Throughout 2020-21, the US provided TPLF terrorists satellite intelligence on Ethiopian troops movements and satellite communication equipment to TPLF leaders to connect with foreign anti-Ethiopian elements.
Throughout 2020-21, key leaders in the US Senate and House of Representatives sponsored legislation to sanction and otherwise undermine the legitimately elected government of Ethiopia and in support of the terrorist TPLF.
Throughout 2020-21, the US has coordinated with major media outlets to propagate disinformation and fake news against Ethiopia and its government and in support of the terrorist TPLF.
The TPLF has long been listed in the Global Terrorism Database for documented acts of terrorism including armed robberies, assaults, hostage taking and kidnapping of foreign nationals and journalists and local leaders, hijacking of truck convoys, extortion of business owners and merchants, nongovernmental organizations, local leaders and private citizens and intimidation of religious leaders and journalists.
The Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) which tracks extremist and hate groups online, said Africa is the main area of Daesh’s expansion. Nigeria, in particular, is a major concern. “Abuja is surrounded on four sides - TRAC has been predicting a dire situation for a year, yet the group keeps expanding in Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory,” said Veryan Khan, president and CEO of the Consortium.
She said some extremist ideologues and commanders had traveled from Syria to Marte, Borno State, Nigeria to advise Daesh. There is also heightened terror activity in Mali. “Something big is going to happen across Africa’s belt. And Daesh in Egypt is advancing on the Suez Canal - that should be a global concern,’’ she said.
Africa could be the ‘future of the caliphate’ if the world continues to look the other way, warned Martin Ewi of the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa’s capital Pretoria in a recent speech to the UN. He said 20 countries are “directly experiencing” the group’s activity. The modus operandi of the group is different from Iraq and Syria where mercenaries ran wild. Daesh now recruits at the grassroots in Africa as it reinvents itself. The messaging is in local languages and dialects which experts find hard to decipher. It is also frustrating for analysts because these are considered “low resource” languages in the sense that there are few translations, no online translation tools, and few grammar and sketches of the languages to reference, explained Veryan.
The African Union condemned the attack and called on neighbouring states to redouble their efforts against terrorism in the region.
No group has claimed responsibility yet for the latest attack, but the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, one of the world's largest databases of terrorists and terrorist groups, points a finger at Jama'a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin. The group is backed by al-Qaida and operates in the Sahel region.
It is not the first time Togo has experienced an attack of this nature on security forces. The first was in November 2021, when a security post in a northern village was attacked.
The question is why these attacks have begun and what they imply for peace and security in the region.
Having closely monitored the conflict and security dynamics of West Africa for over a decade, I am convinced the attacks have to do with the need of violent extremist organisations to establish a presence in Togo as part of a broader recruitment drive.
Canadians have also joined right-wing protests in the U.S., including some who waved the Maple Leaf flag during the insurrection at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. The Proud Boys, a group accused of violence in the U.S., was founded by a Canadian.
And U.S. law enforcement, including Homeland Security and the FBI, has taken a role in investigating online threats from the U.S. that are part of the current protest. The FBI declined comment on its assessment of domestic risks from the Canadian protests, or on whether it has sent agents to Ottawa. But the FBI involvement suggests concern about spillover, said Veryan Khan, president of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, a private consultancy thatmaintains a digital intelligence repository.
Other U.S. attempts to organize mass trucker protests have, however, failed, including a proposed “Stop the tires” trucker strike on Nov. 9, 2020, to demand better benefits for drivers. The Ottawa protests have also put on notice police forces around the world.
Still, “truckers and port people and anyone who is involved in the logistics supply chain have realized they have a lot of power right now, during the pandemic,” Ms. Khan said. And “anything that gets results is going to be repeated.”
Al Qaeda franchise Ansar al Islam has been spreading anti-India hate speech with a nefarious goal of invading India under its so-called ‘Ghazwatul Hind’ ambition. Bangladeshi intelligence agencies have identified a website name Rokomari[dot] com. through which this Jihadist outfit has been selling Islamist and Jihadist publications giving provocation to people in murdering atheists, apostates, bloggers, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists, and infiltrate India by establishing connections with India-based terrorist and separatist groups. Unfortunately, jihadist website Rokomari is available in India as well as the western countries, which is playing role in selling militancy contents to individuals in those countries.
Ghazwa-e-Hind or Ghazwatul Hind is a false prophecy of jihad mentioned in some of the books written by anti-India Muslims foretelling battles in the Indian subcontinent between Muslims and non-Muslims, resulting in the victory of Muslims.
According to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, Ansar al Islam is an Al Qaeda inspired Islamic extremist group in Bangladesh that started activities during 2007 as Jamaatul Muslemin, funded by different NGOs. The group ceased to operate when funding ended. It resurfaced during 2013 as Ansarullah Bangla Team and later changed the name to Ansar al Islam. This is a front group for Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS).
A report in 2013 identified Muhammad Jasimuddin Rahmani as the spiritual leader of the militancy group. Rahmani was inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by the US forces. Rahmani was suspected of building an Islamist terror network in Bangladesh for about five years. The group was sharing jihadist views through a website named ‘Ansarullah Bangla Team’. The server of the website was located in Pakistan. Members of the group have presence on social media.
Safe and effective vaccines are finally here. So are white-nationalist fantasies of using diehard skeptics for their own even more twisted ends.
This may seem like a truly hairbrained, fringe-of-fringe scheme. But it’s actually representative of an increasingly common set of tactics on the far right. CCN isn’t the only entity promoting this scheme or some variation on it, either. It’s just one link in a chain of about 25 Telegram channels, collectively known as “Terrorgram,” many of which build on each other’s ideas and help to amplify and spread them into the wider world. (Telegram did not respond to a request for comment for this story, and The Daily Beast was not able to reach or identify the individual or individuals behind the CCN channel.)
One channel connected to CCN notably laid out a step-by-step process for readers to use to convince anti-vaxxers to commit to or endorse violent resistance to potential vaccine mandates, “regardless of their current understanding of our worldview.”
The notorious neo-Nazi groups Atomwaffen Division and The Base have both been linked to the Terrorgram network in the past. However, CCN seems to take a dim view of those organizations for drawing far too much attention to themselves, leading to waves of arrests and crackdowns against them by law enforcement. CCN and a number of other current Terrorgram groups advocate a far more anonymous, decentralized, and subtle approach to advancing white nationalist goals.
A dozen experts on extremism canvassed by The Daily Beast all expressed serious concern about this effort to co-opt anti-vaxxers to unwittingly serve neo-Nazi ends. As Mollie Saltskog of the Soufan Group, a global security firm, put it, “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen how easily and quickly an online conspiracy can result in acts, sometimes violent, in the real world.”
The particular brand of white nationalism that the CCN and much of the wider Terrogram network it sits within espouse is known as accelerationism. Although the concept’s been around for some time now, modern adherents hold that America’s condemnation of neo-Nazis following the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and other similar events, proved that white nationalism cannot rise up within the existing social structure through peaceful means. Instead, it must leverage crises and social tensions to accelerate the supposedly inevitable collapse of American society—although what precisely they want to do with that ensuing chaos depends on which group you ask.
As such, accelerationist movements throw their weight behind whatever they think will be worst for America. CCN has notably backed Trump’s doomed, fact-free election challenges, but not because the person or people behind it think he actually won or should stay in power. He’s too liberal and pacifistic for them. CCN is just “grateful for all the damage Trump is doing to faith in voting in elections,” as they put it.
Most extremist movements do their best to exploit crises, and they often attempt to subtly seed their beliefs in other, more mainstream communities. But many accelerationists are somewhat unique in their disinterest in drawing in official and visible recruits, or committing direct and claimed acts of violence, and their obsession with making others fire the first shots to start chain reactions of instability they believe they can bend to their will.
Several accelerationist groups embraced the rise of the pandemic this spring, correctly predicting that it would strain the capacity of and faith in public institutions. However, Imran Ahmed of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a think tank concerned with online polarization and vitriol, told The Daily Beast that it was clear early on that they “had not worked out a way of making that happen” any quicker, or more directly to their benefit. And true to their opportunistic nature, they did not solely focus on the pandemic, looking for ways to exploit unrest linked to racial justice protests and the 2020 elections sporadically as well.
The base opportunism of accelerationist entities like CCN and the Terrorgram network makes it hard to know if the people who run them actually are anti-vaxxers, or if they’re just promoting anti-vaxxer beliefs and brewing conspiracy theories to make it harder to control the pandemic.
Most do seem to believe the virus is real. And Veryan Khan of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium sees hints of celebration in their commentary about death rates and the prospect of a long, hard season to come, which CCN occasionally calls “Dark Winter.”
“Thanksgiving surge is working well,” read a post from Saturday. “More industry destroying lockdowns next week for sure. Many will lose their jobs and homes during or right after the holidays.”
In the twisted logic of accelerationism, thirsty as it is for pain and social collapse, that’s good news. Khan believes that these groups “want as many people to get COVID-19 as possible.”
It isn’t just the Netherlands. Members of the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Al Ahwaz, or ASMLA, have been traced in Denmark and the UK. (Ahwaz is a largely-Arab province that borders Kurdistan and Iraq.) Consequently, just as Dutch police were arresting the Iranian Eisa S. in February on suspicion of plotting a terrorist attack in Tehran, Danish officers also were arresting three of his cohorts in Ringsted, a town outside Copenhagen. All four are members of AMSLA, which seeks a separate Arab state in Iran’s Zhuzestan province. Iran considers ASMLA, an Arab-Ba’athist nationalist group, a terrorist organization. In addition, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), ASMLA also has links to the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the midst of international concern, state records show agents in North Carolina investigated more suspicious behavior tips last year than any of the five years before.
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation's Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAAC) reports the agency's received 231 tips since 2014 related to suspicious activity.
Records show 65 of those tips came in 2019 -- up from 40 the year before. Suspicious behavior is defined as "observed behavior reasonably indicative of preoperational planning associated with terrorism or other criminal activity."
"Examples of suspicious activity include surveillance, photography of sensitive infrastructure facilities, site breach or physical intrusion, cyberattacks, testing of security, etc," SBI Public Information Director Anjanette Grube said.
SBI has said in recent years, its ISAAC team has helped prevent activity. While some tips went unfounded, others led to further investigation.
"When we receive a tip we vet the information and provide it to the proper jurisdiction for them to determine if further investigative action is warranted," Grube said. "Some have led to further investigative actions."
While records show some are reporting suspicious behavior to state agents, others like Veryan Khan are keeping tabs online.
"I'm the fly on the wall -- I watch," the editorial director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) said. "I monitor militant chatter online day in and day out."
Khan spends her days analyzing encrypted channels for private businesses and government agencies as part of her role with TRAC. The organization tracks terrorist chatter.
She said that chatter equates to daily threats.
"Of course you should be concerned, but this is nothing," Khan said. "I watch this day in and day out, thousands of different threats from thousands of different people."
A suicide bomber who blew himself up at Medan police headquarters in Medan, North Sumatra, on Wednesday, had pledged allegiance to a new Islamic State (IS) caliph (leader) before committing the attack, a global think tank has said.
Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) revealed the information through its Twitter account @TRACterrorism on Wednesday afternoon, citing the news spread by IS supporters on their Telegram channel as its source.
"Islamic State East Asia/Jamaah Ansharut Daulah supporters claim on Telegram that suicide bomber in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, pledged to new Caliph last night before the attack," the tweet said.
The TRAC is a group providing researchers in terrorism studies, international relations and other relevant fields with data and analysis about ─ among other things ─ terror attacks in the world.
Telegram, a highly encrypted messaging service, has been a favored medium and widely used by terrorist organizations to spread their propaganda and recruit members, terrorism analysts have said.
The browser version of the messaging app was blocked by the government for its rampant use among local terrorists in July 2017. However, after Telegram reportedly agreed to create a system to filter out terrorism and radicalism-related content, the government restored full access to the app in August the same year.
SITE Intelligence Group, a US-based company that tracks the online activity of jihadist organizations, has also said on its Twitter account @siteintelgroup that the Medan suicide bomber was identified as an “IS Telegram user”.
The suicide bombing in Medan was the first that occurred in Indonesia following the death of former IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a raid by United States special forces in northwestern Syria in late October.
In an audio tape posted online days after Baghdadi’s death, the IS group warned the US to “beware vengeance [against] their nation and their brethren of infidels and apostates”, Reuters has reported.
The group also said in the tape that they had appointed Baghdadi’s successor, identified as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi.
Following the attack at Medan Police headquarters, which occurred at around 8:45 a.m. on Wednesday and injured six people, authorities have identified the suicide bomber as Medan resident Rabbial Muslim Nasution, aka Dedek.
The National Police said on Thursday that Rabbial had been exposed to terrorism through his wife, identified only as DA, who had "physically interacted" with a female terrorism convict currently detained in a penitentiary in Medan.
The police had identified DA as a member of the IS-linked Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) ─ a homegrown terror group that was behind multiple terror attacks in Indonesia ─ who actively communicated with other cells in other parts of the country through social media.
"The network seems to be planning an attack on Bali," National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said on Thursday.
DA was arrested in her home in Medan by personnel of the police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism squad following the attack on Wednesday.
Densus 88 had also reportedly arrested four alleged terrorists with suspected links to JAD, three of whom were arrested in Banten and one in Central Java, after the attack.
It is still unclear whether or not Rabbial was also a JAD member as the police said they were still investigating his affiliation.
A number of security analysts have suspected that the Medan suicide bombing was executed by IS supporters as a form of revenge for the death of Baghdadi, who had declared himself as caliph of all Muslims.
“We suspect that the terror attack was carried out by JAD or IS. The purpose was to avenge the death of IS leader [Baghdadi],” said Mohamad Nurzzaman, the head of the strategic study division at the country’s largest Islamic group Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) youth organization as quoted by NU Online.
15 August 2019 | Al Jazeera | News
White supremacy groups use encrypted social media applications to coordinate and bless attacks. What can be done to stop the violence?
Islamists with allegiance to the terrorist organization ISIS have released three new posters encouraging British and American Muslims to conduct lone wolf attacks on the British capital city of London and New York . One poster stands out: a suicide bomber stands with the burning Big Ben in the background. It carries the caption of “London attacks coming soon.” The picture of a burning Big Ben brings to the mind images of April’s Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris. The ISIS-affiliated groups at that time swiftly termed the disaster a symbol of “retribution and punishment.” They also warned western nations to “wait for the next.”
Another poster shows a terrorist wearing a mask and wielding a knife with a vista of New York at the bottom half. A rallying cry was printed at the same place like the London one, but with its content changed to “fight them in your country.” The urging in both the posters target the same demographic: susceptible American Muslims. Both the posters use a common tagline: “Just Terror.”
These propaganda posters were the brainchild of the Ash Shaff Media Foundation, an outlet known to be sympathetic to ISIS ideology. It was posted to social media by the terrorism watchdog Terror Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC). The Sri Lanka attack killed 200 people. ISIS-affiliated groups have also released a propaganda poster which celebrates the Easter Sunday Sri Lanka terrorist attacks. The attack, carried out by ISIS-affiliated extremists, pledged to make all enemies of Islam bleed full "rivers of unclean blood." The third poster displayed the eight jihadis above the Buddha, U.S. President Donald Trump, and Pope Francis- and all three are set alight.
The propaganda posters were created by the Ash Shaff Media Foundation - a pro-ISIS outlet and posted to Twitter by the Terror Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) - a terrorism watchdog.
The sight of Big Ben ablaze is reminiscent of images of last month's fire that destroyed the roof and spire of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, after which ISIS-affiliated groups released posters calling the disaster 'retribution and punishment' and telling western countries to 'Wait for the next'.
22 May 2019 | Brinkwire | News
ISIS posters depict Big Ben on fire and warn of ‘London attacks soon’
ISIS fanatics have released three new posters inciting lone wolf attacks on London and New York.
One poster depicts a suicide bomber standing in front of a burning Big Ben and is captioned with the warning: ‘London attacks coming soon’.
Another shows a masked terrorist wielding a knife above New York city and a rallying call for lone extremists to ‘fight them in your country’.
Both posters use ‘Just Terror’ as a tagline, while the threat to London appears alongside a quotation from the Koran’s At-Tawbah 5 – or the ‘Sword Verse’.
‘And when the sacred months have passed,’ it reads, ‘then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and beseige them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush’.
Conveniently excluded from the quote is the next verse: ‘If any of the idolaters seeks of thee protection, grant him protection till he hears the words of God; then do thou convey him to his place of security.’
The final poster states: ‘Remember O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion…
‘Allah will bring forth in place of them a people he will love and who will love him… who are humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers… they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic.
‘That is the favor of Allah, he bestows it upon whom he wills. And Allah is all encompassing and knowing.’
The propaganda posters were created by the Ash Shaff Media Foundation – a pro-ISIS outlet and posted to Twitter by the Terror Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) – a terrorism watchdog.
The sight of Big Ben ablaze is reminiscent of images of last month’s fire that destroyed the roof and spire of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, after which ISIS-affiliated groups released posters calling the disaster ‘retribution and punishment’ and telling western countries to ‘Wait for the next’.
ISIS-affiliated groups also released a propaganda poster celebrating the Sri Lanka terror attacks on Easter Sunday, which promised to make the ‘enemies of religion’ bleed ‘rivers of unclean blood’.
The image showed the eight jihadi attackers above Donald Trump, Pope Francis and Buddha on fire.
It was captioned: ‘We will not make you cry of blood, enemies of religion and the first of the clouds shall fall upon the rivers of your unclean blood.’
ISIS claimed responsibility for the Sri Lanka attacks, which killed more than 250 people in churches and hotels in the capital Colombo.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As a gunman sparked terror at UNC Charlotte last month, killing two students and injuring four others, terrorists on the other side of the world celebrated the university's misfortune in real-time, according to Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium Editorial Director, Veryan Khan.
"Islamic State picked up on it before the national news did," Khan said. "They knew about the Charlotte incident as people in North Carolina were hearing about it."
Khan spends her days monitoring encrypted channels as part of her role with the TRAC, an organization that tracks terrorist chatter. She said an Indonesian media house, unofficially linked to the Islamic State, shared a video of the shooting aftermath, along with early details of the UNC Charlotte shooting that night.
Khan said the sharing of that information doesn't mean terrorists are planning an attack of their own here, but it does signal Islamic State supporters are paying attention to Charlotte. In addition, she said Islamic State groups pay particular attention to school shootings.
"This kind of thing is on their radar, school shootings and most likely Charlotte itself, because what's about to happen here," she said referencing the 2020 Republican National Convention in Charlotte.
Khan said this isn't the first time a terrorist group's used Charlotte's loss as its gain. She cited the 2016 riots and the death of Billy Graham as other examples.
As for the UNC Charlotte shooting, police said a former student was behind the attack, not a terrorist group. Still, Khan said that didn't stop some terrorists from using the events to help build their Anti-American cause.
"To espouse their cause, gain more followers, yay something bad happened in the United States," she said of the group's reasoning. "They cater to Islamic State followers."
Kieno speaks to Jasmine Opperman, [former] SA Director of TRAC (Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium) about the reportedly more than 20 South African women and children in camps in war-stricken Syria.
A truck bomb attack on a bus carrying members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, killed 27 Guards and wounded 13 others in the southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan Province on Wednesday, according to Iranian media reports.
The Guards, part of the elite branch of Iran's armed forces, were traveling a 100-mile mountainous route from the city of Khash to the provincial capital of Zahedan, when they came under attack, reports Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, citing a statement from the Revolutionary Guards.
The group's Quds Force unit said the United States, its allies and Zionism shared responsibility for the attack, without elaborating on the claim.
06 February 2019 | Rogue Media Labs | Investigative Report
Investigative Report: United Cyber Caliphate & Islamic State Making Returns To The Hacking Scene In 2019?
United Cyber Caliphate in 2019, and the groups listed by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) only tell half the story. The other groups fighting for control of the group are not related to or with these people, instead comprising of various independent Muslim hackers once affiliated with other groups – though primarily AnonGhost. Consequentially enough, they are far less extremist than the groups published by TRAC and there are far less of them, though its suspected that they are much more skilled.
Ahlu Sunnah wa Jamaah is Arabic for “people of the Sunnah community”.
The group is also locally referred to as Al Shabab (The Youth), even though it has no connections with the Somali movement of the same name. It was essentially formed as a religious sect in 2015 by the followers of the late Kenyan cleric Aboud Rogo Mohammed.
‘Blacklisted’ by the US and the UN for allegedly supporting Somalia's Al Shabab militants, Mohammad was shot dead allegedly by Kenyan security forces. After his death, his followers left Kenya and eventually settled in Cabo Delgado.
Reports from the region show that the group has a strict interpretation of Islam with its Salafi creed and challenges the traditional Sufi strain of Islam prevalent in the region. The members of the group allegedly advocate for the establishment of a Sharia state.
But little more is known about if there is an organic connection between the group’s ideological stance and its motivation to prompt violence. Ahlu Sunnah wa Jamaah has divulged little about itself and has not yet made any confirmed public demands.
Jasmine Opperman, [former] Africa director for the Terrorism, Research and Analysis Consortium told TRT World: “The lack of precise information implies that a motivation for attacks remains speculative.’’
Veryan Khan, editorial director at the U.S.-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, agreed that the video appears authentic because the location depicted is consistent with Afghanistan’s topography, however, too many faces are blurred out to say they are all Bangladeshi.
Khan said the video was passed around all the official al-Qaeda channels on August 25 and only had 730 views in the first days, which is not very popular by Telegram video standards.
“But that could be because it was posted in Bengali, which not all al-Qaeda fans can read,” she told The Defense Post.
The Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium has pointed out on numerous occasions that just because an act is terrifying it does not mean it is a terrorist attack. It’s an important distinction because labelling every horrific act as terrorism undermines the process of eliminating potential new threats.
It is too early to tell whether firebombs planted in Woolworths outlets in Durban malls bear the hallmarks of a terrorist attack.
