter, al-Naba, interviewed a high-ranking al-Qaeda defector, Abu Ubayda al-Lubnani, across two issues in February and March. Abu Ubayda appeared on a list of prominent clerics supporting IS’s caliphate declaration in February 2014, and two months later his defection from al-Qaeda to IS was announced by al-Battar. Abu Ubayda is described by al-Naba—as best as can be told accurately—as having been a member of al-Qaeda’s: Shura [Consultation] Council, a training officer in its Military Committee, and a counter-intelligence officer. Abu Ubayda is advertised as speaking about many secret aspects of al-Qaeda.

Among the topics Abu Ubayda covers is the alleged infiltration and manipulation of al-Qaeda by foreign intelligence services, specifically Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which is not only a violation of jihadist doctrine by collaborating with an “infidel” and illegitimate state but led to the deaths of a number of senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of what Abu Ubayda has to say relates to al-Qaeda’s attempt to take advantage of the Syrian revolution. This persistent campaign has followed a pattern of disguising al-Qaeda’s presence and attempting to influence and eventually co-opt the rebellion against Bashar al-Assad’s regime. One lever al-Qaeda relied upon, according to Abu Ubayda, was Ahrar al-Sham, an organization that disclaims all connections to al-Qaeda and dissimulates about its ideology. Whatever Ahrar’s dominant ideology, it is simply a fact that it has served as the bridge between the foreign-led jihadists and Syrian Islamists, and its connections to al-Qaeda are evident enough. Abu Ubayda suggests Ahrar’s connections to al-Qaeda are even deeper than they appear. Continue reading

What We Know About The Islamic State’s Attack in Nice

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on July 30, 2016

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel on the promenade in Nice on 14 July 2016

Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel on the promenade in Nice on 14 July 2016

On 14 July 2016, Bastille Day, a lorry zig-zagged along the seafront Promenade des Anglais in Nice for two kilometres (1.25 miles) during a fireworks display. Eighty-four people, including ten children, were murdered instantly and two-hundred-plus wounded, nearly two-dozen critically. Below is a compilation of the evidence so far, which indicates that the killer was a part of a substantial network acting on behalf of the Islamic State, though there is not yet any evidence of a direct contact with the terrorist state headquartered in Raqqa. Continue reading

Book Review: A Shameful Act (2006) by Taner Akcam

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 9, 20151

This is the complete review. It has previously been posted in three parts: Part 1 on the question of whether the 1915-17 massacres constitute genocide; Part 2 on the post-war trials and the Nationalist Movement; and Part 3 gives some conclusions on what went wrong in the Allied efforts to prosecute the war criminals and the implications for the present time, with Turkey’s ongoing denial of the genocide and the exodus of Christians from the Middle East.

A Question of Genocide

The controversy over the 1915-17 massacres of Armenian Christians by the Ottoman Empire is whether these acts constitute genocide. Those who say they don’t are not the equivalent of Holocaust-deniers in that while some minimize the figures of the slain, they do not deny that the massacres happened; what they deny is that the massacres reach the legal definition of genocide. Their case is based on three interlinked arguments:

  • Unlike the Nazi Holocaust when a defenceless population was murdered only for its identity, the Armenians were engaged in a massive armed revolt, and this is why the Ottoman government decided to deport them.
  • The intent of the Ottomans was not massacre but the removal of the Armenians, who had sided with one foreign invading power (Russia) and who were showing signs of collaborating with another (Britain), from the militarily sensitive areas as Turkey suffered a two-front invasion in early 1915.
  • While terrible massacres, plus starvation and the cold, took maybe a million lives during the deportations, when the Armenians reached their destinations in Syria and Iraq, which were also part of the Ottoman Empire, they were well-treated and allowed to rebuild their lives, which would not have been the case had the Ottomans intended their destruction.

Taner Akcam’s A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility presents evidence to undermine every one of these arguments. Continue reading