The U.S.-led Coalition against the Islamic State (IS) announced on 28 February that it had killed Fabien Clain (Abu Anas al-Firansi), a French citizen. Clain and his brother, Jean-Michel (Abu Uthman), were targeted by a Coalition airstrike in Baghuz, the final pocket of the “caliphate” in eastern Syria, on 20 February. It was unclear what happened to Jean-Michel, though the 173rd edition of IS’s newsletter, Al-Naba, published on 14 March, says (pp. 9-10) that he was killed a few days after Fabien. Continue reading →
In the 118th edition of Al-Naba, the Islamic State’s newsletter, there was an acknowledgment of Salah Abdeslam as a “brother”. Abdeslam is a Belgian citizen of Moroccan extraction, who acted as a logistician and facilitator for the 13 November 2015 massacre in Paris, though failed on the night to carry out his own part in the atrocity. Abdeslam is one of the few conspirators involved in the Paris attacks and the subsequent bombing in Brussels on 22 March 2016 who is still alive. The significance of this is that IS has generally ignored its operatives if they end up being arrested, and Abdeslam is an acute case of this: he has never been acknowledged in IS’s propaganda since the Paris attack, notably being excluded from the twelfth issue of IS’s Dabiq magazine released on 18 November 2015 that named the Paris attackers and described how the operation was carried out. The Naba article is reproduced below. Continue reading →
The U.S. State Department on 17 August sanctioned two Islamic State (IS) operatives, Ahmad al-Khald (or Ahmad Alkhald), who was involved in the November 2015 terrorist atrocities in France and the March 2016 bombings in Belgium, and Iyad Hamid Mahl al-Jumayli (Abu Yahya al-Iraqi), IS’s internal security chief. Continue reading →
The United States released sanctions yesterday that confirmed the identity of Abu Sulayman al-Firansi, a senior commander in the external operations division of the Islamic State (IS). Abu Sulayman is Abdelilah Himich, a French citizen, as was first reported last month. Among the interesting aspects of this are the revelation that a European made it to a very senior position within the structure of IS’s foreign intelligence service, the amn al-kharji. Continue reading →
In the past two years, and especially over the last month, the Islamic State militant group has launched a coordinated campaign of terrorism in Europe. Among these recent attacks was the murder of 84 people in Nice by a man who ploughed a truck into Bastille Day crowds, and the brutal killing of a priest in Normandy when two young men stormed a church.
Now, the number of armed police in London, and ultimately across the U.K., is set to increase significantly. These additional forces will patrol landmarks and other areas where large numbers of people congregate. An attack in Britain is “highly likely … a case of when, not if,” according to the commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. A stabbing in the British capital Wednesday is not currently being treated as an extremist act but has underlined the perceived need for an increased police presence. Continue reading →
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 →
It has already been established that the on-the-ground leader of the Islamic State’s atrocities on Paris on November 13, Abdelhamid Abaaoud (Abu Umar al-Baljiki), had already been promoted in IS’s media. Abaaoud appeared in the February 2015 edition of IS’s Dabiq magazine. It now seems likely that at least one more of the Paris attackers, Foued Mohamed Aggad (Abu Fu’ad al-Faransi), had appeared in IS media already—the November 2014 video that was the fifth (of seven) in the series fronted by Mohammed Emwazi (“Jihadi John”), IS’s British executioner. The November 2014 video showed the slaughter of around twenty men, supposedly soldiers and airmen of the Assad regime, in the village of Dabiq, and the beheading of American aid worker Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig. It is also possible that two further Paris attackers, Bilal Hadfi (Abu Mujahid al-Faransi) and Brahim Abdeslam (Abul-Qa’qa al-Baljiki), appeared in the November 2014 video. Continue reading →