An “incendiary device” found hidden in the Woolworths store in the Gateway mall on Saturday - the second in as many days - forced a complete evacuation of the shop. The device - a cell phone attached to a short length of white PVC pipe - was found hidden among new cushions.
Jasmine Opperman‚ the Africa Director for the Terrorism‚ Research and Analysis Consortium‚ said that a knee-jerk reaction that urban terror was at the heart of this string of attacks was dangerous.
In local media reports, the attackers are usually described as radical Muslims, and their organisation goes by several names: al-Sunnah wa Jama’ah, Swahili Sunna or al‑Shabab, although there are no formal links with the Somali militants of the same name.
But little more is known about the armed group or its motivations, or what may have prompted the sudden spate of violence. There have been no verified public statements or claims of credit for attacks.
Not everyone is convinced that this new Mozambican group is the next al-Shabab or Boko Haram, however. Jasmine Opperman, [former] Africa director for the Terrorism, Research and Analysis Consortium, said: “Attributing attacks in Mozambique, accompanied by beheadings and arson, to ‘Shabab’ cells elicits unanswered questions: Who are the actors? What are their objectives? What extremist ideology is at play?
The United Kingdom has reaffirmed its March 9 travel advisory for its citizens living or visiting South Africa, which not only included a warning about listeriosis but warned of “likely” terror attacks.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners, such as shopping areas in major cities. The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL),” the advisory warned.
“News reports suggest that a number of South African nationals have travelled to Syria, Iraq and Libya. They are likely to pose a security threat on their return. There’s also a threat from individuals who may have been inspired by terrorist groups… to carry out so called ‘lone actor’ attacks targeting public places including where foreigners may gather.”
It was a warning not to be taken lightly, even if the State Security Agency has remained quiet on the matter, warned terrorism expert Janine Opperman. Religious extremism in SA, although in its infancy, was a ticking time bomb, Opperman said.
“We have a history of extremism, no one can deny that,” she added.
“But we are in an evolutionary phase in South Africa. The last message from the Islamic State to supporters in South Africa was simply, ‘Expand the footprint. That’s all we are asking from you’.”
She noted it wouldn’t be easy as there was no violent extremist jihadi culture present in SA. However, this did not isolate local communities.
“Violence does not play a role in the narrative when they go out to recruit. In all the cases I have worked with, only one incident occurred where violence played a role and that was unintentionally,” said Opperman.
“SA is being exposed to this world, we’ve seen it in Mozambique with the alShabaab cult were there was some sort of radicalisation. The government claimed the group has been defeated. However, it regrouped and launched an attack last week.”
Opperman believes Port Elizabeth is a hotbed for IS and al-Qaeda activity.
More than 1,100 people, mostly militants, were killed during the five months of clashes in Marawi between troops and militant groups which had pledged loyalty to IS. They had wanted to create a regional caliphate in the city but their attempt failed.
The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium told FMT that based on chatter on IS-related communication channels, at least 30 Malaysians had been fighting in Marawi.
After the Marawi war ended, many of these Malaysian fighters were accounted for, including Sabahan Amin Baco, now touted to be one of several candidates vying for IS regional leadership after the death of its emir, Isnilon Hapilon.
Macleod believes Malaysian militants fighting in southern Philippines, like their counterparts in the Middle East, could also be unwilling to return home.
“Given the relative lawlessness in the southern Philippines, any remaining Malaysian fighters in Marawi are likely to stay put there, safe in the knowledge that their chances of capture are vastly reduced there,” Macleod told FMT.
27 November 2017 | Free Malaysia Today | News
Malaysian likely leader for regional IS
Revelation by Malaysian police that the Sabahan Amin Baco is Isnilon’s son-in-law makes him the stronger candidate as new IS emir for the region.
Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), which monitors hundreds of IS-linked communication channels, said it detected chatter about the group at least two weeks before the end of the Marawi siege.
Later, a security official said the authorities were investigating reports that a group of more than 100 militants, including “Caucasian-looking foreigners” and fighters from Malaysia and Indonesia, had arrived in southern Philippines after having trained in Indonesia.
“Rumours about a huge flow of jihadists trained in Malaysia and Indonesia were going around everyday.
“During August/September, in skirmishes in south-west of Lanao del Sur province, there were reports about a new group, consisting of Malaysians and Filipinos, who may have a totally new and unknown emir,” said Wójcik.
It has always been said, according to Wójcik, that IS central holds the main wheel when it comes to appointing its leadership in overseas wilayats or regions.
“After meeting their demands of allegiance, such as establishing a shura council, structure of command, unified leadership and gathering the groups who are likely to join them, IS checks the capability of the leadership of a wilayat or the Southeast Asian region because Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are treated as a whole despite each of them having an emir,” he explained.
“We have had many cases in which IS central intervened and established the best possible leadership they could find in the area, either via their envoys or experienced jihadists, such Isnilon Hapilon in East Asia, supported by Malaysian Mahmud Ahmad (whose body was found and confirmed by former hostages and the military).
“There are at least three cases where IS directly changed or demanded some stability, most notably in Nigeria, Yemen and Afghanistan.”
IS has lost its strongholds in Iraq and Syria but Wójcik believes they will relocate and reestablish contact with their overseas regions.
“IS is just about to hit the desert, but the thing is they are already running a strong insurgency that possesses safe havens in Diyala and Salahuddin in Iraq.
“Based on this, we can say that they have already relocated or are about to relocate some of their commanding centres to the said provinces.
“Hence, it won’t be difficult for them to regain their communication with overseas regions.”
Michael Quinones, TRAC’s research associate, said Amin now has the perfect history and experience to be the new leader.
“Amin Baco has the perfect history and experience to be emir as he was a major contributor to the tri-country (Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines) jihadist network linked to (Indonesian group) Jemaah Islamiyah and Al-Qaeda,” he told FMT.
“He was high-profile and most wanted, well before he helped fund and execute the Marawi siege.”
09 November 2017 | Philippine Canadian Inquirer | News
PETALING JAYA: Analysts are divided over the possibility of Malaysian militant Mohd Amin Baco being the new leader of the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Southeast Asia.
Philippine police chief Ronald de la Rosa on Monday said, based on information from a captured Indonesian terrorist last week, the Sabahan was alive and leading the pro-Islamic State stragglers in the war-torn southern Philippine city of Marawi.
The police chief also said the seasoned militant had been made the IS emir for the region.
However, the Philippine military believe Amin has been killed and have launched a search for his body.
An analyst with Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) said it made sense that Amin was the new leader.
“He is the last of the inner circle of the early Marawi planners and had joined (slain IS emir for Southeast Asia) Isnilon Hapilon in 2014,” Michael Quinones told FMT.
He said the leader of IS East Asia would have to be a Marawi siege leader.
This is instead of choosing Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Furuji Indama in Basilan or Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters leader Esmael Abdulmalik in the Ligusan marshland.
Veryan Khan, editorial director of TRAC, agreed with Quinones’ opinion on the possibility of Amin becoming the new IS leader for expediency in the field.
“More likely, those still left in the militant group in Marawi claimed him as the new leader,” she said.
“Amin will be a clear contender for an actual designation by IS Central if he survives.”
Another analyst had a different opinion on the prospect of Amin leading the terror group in the region.
Sydney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (Ipac), said Amin might have been made the leader of the militants in Marawi but this did not make him the Southeast Asia emir of IS.
She said Amin might have temporarily assumed leadership of the stragglers in Marawi, “but you can’t extrapolate from that and say that somebody is emir”.
“I’m not sure on what basis the police chief made that statement. I don’t think we have any evidence to support that.”
More than 900 militants, 145 security personnel and 47 civilians were killed in the five-month standoff in Marawi which began on May 23.
Amin is a native of Tawau and a member of the outlawed movement Darul Islam Sabah — a faction that emerged after Indonesia’s Darul Islam split from Jemaah Islamiah in 1993.
The group is said to have facilitated the passage of terrorists and firearms between the two countries.
In 1999, Amin was among the men from the Tawau cell of the Darul Islam Sabah sent to Ambon, Indonesia, where he used the alias “Hassan”.
He underwent training in Mangkutana in South Sulawesi, Indonesia in 2000 before transferring to Pendolo where “jihadis from several organisations had camps”, an Ipac report said.
In Malaysia, Amin was listed among the most wanted in 2010. He left Malaysia to join the Abu Sayyaf group, whose pro-IS faction was led by Isnilon.
He married into a family in Jolo, Sulu, in southern Philippines. His father-in-law is Hatib Sawadjaan, one of the sub-commanders of Abu Sayyaf leader Radullon Sahiron, Ipac said.
25 October 2017 | Philippine Canadian Inquirer | News
A report by Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) stated that the Philippines has the most Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacks outside Iraq and Syria.
TRAC’s Considering Claimed Attacks: Islamic State’s Hidden Narrative report cited that from May 20 to September 22, there was a total of 222 ISIS-claimed terror attacks worldwide. Ninety-nine were in the Philippines.
“Islamic State East Asia (ISEA)/Philippines handily won the title of most effective IS franchise over Summer 2017 with roughly the same amount of claims (99) as all other countries combined (122),” the report said.
Following the Philippines are Afghanistan and Egypt that had 43 and 33 claims, respectively.
“Claims in Philippines alone took the Islamic State brand to a new level of perceived global capabilities and effectiveness,” the report also stated.
TRAC said that this is most likely due to the five-month Marawi siege that started on May 23 and ended on October 23. Of the 99 claims in the country, 70 are from Marawi City.
“As Mosul [in Iraq] was lost and Raqqa [in Syria] encircled, Marawi became both a beacon and an option for IS supporters globally,” the report read.
According to TRAC, all strategies and operations came from native Filipinos and Malaysians based in the South Philippines, but “IS central provided some fighters and funding as well as instruction via tactics of urban warfare.”
“The Marawi could have happened without an IS in ash Sham, though it would not have happened without the inspiration of Caliphate. Also it would not have been nearly as effective,” it said.
The report further said that the Marawi siege was a testament of the ISIS’ power in its global communications network, and at the same time the siege proved ISIS’ dependence on local groups and conditions.
“The future of the IS brand in the Philippines depends largely on the locals – the interests and aspirations of both the Muslim public and entrenched power brokers, such as autonomous MILF commanders,” TRAC said.
The report compared the rapid increase of ISIS attack claims this year to the May 20-September 22, 2016 data, in which the Philippines only got a total of six. There were zero claims in May 20-September 22, 2015.
TRAC is a digital intelligence repository that provides researchers in the fields of terrorism studies, political science, international relations, sociology, criminal justice, philosophy, and history with content that provides comprehensive data and analysis for complex topics.
The global think tank tallied in its "Considering Claimed Attacks: Islamic State's Hidden Narrative" report that of 222 ISIS-claimed terror attacks around the globe in the last 5 months, 99 occurred in the Philippines.
TRAC counted from May 20 to September 22, 2017. The Philippines is trailed by Afghanistan (43 claims), and Egypt (33 claims) in the list of 21 countries attacked by ISIS.
All the Philippine attacks claimed by the international terror group happened in Mindanao, save for one – the Resorts World Manila shooting.
Of the terror attacks in southern Philippines, 70 happened in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur, where a 5-month war against homegrown terrorists had just been won by government forces. (READ: The war in Marawi: 153 days and more)
The report noted that the Philippines saw a sharp increase through the years in ISIS-claimed attacks: ISIS did not claim any attacks in the same period in 2015, and claimed only 6 in 2016.
Most of the assaults claimed by ISIS, the report noted, are encounters in the Marawi battle area which varied from sniping a soldier to initiating a jailbreak.
"Claims in Philippines alone took the Islamic State brand to a new level of perceived global capabilities and effectiveness," the report read.
The study pointed out that since the ISIS has begun retreating in Mosul and Raqqa in Iraq and Syria, respectively, Marawi has become a "beacon and option for [ISIS] supporters globally."
The Marawi siege, the report said, was a product of effective ISIS globalization and the proactivity of local terrorist groups.
“For the siege of Marawi, [ISIS] central provided some fighters and funding as well as instruction via tactics of urban warfare. But all strategies and operations came from native Filipinos and Malaysians based in the South Philippines,” the report read.
"Therefore, Marawi was at once a testament to the power of the ISIS global communications network in its own right, and at the same time, a prime example of ISIS dependence on local groups and conditions," the report reads.
"The future of the ISIS brand in the Philippines depends largely on the locals – the interests and aspirations of both the Muslim public and entrenched power brokers, such as autonomous [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] commanders," it added. – Rappler.com
'The [Islamic State] narrative for Indonesians was to do hijrah in the Philippines, not commit attacks at home,' states a report by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
MANILA, Philippines – The Islamic State (ISIS) was so preoccupied with what was happening in Marawi City, that it neglected terror attacks in Indonesia.
A report by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) on the "Islamic State's Hidden Narrative" found that in terrorists' circles, all eyes were on the Philippines, which affected terrorist activity in neighboring Indonesia.
"The [ISIS] narrative for Indonesians was to do hijrah in the Philippines, not commit attacks at home," stated the report released on Tuesday, October 24.
"Dozens of Indonesians found their way to Marawi as part of a longtime jihadi pipeline that includes Malaysia."
The events in Marawi City significantly overshadowed activity in the rest of the region, so much so that even the terror attacks that were carried out in Indonesia were belatedly claimed by ISIS. (WATCH: Marawi in 360: Inside the war zone)
Last Saturday, the same day that a truck bomb obliterated several city blocks in Mogadishu, al-Shabab retook the town of Bariire, just 50km to the south of the capital.
It had been captured by Somali government forces in August but, just two months later, the government soldiers pulled out, supposedly for “tactical reasons”, leaving al-Shabab in control once again.
The incident underscored al-Shabab’s resilience. Despite years of conflict, it remains a potent military and political force, able to occupy territory and launch terror attacks in the heart of government-held areas.
But the latest terror attack — which al-Shabab has yet to claim credit for, although there is little doubt among government officials and terrorism experts about its complicity — may have been a strategic error. What was intended to be a show of strength may turn into a new weakness.
For years, al-Shabab’s sophisticated propaganda has positioned it as the protector of Somali people against the evils of foreign agents and a corrupt government. But as the death toll from Saturday’s attack continues to rise — at least 276 people were killed — that argument becomes difficult to sustain.
On Wednesday, thousands participated in huge demonstrations in Mogadishu staged in solidarity with the victims of the attack. “We are demonstrating against the terrorists that massacred our people,” said Halima Abdullahi, who lost six of her relatives in the attacks.
The demonstration was described by some observers as the largest-ever public protest against al-Shabab, and a sign that, this time, al-Shabab has gone too far.
“Al-Shabab has as yet not claimed credit for the attack and is also not likely to claim credit due to the mass casualties,” said Jasmine Opperman, Africa director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. “Current demonstrations in Mogadishu against the devastation will also reflect negatively on al-Shabab, countering attempts to expand its support base and create shadow government structures supported by local clan leaders and civilians.”
2012 – Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah form the Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao, also known as the Black Flag Movement, with the aim of forging an independent Mindanao.
April 2015 – the Maute Group pledges allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
February 20, 2016 – Maute fighters storm the Army’s 51st Infantry Battalion in Butig, Lanao Del Sur; two soldiers and six attackers are killed in the 11-day military offensive.
November 26, 2016 – Military clashes with the Maute group in Butig, leaving 11 of its members dead, and wounding two soldiers. Residents flee.
May 23, 2017 – Government troops clash with Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf and Maute group in Marawi City seeking to establish a caliphate in Mindanao, with Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon as its “emir”; President Rodrigo Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao to quell the “rebellion.”.
May 24, 2017 – Maute group abducts 14 hostages, including Fr. Teresito Soganub of the Catholic Church.
May 31, 2017 – Philippine government forces regain strategic control of Mapandi and Bayabao bridges that lead to the center of Marawi.
June 1, 2017 –11 soldiers are killed and seven others are wounded in friendly fire involving an airstrike directed at Maute terrorists.
June 6, 2017 – Government forces arrest Cayamora Maute, father of the leaders of Maute group, said to funding and supporting his sons’ terroristic activities.
June 12, 2017 – The government puts up the national flag in Marawi City to counter Maute’s black flag on Independence Day.
June 25, 2017 – The government declares a unilateral ceasefire on the occasion of Eid’l Fitr.
June 28, 2017 – Following weeks of armed conflict in Marawi, President Duterte, through Administrative Order 3, establishes “Task Force Bangon Marawi” to develop and implement a comprehensive rehabilitation and recovery program based on a post-conflict assessment of Marawi City and other affected areas.
August 22 – September 24, 2017 – government forces regain control over Maute-IS-dominated buildings: the Marawi City Police Station, the Grand Mosque, and several bridges.
October 16, 2017 – Hapilon and Omar Maute are killed in a pre-dawn military operation.
October 17, 2017 – The President announces the liberation of
Marawi from terrorists.
15 October 2017 | Rappler | Article by TRAC Analyst, Michael Quinones
On September 24, 2017, the Islamic State’s Al-Hayat Media released a video titled “Hijrah Will Not Cease” in which a Singaporean fighter “Abu Uqayl” beckoned the ISIS (Islamic State) faithful to do their duty and travel to East Asia, specifically highlighted as opposed to other destinations.
AFTERMATH. Smoke rises after aerial bombings by Philippine Air Force planes on Islamist militant positions in Marawi, on the southern island of Mindanao on June 6, 2017. Photo by Noel Celis / AFP
This is nothing new: since the Marawi siege that began on May 23 and continues today, the Philippines – known as Islamic State East Asia – has dominated ISIS media coverage (Western corporate media has largely ignored Marawi and its implications for IS globally). The Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) counted 99 attack claims (press releases) from Amaq Media Agency from late May to late September, more than twice the number of claims from any other country or region outside of Iraq and Syria during the same period. Indeed, nearly 70 claims came out of Marawi, which not only created the perception of an Islamic State East Asia, but reflected a true and tangible, highly capable ISEA fighting force.
While the battle for Marawi continues and Al-Hayat Media even released a special Nasheed for it on October 12, the last Amaq claim was on September 27. Three weeks is by far the longest dry spell since the first claim in May and reflects what TRAC calls the middle endgame period – the early endgame period began in August when claims were no longer released every 3 days or so.
New hijrah destination
As ISIS claims for attacks in Marawi dwindled in August, claims from other areas in the Philippines came out more frequently. Another group of jihadis, a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) called Jamaatul Mujahideen Wal Ansar (JMWA), were engaged in a series of clashes with the government-allied Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) roughly 250 kilometers south in eastern Maguindanao province. MILF went about dislodging JMWA from several enclaves (designated MILF peace zones) after the group raised the IS flag in Datu Salibo in early August. Islamic State media claimed 16 JMWA-based "Islamic State soldier" attacks purported to have more killed than 100 MILF fighters from August 2 to September 27.
Credible sources confirm what TRAC analysis discerned from ISIS claim trends: a post-Marawi Islamic State relocation to the MILF-and-BIFF-controlled areas of the Maguindanao-North Cotabato border (Mag-NC). The destination of the Islamic State’s jihadi pipeline is no longer Marawi city, where they have been funneling (or failing to funnel) fighters and bomb-makers since December 2016 if not before. Both militants from abroad and Maute members escaping from Marawi have found their way to the JMWA bases in Datu Salibo.
A joint operation of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the MILF Task Force Ittihad engaged JMWA on September 27. Reports coming out after AFP and MILF forces captured the JMWA base in Barangay Tee claimed 5 Iraqi nationals, 10 Singaporeans and an unspecified number of Malaysians and Indonesians were among a group of roughly 150 local and foreign fighters assembled in the area on 23 September to plot attacks.
The September 27 raid also confirmed a direct connection between the Maute Group in Marawi and BIFF-JMWA, which AFP spokesmen have since underlined. A senior member of the Maute Group was killed during the battle in Barangay Tee along with at least five other JMWA fighters. The slain Ansari Alimama, an ethnic Maranao from Butig, Lanao del Sur, was reportedly close to leaders Omar and Abdullah Maute.
JMWA an ISEA-inspired creation
Unlike the Maute Group, Abu Sayyaf and BIFF (but more like the defunct Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines), JMWA did not exist before ISEA. JMWA is run by Esmael Abdulmalik (aka Abu Toraife/Toraype) an influential cleric and skilled bombmaker said to be a student of infamous Malaysian bomber Marwan (Zulkifli bin Hir), killed in March 2015 along with 44 soldiers in the Mamasapano massacre, near Datu Salibo. Marwan also serves as a common link between Abdulmalik and the 3 Malaysians most responsible for shuttling fighters and funding to Marawi city, Darul Islam Sabah members Dr Mahmud Ahmad, Muhammad Joraimee Awang Raimee and Mohd Najib Husen – the latter two recently killed in Marawi.
Abdulmalik and several other clerics – Salahudin Hassan, Bashir Ungab, Nasser Adil and Ansari Yunos – broke away from the IS-linked BIFF Imam Bongos/Abu Mama Misry faction in October 2016. And yet reports suggest coordination between JMWA and its old BIFF crew as of late September 2017. At the same time that Iraqis and Singaporeans were entering Datu Salibo (23 September), the BIFF Bongos faction converged on a secluded barangay in nearby Guindulungan and engaged in firefights with several AFP detachments until they were dispersed by artillery fire. Also, while the raid on JMWA was occurring in Barangay Tee on September 27, two IED blasts were triggered along the road of an army training camp in nearby Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao, wounding a policeman, a soldier and two village officials. The attack was sophisticated in that the second bomb targeted responders to the first bomb. Indeed, security sources have noted that the BIFF Bongos faction is attempting to avenge comrades killed in the JMWA vs MILF war.
As recently as October 9, government forces conducting “anti-ISIS” operations against "20 IS-inspired BIFF" uncovered a cache of explosives, weapons and shabu (crystal methamphetamine) at the border of Talitay and Datu Anggal Midtimbang, Maguindanao, which surround Guindulungan town. It is worth noting how military-based media reports have begun to feed into the Islamic State narrative by referring to fighters not by BIFF factions but in terms of their ISIS affiliations.
The above suggests that through its media/propaganda wing, the Islamic State continues to unite foreign fighters and regional jihadi networks under one banner in Central Mindanao, even as the government has eliminated more than 600 fighters and re-asserted control in most of Marawi.
Destination: North Cotabato
Pushed out of out of their Maguindanao strongholds, Abdulmalik and his Islamic State allied cadre have moved toward Midsayap, North Cotabato, along the Mag-NC border. AFP detachments have been staking out BIFF lairs since late September when troops discovered a 60mm mortar in Talayan, Maguindanao, meant for transport to a BIFF operational base in Barangay Nabalawag, reportedly run by a Mando Mamalumpong (alias Commander DM).
On September 25, government forces in Nabalawag captured BIFF militant Muslimin Ladtugan (alias Commander Mus), connected to Abdulmalik and JMWA. Ladtugan is said to facilitate the movement of high-powered firearms and war materials, such as the 60mm artillery, for BIFF factions. Officials claim Ladtugan was planning a bombing spree to divert the AFP offensives in Maguindanao.
Security sources say troops, monitoring militant activity on September 28, discovered a temporary Islamic State base in Poblacion 7, Midsayap, ran by the Dilangalen clan, who are active in the nearby municipality of Pikit as well and have links to Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP) in South Cotabato and Sarangani.
On October 4, a 6-hour blackout occurred in areas of North Cotabato and Maguindanao due to the IED bombing of a key National Grid and Power Corporation (NGCP) tower near Carmen, North Cotabtao. The news headline “AFP considers Maguindanao and Cotabato as most threatened areas” ran on October 6 (UNTV News and Rescue) after military officials cited groups there involved in helping the Maute Group in Marawi. A security source claims to TRAC “the IS are gaining momentum in North Cotabato.”
On October 10, 3 soldiers were ambushed and injured in Nabalawag by “ISIS-inspired armed men” (as referred to by the Philippine News Agency).
The return of Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP)
In addition to the AKP connections of the Dilangalen clan in North Cotabato, on September 28 2017, Al-Khalifa Philippines (AKP) was reportedly conducting recruitment activities in Polomolok, South Cotabato. The group is operating in Sarangani Province and attempting to lure minors, reportedly through the Nilong family, longtime MILF members and training camp facilitators. However, this "AKP South" is said to consist of only 5 members.
In January 2017, after its leader and ideologue, Sarangani-based Mohammad Jaafir Sabiwang Maguid (alias Commander Tokboy) and other ranking members were killed in a police raids, the AKP lost its cohesiveness. It soon merged with the ISIS United Cyber Caliphate.
Zaidon Nilong was arrested on January 17, 2017, as a potential new leader of AKP. On February 10, he gave an interview to local media from the South Cotabato Provincial Jail. He was reported as [according to translation] “emotional in saying that he never dreamed to be the leader of the terrorist group such as al-Khilafah which he said is against the rules of Islam.”
The power of the Islamic State movement and banner to unite and mobilize an array of extremists and sympathizers in the Philippines should not be exaggerated. ISIS propagandists might not be the only ones with an interest in presenting the post-Marawi perception of a serious unified ISIS threat. It can also be used to justify martial law throughout Mindanao.
Marawi is a unique situation but has at least one clear lesson for those jihadis paying attention: The Islamic State helps those who help themselves by earning the right to use its propaganda machine for their own recruitment and organizing purposes.
The future of ISIS in Mindanao depends largely on one thing: reliable sanctuary. Sanctuary is guaranteed by winning either the support of the local community or the local elites – such as a MILF commander. Recently, after the clearing of the Islamic State group JMWA from Datu Salibo, authorities brought in Islamic theologians to de-radicalize those people who had been under the thumb of cleric Esmael Abdulmalik. The narrative framing of the Marawi siege-and-response among Muslims will likely play a big role in whether ISIS continues its toehold in Central Mindanao. – Rappler.com
Michael Quiñones is a Research Associate for TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium who specializes in jihadist activity in the Pacific Rim, Middle East and Turkey. TRAC is a digital intelligence repository on political violence and terrorism can be accessed at http://www.tracterrorism.org/ or follow us on Twitter at @TRACterrorism
In the immediate aftermath of the horrific Las Vegas mass shooting Sunday night, the terrorist group ISIS was quick to claim responsibility for the attack, and United States law enforcement officials were just as quick to dismiss the ISIS claims as false. Most terrorism experts agreed with law enforcement, saying that the massacre carried out by a 64-year-old multimillionaire retiree named Stephen Paddock matched few, if any, of the usual ISIS attack trademarks.
But on Wednesday, two top terrorism experts broke with the consensus of their colleagues, penning an article for the online news site, Daily Maverick, making a case that “the Islamic State in some way knew Stephen Paddock,” and the ISIS claim to be connected to the Las Vegas attack, which killed 58 and wounded more nearly 530, “can’t be ignored.”
The Daily Maverick is based in South Africa and models itself on such U.S.-based sites as The Huffington Post and Daily Beast. Read the entire article by Jasmine Opperman and Veryan Khan of the private Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium by accessing this link.
As of Wednesday, three days after the devastating attack, no hard evidence has emerged to link Paddock to ISIS in any way. In fact, most of the claims that the shooter, who was already “descending into madness” in the months leading up to the attack, according to an ABC News report, was an ISIS terrorist have been rapidly debunked as “fake news.”
Photo: Mourners pay tribute at a makeshift memorial on the Las Vegas Strip for the victims of a mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 02 October 2017. Photo: EPA-EFE/EUGENE GARCIA
The Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the Las Vegas mass shooting came as a surprise to many a counterterrorism analyst for one reason: it contradicted conventional stereotyping of the profile of an Islamic State-inspired or -directed attacker. But the Terrorism, Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) maintains that the Islamic State in some way knew Stephen Paddock.
Johannesburg - The Islamic State (Isis) is all but defeated in Iraq and Syria but the organisation is entering a new phase and has its eye on South Africa.
Lenasia and Mayfair are, according to one expert, places where Isis operatives are working to expand their footprint in the country, as the extremist organisation continues its goal of world domination.
Last week, Iraq’s Ambassador to South Africa, Saad Kindeel, warned that Isis fighters, originally from South Africa, were probably making their way home, and that the authorities should be on the lookout for them.
But Jasmine Opperman, a counter-terrorism expert at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, believes the returnees don’t pose a problem.
“South Africans who have returned have willingly agreed to co-operate with law and order departments so the likelihood of those returning to engage in behaviour or communication that will expose a continued link to extremism is unlikely,” she said.
However, while interviewing Isis loyalists in South Africa Opperman discovered that there was a directive instructing them not to make contact with the members returning from Iraq and Syria because it was known some were co-operating with law enforcement.
“We have active recruitment, we have active calls for expansion in South Africa, and that should be an overriding concern,” said Opperman.
“Are we seeing the initial phases of a jihadist culture evolving in South Africa? Yes.”
Opperman pointed out that the long game of Isis is world domination, which they want to accomplish in 100 years.
But as Western states improve their security and counter-security measures, Isis has begun searching for new areas in which to expand.
South African citizens are in the top 10 for nationalities targeted by terrorists.
South African citizens ranked among the top 10 nationalities in the world targeted by major terrorist groups, such as Islamic State (IS) of Iraq and Syria, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab and pirates, according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
Responding to The Citizen’s enquiry, ISS senior researcher specialising in counter-terrorism Martin Ewi said South Africans were increasingly targeted by terrorist organisations in Mali, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Syria and Iraq.
According to the ISS, the risk of kidnapping for South African citizens is particularly high in Somalia by pirates and al-Shabaab.
Ewi added that al-Qaeda and a new umbrella group called Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali, the Niger Delta Avengers and Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen as well as IS in Syria and Iraq were a serious danger to South Africans.
“At least 50 South Africans have been killed, kidnapped or injured by terrorist groups operating in these countries (Mali, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, Syria and Iraq) since 2010.
“South Africa is now believed to rank among the top 10 countries most attractive to terrorist or violent extremist groups in the world,” said Ewi.
In April, a South African was among five foreign construction workers kidnapped and later released in Nigeria, Ewi said.
Ewi added: “Notable recent cases of South Africans that have been liberated by their kidnappers, as a result of a negotiated agreement, escape, military rescue, or good gesture, include Bruno Pelizzari and Debbie Calitz in Somalia, captured in 2010 and released in 2012.”
According to reports, Pelizzari and Calitz had been sailing in the Indian Ocean when they were captured by pirates and kept in Somalia.
Ewi also mentioned the cases of Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were kidnapped in 2009 and released in 2010 after 400 days in captivity in Somalia; Pierre and Yolande Korkie were kidnapped in May 2013 in Yemen.
Yolande was released in January 2014, but Pierre was killed following a failed rescue operation in December 2014.
In January, the [former] director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, Jasmine Opperman, mentioned on Talk Radio 702 that South Africa had become a target for terrorism.
25 July 2017 | IONO.fm - RSG News | Interview
Gov't in Talks to Restore Access to Telegram
Jasmine Opperman, the [former] African director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, said de-alignment programs are a huge test for Western society. Hanri Wondergem spoke to her and compiled the report.
Veryan Khan, director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a digital intelligence repository for political violence and terrorism, said use of the app by Indonesians has been a big concern, especially after the middle of January this year, when the Amaq News Agency, the semi-official news site of the Islamic State extremist group, established a Telegram channel in the country.
"But it's really since the siege of Marawi City, now 55 days ago, that the amount of chatter among Indonesian-speaking IS supporters has been snowballing. It's hard to guess how many Indonesians are involved, but the topics are becoming more serious by the day," Khan told the Jakarta Globe.
What started as mere requests for on-the-ground information from inside Marawi City to be translated into Indonesian, has escalated to items such as long treatises, justifying targets, and images of people undergoing archery training that started to circulate, Khan added.
TRAC was one of the first institutions to identify a major shift in jihadis' communication methods from Twitter to Telegram in September 2015. During that time, TRAC saw tens of thousands of users migrate to Telegram as their first choice for communication.
"Today, it is hard to say, given the vast number of groups that participate all day long in roughly 13 different languages, but a good guess would be 20,000 to 30,000 in total," Khan said.
She added that the main ways to communicate on Telegram are channels, chat rooms, which can contain thousands of participants, and private conversations.
And as the world begins to confront terrorism, their basic need is to communicate to recruit more sympathizers online. Telegram's strong privacy and security are the primary attractions for potential users and the key reason for its widespread adoption.
Many believe jihadists are recruiting and expanding their work space by using the app to disseminate information on their doctrines for achieving their goal to establish a global Islamic caliphate.
The application boasts end-to-end encryption and it contains freely available open-source code. Telegram is so confident of its encryption that it has offered a $300,000 reward to the first person to crack it.
The "self-destruct" option is particularly useful to those who move around a lot and forget passwords or have limited use of the internet for extended periods. There are also privacy settings for each individual account that can either set messages to self-destruct after a certain time, such as "secret chats," or even accounts that self-destruct after a chosen period of inactivity.
In his latest statement, Dubrov said his company is no friend of terrorists and that it has joined the fight against terrorism by closing their channels and groups over the past few years.
Khan said many Telegram accounts are taken down every day, but the sheer number of channels available is hard to fathom for anyone who has never used the platform.
"From supporters creating their own channels and chatrooms, to official media channels run by IS, or AQ [Al Qaeda], or even the Taliban, there are literally thousands of channels, maybe even tens of thousands, at any given time, in multiple languages," said Khan of TRAC.
"Over the past six months, the new trend is to self-shutter a channel and let all your followers know where you are moving before it closes. Some official IS channels like Khilafah News move voluntarily as often as three to four times a day. Their supporters simply move with them, like changing channels on your TV," she said.
Blocking Telegram, is not going to be effective as IS constantly puts out manuals about cybersecurity for its supporters. The easiest way for a supporter to still use Telegram once it is banned is through a virtual private network, or VPN, as these are inexpensive and effectively conceal a user's location.
"I am not sure how many of the Indonesian non-super fans know this, because TRAC has seen a lot of chatter over the upcoming ban from Indonesian supporters who seem increasingly worried that they are going to lose their connection to IS propaganda and communications with like-minded IS supporters in East Asia. And yes, there are plenty of other ways to communicate in secret. It is just that those are all usually one-on-one conversations, not entire chat rooms full of people," she said.
In his apology to Rudiantara, Dubrov said Telegram has been working hard to block any terrorism-related chats. However, Khan believes it is unlikely that Telegram will open its data to any government, as its main claim to fame is privacy.
"Many other governments have asked for a back channel into the application; that has been flatly refused," Khan said.
Indonesia is not the first country to ban and raise concern over Telegram. The app was also blocked in Oman and some Gulf states over the past two years, while Britain and Australia have frequently voiced concern over the app for its tight security, which they say involves safety risks.
17 July 2017 | Rappler | Article by TRAC Analyst, Michael Quinones
NEW YORK – At 5:30 am on May 25, 2017 in the Pakitul area of Sulu, Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) militants opened fire on the Philippine troops sent to search for them. A military spokesman reported 11 soldiers wounded, with one dying from his injuries. That day the Islamic State (ISIS) caliphate-run Amaq News Agency released a statement on Telegram claiming ISIS fighters killed 10 soldiers on Sulu, including 4 officers.
This was the first attack on Sulu ever claimed Islamic State. First, by the quasi-official Islamic State media outlet “Amaq" and the official ISIS statement confirmed the Amaq claim later in their Rumiyah (“Rome”) magazine, both distributed on Telegram channels.
Why is this significant?
It is the conventional wisdom among analysts that the Abu Sayyaf Group, since 2014’s ISIS caliphate declaration, had splintered into a pro-ISIS faction – the Basilan contingent led by Isnilon Hapilon – and a Sulu-based, locally-focused faction, tethered to ASG cofounder and figurehead Radullon Sahiron. Back in September 2016, an attack in Basilan was claimed by ISIS and reprinted in Rumiyah’s premiere issue. It wouldn’t be until the magazine’s 10th issue that Sulu received the same recognition.
ISIS-designated emir Isnilon Hapilon, in a photo in Rumiyah magazine's 10th issue. Photo courtesy TRAC
As Victor Taylor of Canada’s Mackenzie Institute has written for MindaNews, ASG Sulu is made up of loosely linked groups nominally under the gaze of Sahiron, who has not welcomed foreign fighters. Taylor notes what TRAC and other ASG watchers have concluded: that Sulu groups sometimes mimic the stereotypical ISIS imagery for their videos and use ISIS flags, but this, “is more a part of the negotiating tactics adopted when demanding ransom payments, rather than an indication of affiliation with ISIS.”
Sulu ASG, a triple threat
If any faction (or group of subfactions) is more infamous, successful and dangerous, it is the non-ISIS-linked Sulu bandits.
ASG Sulu groups do not need ISIS backing due to their booming kidnapping-for-ransom trade and local support. They have earned their fearsome reputation by beheading foreign nationals and seajacking the vessels of various countries (they still hold nearly two dozen hostages). And they can fight on land as well: In April, an attempt by Philippine Army to rescue Vietnamese hostages on Sulu ended with “32 wounded soldiers” according to officials, which likely means at least several died.
All that said, since the Basilan ASG under ISIS-designated emir Isnilon Hapilon joined with the Maute Group began the Marawi City siege, their Islamic State East Asia/Philippines franchise (ISEA) has overshadowed Sulu on the international stage. Rumiyah magazine issue 10 was dedicated to ISEA, including an interview with Hapilon.
Another ISIS Sulu claim
The July 8, 2017 claim for the Sulu attack. Image courtesy TRAC
The May 25 IS Sulu claim was not a fluke. A second Amaq statement, claiming a mortar attack against the Philippine army in the same area of Pakitul, Sulu, was released on June 8 and disseminated in Rumiyah 11 on Telegram just last week (13 July). Coming in the middle of the whopping 48 claims from ISIS caliphate media since the Battle of Marawi began on May 23, the two Sulu claims were subtle and easily missed. However, these two Sulu claims are critical to understand how ISIS in East Asia is changing and refortifying.
As Isnilon Hapilon and ISEA have gained global attention and cemented the Islamic State brand in the Philippines, the emir’s influence might have brokered the consolidation of the Abu Sayyaf Group under the Islamic State banner, merging at least some local armed groups with the international movement. In his Rumiyah interview, Hapilon stated the biggest problem for the Muslims of the Mindanao archipelago was their factionalism and lack of unity.
ASG Sulu losing leaders
Aside from the Marawi siege, which Hapilon orchestrated, there is another reason the timing is right for an ASG Sulu shift toward the Islamic State: Aging ASG cofounder Radullon Sahiron has opened talks with the Philippine government to turn himself in. Sahiron long distrusted foreign fighters and did not need foreign funds due to a lucrative KFR trade. Still on the run, he is pressured by a Philippine Army campaign on Sulu, Basilan and Tawi-Tawi islands since January following President Duterte’s promise to wipe out ASG in 6 months.
Sahiron reportedly would make a deal with Manila on the condition that he not be turned over to the United States, which has a $1 million bounty on his head.
Muammar Askali connection
Muammar Askali aka Abu Rami. Image courtesy TRAC
News of Sahiron possible capitulation came on the heels of the April 2017 death of Sulu subcommander and spokesman Muammar Askali (aka Abu Rami) in a firefight during an ambitious but failed raid in the Bohol region.
Reportedly close to Hapilon and trained by the infamous Malaysian bomb-maker Marwan (Zulkifli bin Hir), Askali pledged allegiance to ISIS but still remained close to Sahiron. Notorious for the kidnapping and beheading of foreign nationals, including a German sailor in February 2017, he was another important link between local families on Sulu (where his uncle was a Moro National Liberation Front leader) and the Pacific Rim jihadists from Malaysia and Indonesia converging in the region. There are reports he was being groomed to replace Sahiron as Sulu chief.
After the Bohol attack became a media spectacle for its representative threat to northern Philippine tourist spots, the government stepped up the military campaign on Sulu. Another Askali associate and bomb-maker, Alhabsy Misaya, was shot down in Sulu. ASG militants on Basilan and Tawi-Tawi islands are reported to be surrendering in droves due to Army pressure.
There are doubtless many connections among ambitious jihadis on Sulu with those from Mindanao to Malaysia; yet these new claims speak to stronger, more formal ties among groups.
The merging of ASG Sulu crews with the official media houses of the “Khilafah” (not to mention the legions of ISIS fans on social media) could act as a force multiplier for both in international propaganda, recruitment and resources. It is a significant win for those such as Hapilon and the Mautes who have been trying to unite all South Philippines Muslim insurgents under the ISIS banner and create a beacon of jihad in the region.
ASG Sulu could use more foreign fighters to swell its ranks and more sanctuaries to escape to. As Islamic State East Asia struggles to establish itself, any increase in cooperation from Sulu or coordinated attacks across the Mindanao archipelago would further sap the strength of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and embarrass Manila. – Rappler.com
Michael Quinones is a Research Associate who specializes in jihadist activity in the Pacific Rim, Middle East and Turkey for TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. TRAC is a digital intelligence repository on political violence and terrorism and can be accessed at . Follow us on Twitter at @TRACterrorism
16 June 2017 | Talk Radio | Op-Ed
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi 'killing' could help Isis live on
Earlier today the world’s newslines lit up with claims from Russia that they may have killed Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the reviled leader of Islamic State.
If the reports are true, the death would be a serious blow to Isis morale. However the claims must be treated with a significant degree of caution - both because the news is fiendishly hard to prove and because there's no guarantee this would damage Isis.
TRAC has no way of verifying the Russians’ claims, without the body of the leader being presented. No-one does. But one can look at similar cases in the recent past, and these tell us that Isis has never hesitated to declare a leader dead, no matter how senior. By making these declarations, the jihadists can martyr the leaders with posters and fan-generated photo montages.
This article aims to provide insight into three pillars that facilitate extremist pathways into terror attacks – the meta-narrative in propaganda, directing behaviour into action and the complex network of associations behind attacks.
The recent attacks in the UK (London Bridge and Borough Market on 3 June 2017 and Manchester Arena at a concert by Ariana Grande in May) as well as the attack at the Resorts World in Manila, Philippines (June 2017) raises a question on how the Islamic State thrives in finding a willingness to execute attacks. This article aims to provide some insight into three important pillars that facilitate extremist pathways into terror attacks, namely the meta-narrative in propaganda (the story sold to supporters), directing behaviour into action and then the complex network of associations behind attacks showing an Islamic State not only dependent on the proclivity of lone individuals.
The rise of al-Shabaab parallels the declining capacity of Boko Haram to maintain territorial control, which has been further exacerbated by mounting military pressure from the Nigerian government and an internal split into two factions.
“We have seen Boko Haram in a declining capability to gain such ‘control’ and relying on, for example, more suicide bombers,” said Jasmine Opperman, the director of Southern Africa Operations at Terrorism, Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
The Marawi siege had left more than 100 dead as of May 29, according to the Philippine armed forces: 65 Maute rebels, 17 soldiers, three police officers and 19 civilians.
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a think tank specializing in political violence, the Maute group was founded by brothers Abdullah and Omarkhayam Romato. They began as petty criminals and became full-fledged terrorists when they founded Khalifa Islamiyah Mindanao in 2012.
Jasmine Opperman, director of the Terrorism and Research Analysis Consortium, said the seriousness of the allegations can’t be underplayed, but it has been clear from the beginning that the accused was acting as an individual with his own motives and there was no evidence yet to back up claims that he was attempting a coup.
“It is clear the Hawks have overplayed the issue,” she said.
28 April 2017 | Talk Radio | Op-Ed
Are Isis and al-Qaeda really about to kiss and make up?
The speech released by Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s leader, ideologue and commander-in-chief, on April 23 2017 contained several key messages, from wearing down the enemy with guerrilla war to not being obsessed with holding territory, and onto the dangers of nationalism.
By VERYAN KHAN
28 April 2017 | Herald Live | News
‘Coup plotter’ has answer to SA’s problems
Jasmine Opperman, [former] director of southern Africa operations at the Terrorism, Research and Analysis Consortium, said she was skeptical about the plot – based on limited information available.
Speaking on Cape Talk radio, Opperman said: “I have heard of lone wolf terrorism. I have never heard of a lone wolf coup attempt.”
She said coup plots usually involved a group structure.
“If they were serious in actually executing a coup, would they openly go on social media and go and ask, or via letters, for funding from players outside the country? It does not make sense.”
Opperman, citing previous discredited government “intelligence reports”, questioned whether the timing of the bust did not form part of a “conspiracy mind-set” to divert attention away from civil society demanding that Zuma step down.
28 April 2017 | Huffington Post South Africa | News
"Coup Plot" Statement By Hawks Questioned
The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium's Jasmine Opperman told Eye Witness News that it was strange that only one person appeared to be involved.
"If they are groups they should have structure, they should have members – why then only one arrest? Secondly, if they were serious in executing a coup, would they go social media or give out letters asking for funding?" she said.
The suspects are due to appear in court on Friday.
Why would somebody plotting a coup openly ask for funding is one of the questions raised about an alleged assassination plot uncovered by the Hawks.
Jasmine Opperman‚ [former] director of southern Africa operations at the Terrorism‚ Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) was sceptical about the plot — based on limited information available about it on Thursday.
The recent announcement by President Jacob Zuma of a Cabinet reshuffle was persistently justified on the premise of a so-called “intelligence report” that contained information on subversive plans against government, named Operation Check Mate. Beyond the wide-ranging responses, an important aspect remains to be addressed: Does an intelligence report equate with “the truth”? No – and even when suggesting facts, the facts merely apply to a specific truth among many.
“Mere ‘fans' prefer more mainstream outlets to spread news, propaganda, videos etc. They often chatter among each other on best practices and spreading of how-to manuals. Once someone gets serious about taking action on their rhetoric, the conversations go private,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a private firm that collects information on terrorism.
Even if law enforcement were able to gain access to keys to unlock encrypted message, it’s not clear how long it would help, said Khan of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
Al-Qaeda and ISIS supporters are highly adaptive and once a new communication tool becomes less secure they simply move on. “It is my opinion that closing one area simply makes them harder for us to monitor potential new threats,” she said.
16 March 2017 | Talk Radio | News
Conspiracy of Fire Cells: Who are the Greek militants claiming Paris IMF bomb?
The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium claims the organization first surfaced in 2008, sending 11 bombs to banks and luxury car dealerships - thereby targeting the wealthy 'fat cats' who bore much of the popular frustration at Greece's financial plight.
The LNA, led by General Khalifa Haftar, and aligned with Libya’s House of Representatives, has been fighting the Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB) faction in the Oil Crescent since the beginning of March, forcing it to retake the oil ports from a rival faction for the second time in less than a year.
The BDB claims to have no alliances, but is widely thought to be a radical Islamist faction. The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium lists the BDB as an Islamist group formed in opposition to the LNA and consolidating fighters from other factions opposed to General Haftar.
The Red Cross has dismissed claims by the NGO that they’re working together. They may in fact be putting the journalist’s life in further danger.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is the latest organisation to deny claims by the Truth Collective SA (TCSA) that it had anything to do with negotiating the release of South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed, kidnapped at gunpoint in Syria in January.
Kgwete refused to say how Dirco and al-Maharmeh had initially become involved, and would not confirm if a trip for South African media and observers to Syria was being facilitated by al-Maharmeh, whose claims have now been denied by the Red Cross, local community aid organisations and, now, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (Trac).
However, TCSA’s Facebook page does show the group has high-level political connections both in South Africa and Syria.
On November 18, it shows a photo of al-Maharmeh and others with Deputy Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation Nomaindiya Mfeketo, allegedly after having delivered a report on a 2015 fact-finding mission to Syria.
“She was very enthusiastic about the community interaction and assured us the meeting has opened a dialogue about Syria that will continue in future between her department and the community,” the post states.
The Trac director, a 14-year veteran of the former National Intelligence Agency, Jasmine Opperman, said she had spoken to people in Syria who were unaware of the group’s claimed activities.
“No one can claim control and it remains a high-risk visit – the [President Bashar] al-Assad government will most probably only take them to areas where they have control, which means the realities of Syria in a holistic manner will not be accessed,” said Opperman.
Beware of alarmist warnings of an imminent risk from Islamic State in South Africa in context of Donald Trump’s rise to power in the US.
Several commentators have asserted that South Africa is presently at a greater risk than ever before of an Islamic State attack. Very little evidence is forwarded for these alarmist warnings, apart from references to the election of US President Donald Trump.
The causal link between Trump, South Africa and IS is hard to follow. Yes, Trump’s policies, exactly like those of his predecessor, will probably serve as a catalyst for ongoing IS targeting of US and Western interests worldwide – including SA – should the opportunity arise and if the cost-benefit calculation makes sense from an IS perspective.
The Tunisian terror suspect in the deadly truck bombing in Berlin that killed twelve people Monday at a Christmas market, called Mohamed Anis Amri. The German police found identity papers in the cab of the truck, but it is the American Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (Trac) that his full identity is known by Tunisian sources and the first images of the man spreading.
According to Tunisian sources of Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) Anis Amri was born in 1992 and originally from the Tunisian Kairaouan. According to documents he used his own words to be born in Tataouine. Trac also publish photos of the suspect, who has for the Tunisian Salafists on his Facebook page likes Ansar al Sharia.
"We can not assume that the losses of IS in Iraq and Syria to weaken its ability to strike abroad," said Veryan Khan of the US Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC). "On the contrary. Whenever IS suffers heavy losses in its home base, as now in Mosul, we should expect more attacks abroad. Because they want to prove that they still exist. Because large terrorist cells are more likely captured, we particularly fear medium (with less than a hundred victims) and smaller attacks. "
20 December 2016 | Heavy | News
Isis vs 'Hitler': Filipino Jihadist factions uniting to take on Rodrigo Duterte
An intricate web of alliances and power plays defines Islamic State’s (Isis’s) presence in the Philippines and is posing a major problem for President Rodrigo Duterte, the man who has likened himself to Hitler but whose tough-guy persona may soon be put to the test.
No less than four separate groups operating in the country have pledged allegiance to Isis. They have also pledged to support each other in fighting the Filipino government.
By Veryan Khan
30 November 2016 | Heavy | News
WATCH: New ISIS Video Shows Ongoing Battles & Suicide Operations North of Mosul
Wilayat al-Jazira is a newer state in the ISIS organization and was once part of “Wilayat Ninawa,” which includes Mosul. According to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, vulnerable cities in Wilayat al-Jazira include: “Tal ‘Afar, Al-Ba’aj, Al-‘Ayadiyyah, Al-Mahlabiyyah, Sinjar, Wardiyyah, Sanuni, Khana Sor, Ibrat al-Saghira, Al-Badi, [and] Al-Qanat.”
The video was released on ISIS terrorist channels on November 30. The region fell to ISIS in June 2014. Last month, the American coalition, consisting of the Iraqi Army, the Kurdish Peshmerga, Shia militias, Christian militias, and the Turkish Nineveh Guard, descended upon Mosul to free it from the Islamic State. The official operation began on October 17 when it was announced by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
According to analysts from the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (Trac), at least seven videos were posted between 10 and 27 October. None mention Aqa-Mul-Mujahidin or Haviz Tohar. Instead, some introduce a “chief” named as Abu Ammar Junooni, a bearded man sitting in the centre of a small band of men.
“Each video calls for an armed struggle,” says Veryan Khan, editorial director at Trac, while three “specifically call for a jihad”.
There was joy and celebration for citizens of Mosul as the Iraqi city advanced towards liberation from Islamic State control. But the war is far from over. Africa especially should brace itself for a new Islamic State onslaught in the wake of their defeat.
Jeffery Woodke, 55, the U.S. missionary who was kidnapped by armed men from his home in Niger, West Africa, on Friday after they killed his two guards, is now believed to be in the hands of a drug-trafficking jihadist group called The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).
"We think this is the MUJAO," Nigerien Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum told the AFP. "We followed the kidnappers when they crossed the Malian border. They headed to the Menaka region (eastern Mali ), near the Niger border, an area controlled by the Mujao."
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, the MUJAO is a splinter group of the Organization of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which formally announced its existence following its abduction of three humanitarian workers from a Saharan refugee camp in Tindouf on Oct. 23, 2011. MUJAO's leaders are known to be drug traffickers involved in the drug trade in the Sahel and southern Algeria.
18 October 2016 | The Daily Maverick Show | Interview
Kingsley sits down with Jasmine Opperman, former spy turned security analyst. She once got a phone call from a distressed parent to help talk a teenager out of a decision to go to Syria and join ISIS. She explains how she did it and how she’s gone on to do this for more and more young people around South Africa. We also learn why she thinks the caliphate is imploding and why we should all be worried about current South African and global counter-terrorism efforts.
14 October 2016 | Heavy | News
WATCH: New ISIS Video Shows Battlefield Dead & Suicide Attacks [ENGLISH]
In a new video purportedly released by the Islamic State titled “Victory from Allah and an Imminent Conquest #5,” ISIS militants in Deir ez-Zor, “Wilayat al-Khayr,” Syria conduct an attack on Syrian Arab Army soldiers. The video was released on October 13 on ISIS terorrist channels and is the fifth video in the “Imminent Conquest” series. The prior videos in the series also come from Wilayat al-Khayr.
According to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, “Wilayat al-Khayr is a (Syria-Iraq) border province of the Islamic State, primarily made up of the city Deir Ezzor and its fertile surroundings. It is often referred to and translated ‘State of Goodness.’In 2014 the area was a focal point of Islamic State activity.”
12 October 2016 | The Seahawk.org | News
Wilmington's role as one of the worst cities for heroin and opioid abuse
Veryan Khan, who is the Editorial Director for the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, told The Seahawk that the 4 percent of Afghan heroin entering the U.S. is likely being funneled through the Sahel in Africa, which than gets brokered out to different countries.
The Seahawk has not been able to determine what percentage of heroin in Wilmington originated in Afghanistan; However, New Hanover Sheriff’s office, New Hanover D.A. Ben David and the Jacksonville Police Department have all either confirmed or suggested that some of the heroin in Wilmington is from Afghanistan—opium tied to the Taliban, a terrorist organization in that region.
28 September 2016 | Heavy | News
WATCH: Losing ISIS Tells Its Militants to ‘Endure & Remain Stationed’
The video comes from “Wilayat al-Jazira,” Iraq. According to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, “Wilayat al-Jazira does not appear in the older [mas], when it’s territory was considered part of the northern wilayat of Ninawa.” Vulnerable cities that are currently considered part of the wilayat by ISIS include “Tal ‘Afar, Al-Ba’aj, Al-‘Ayadiyyah, Al-Mahlabiyyah, Sinjar, Wardiyyah, Sanuni, Khana Sor, Ibrat al-Saghira, Al-Badi, [and] Al-Qanat.”
The Islamic State is infamous for its online propaganda, which has driven thousands of new recruits to join its ranks in Iraq and Syria. For curious teenagers who have swallowed whole the Islamist militant group’s message, the process of de-radicalisation requires time, kindness and plenty of patience.
By JASMINE OPPERMAN.
21 September 2016 | talkRADIO UK | Opinion
New York suspect Ahmad Khan Rahami already inspiring next wave of terrorists online By Veryan Khan
As investigators look for clues as to why Ahmad Khan Rahami may have planted several bombs throughout New York and New Jersey over this past weekend, what becomes clear is that people now feel empowered to attack. No matter what group a potential attacker might feel sympathetic to, the filter that prevents him from attacking has become thinner.
It has often been said that lone wolves are never really lonely, and in a world where social media connects everyone across the globe, that statement is more true than ever.
But even taking away the social media aspect of self-starters, there is so much anger embedded in jihadist propaganda (as well as the propaganda of other ideologies) that it would take decades to eradicate its injurious effects.
"That list of keywords need to be secret and be in constant review, since searches usually have to do, in most cases, with events and news that just happened," as told to El Confidencial by Veryan Khan, editorial chief for TRAC, one of the largest conglomerates of sources and resources 'online' on violent political extremism that exists on the Internet. "But the main problem is that the individuals we are talking about are not usually look for these things on Google. They use messaging systems and chat encrypted programs such as Telegram. Four years ago, it was more common to find such things openly on the Internet, but now that Twitter and YouTube accounts have been closed and there is more surveillance, it is much more difficult. An interested person normally goes through someone who introduces and helps you to open a Telegram account. That is where you find and will be approached by an ISIS recruiter." As Khan point out, Google's own policy for both the search and YouTube (and other social networks like Facebook or Twitter), is to censor pro-violence content or close accounts that encourage terrorism takes most individuals interested in ISIS to seek information elsewhere.
20 September 2016 | talkRADIO UK | News
Baby Isis executioner watches beheadings in shocking footage By Daniel Lebowitz
The image of a very young, Caucasian child killing a prisoner for Islamic State in a firing squad-style execution has sparked a predictable outpouring of uproar and concern.
Yet, while the child’s gunshot was heard round the world, it is by no means the end of the story.
The execution is actually part of a series of barbaric murderers, all filmed by Isis, produced by the Wilayat Ninawa militant group. The third part of the series, the most recent, shows the executions of three different groups of hostages all accused of being “spies", comprising a total of 16 people. And the tiny blonde executioner is just one of three children seen in the footage.
14 September 2016 | talkRADIO UK | Opinion
Is Isis 'white widow' Sally Jones really running all-female suicide squads? UnlikelyBy Veryan Khan
Perhaps last week’s two foiled attacks (an as-yet-unclaimed plot in Notre Dame, France, and a claimed assault in Mombasa, Kenya) demonstrate the evolution of Islamic State’s use of women and girls more clearly than anything we’ve seen recently.
Early signs that Isis' roles for females were evolving began at least as far back as February 2016, when aid workers inside the Caliphate claimed that leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had appointed Nada al-Qahtani, a female Saudi national, to head up a new all-female-battalion in northeastern Syria. This was separate from the all-female al-Khansaa brigade, which provides basic civilian monitoring and policing of women, and men posing as women.
If indeed the Thulsie twins were engaged in planning an attack, evidence will stand to inform the South African public on the nature and extent of attacks the Islamic State planned against South Africa.
Again, experts canvassed by VICE broadly agree it will be almost impossible for any group to pull off a massive attack at a major-game site. But they cite the potential for an individual jihadi to launch a lone-wolf attack—especially in a less-hardened city like Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Salvador, or São Paulo, all of which will be hosting Olympic events as well. Other possible targets include a hotel or party site beyond the zone of the games and military-police saturation.
As Veryan Khan of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium put it, "No one can really prepare for a lone wolf–style attack."
It is not easy raising a teenager, and ISIS has added another complication for some parents around the world.
ISIS’s recruitment message promises an idyllic paradise promising inclusion for the excluded, romance for the lonely-hearts, and adventure and heroism for the picked-upon. As a parent, it can be hard to ever be “cool enough” for your teen, and when you are worried that your child is being seduced by ISIS, it can seem almost impossible to compete.
The case of the Thulsie twins, arrested on allegations of planning an attack against the US embassy and Jewish institutions in South Africa, is becoming increasingly important from a counterterrorism perspective.
“The Islamic State is persistently demoralizing European unity by launching divisive attacks within its borders -- the most recent attack on the Catholic Church aims directly at the French sense of identity,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the U.S.-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium.
Calls for attacks on Europe in general and the Catholic Church in particular have built to a fever pitch over the last several months, Khan said. Two months ago, ISIS circulated a video message on the social media site Telegram about migrations to the Caliphate from within the Middle East and from Europe. In the video, “the Pope is demonized and the land of the Crusaders is lambasted,” Khan said.
20 July 2016 | Latin American Herald Tribune | News
Many residents are isolated in enclaves and slums, constantly struggling to achieve cultural acceptance and economic well-being. Neighboring countries like Germany have their own Muslim areas where people struggle with identity and social isolation, but according to Veryan Khan of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), that state and its society have done more to reach out to those communities than France—as have many other nations. As such, France has incubated an especially large pool of people who might be open to crime and vulnerable to identity crises.
Better security might also require the the adaptation of increasingly severe tactics, like Germany's "round up the usual suspects" approach, as Khan describes it, which France has yet to adopt despite claims that it has become a police state during its (extended) state of emergency. And even a fully funded and harsher version of the French intelligence and security network probably wouldn't be able to catch people who jump from petty crime and violence to terrorist action quickly, like the Nice attacker apparently did, with few or no red flags for terrorism watchers.
18 July 2016 | Crónica | News
"Matar, sí; pero herir, insultar…": ISIS ("Kill, yes; but injure, insult ... ": ISIS)
Translated by Hylda Fenton
For those of you roaming the world or just walking near your homes, I ask you to read the following information, published by journalist Francisco Carrion in the Spanish daily El Mundo and reproduced online in the Jewish Journal Thursday night:
"ISIS has repeatedly called for their followers to use any method at their disposal to attack civilians in the West and cited the use of "running over", among the possibilities.
"In fact, back on May 22 the official spokesman the organization, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani addressed the supporters residing in the West who cannot meet the 'hijrah' caliphate -the emigration. In the 31-minute speech, he urged their cubs to initiate onslaughts during the holy month of Ramadan, which ended a week ago. 'Even the smallest action you commit in the heart of their land is more precious than the greatest of our attacks," he shouted after warning that Western soil' must not preserve blood or there is nothing called innocent and specified that any method - stone, knife, abuse, poison or strangulation would be welcome. 'Attacking those called civilians is the best and most useful," he said.
"A similar call was also made in January 2015 several weeks after the attack on the Paris headquarters of the weekly publication Charlie Hebdo . Al- Adnani urged in an audio speech 'to the mujahideen in Europe that the Western infidel and elsewhere, to attack the Crusaders in their own land and wherever they are found. In the message, he asked 'any Muslim capable of shedding a single drop of blood of the crusaders, that he do so either with an explosive device, a bullet, a knife, a car, a rock and even a boot or fist'.
"Accounts of Twitter and Telegram linked to the self-proclaimed Islamic State have echoed the tragedy in Nice surprisingly quick. 'We have heard about Nice from Telegram accounts affiliated with the IS, even before it was reported through any media. Simultaneously they have begun circulating the first civilian tweets at the scene', as told to El Mundo by Veryan Khan, editorial director of TRAC (Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium for Analysis), a company that tracks the messages and movements of IS.
"A Twitter account of an IS follower connected the alleged attack with the death of Abu Omar al-Shishani, a prominent military leader of the group whose death was confirmed Wednesday by the organization through his news agency Al Amaq ".
As you have read, perhaps for the umpteenth time, though it is better to repeat than to be sorry, the call and the recommendations of the spokesman of the Islamic State is for every Muslim who shares in the religious beliefs as interpreted by him. We understand well that there are no geographic boundaries for this war; the Islamic State can extend to anywhere on the planet that the readings of the Koran will indicate.
Neither are there limits here for our precautions...
Op korte termijn maken analisten zich volgens onze bronnen ongerust over aanslagen van IS in Brazilië tijdens de Olympische Spelen (5 tot 21 augustus). Het Amerikaanse Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (Trac), dat de onlineactiviteiten van IS monitort, onderschepte op 3 juni een boodschap waarin IS-propagandisten op zoek gingen naar Portugees- en Spaanstalige sprekers. Verder onderzoek leerde dat de terreurbeweging vooral actief probeert te rekruteren in Brazilië, Venezuela en Mexico - drie landen die door de cocktail van sociale onrust en bendemisdaad een voedingsbodem vormen.
French police have already identified the man in Nice, aboard a truck truck, it caused the latest massacre in France: it was called Mohamed Lahouaiej. According to the broadcaster France Info , the terrorist's identity document It was found on the car and coincides with fingerprints.
CLUES ON TELEGRAM
The Twitter account of a faithful Isis has linked the attack to Nice with the death of Isis Jihadi leader, Abu Omar al Shishani . According to Veryan Khan, director of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), in some accounts Telegram linked to ISIS there were references in Nice shortly before the massacre.
A truck driven at high speed for two kilometers ran into a crowd celebrating on Thursday, July 14, the French national holiday, on the seafront of Nice, in the south of the country.
The impact caused the deaths of at least 75 people and the number of injured could reach a hundred, according to police.
The truck driver has been killed by security forces.
The prefecture of Nice speaks openly of a bombing and asked people not to leave the street. The police found weapons inside the truck.
Although until Daesh (Islamic State) have not yet claimed responsibility for the attack, Telegram and Twitter accounts linked to the terrorist group have echoed the tragedy in Nice with surprising quickness. 'We have heard about Nice from Telegram accounts affiliated with the IS, even before it was reported through any media. Simultaneously they have begun circulating the first civilian tweets at the scene', as told to El Mundo by Veryan Khan, editorial director of TRAC (Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium for Analysis), a company that tracks the messages and movements of IS.
On the other hand, recently it became known that the authorities ordered the total closure of borders in Nice, the border with Italy known as Costa Azul.
For now, it is unknown whether the alleged terrorist action involved one or more authors.
Recent reports of Isis recruitment in South Africa have raised concerns of whether there are more people in the country becoming involved in Isis terrorism activities.
This week, twin brothers, Brandon-Lee Thulsie and Tony-Lee Thulsie, 24, were charged with conspiring to blow up various Jewish institutions and a U.S. mission in South Africa.
John Maytham spoke to Jasmine Opperman, [former] Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, about the possibilities of Isis setting up in South Africa.
Opperman says that there are people who are showing interest in what Isis is doing, more so as Isis is not shy about its propaganda campaign.
The message of Isis is being spread, and there is a response, but this remain individual cases. There is no evidence at this point in time directing toward active cells planning attacks
— Jasmine Opperman, Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium
I think as the public in South Africa, we must just take a step back and says the reality of Isis's presence in South Africa is here we cannot ignore it.
— Jasmine Opperman, Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium
Opperman went on to talk about the Isis recruitment process. She says it starts on an individual targeted subjects by individual recruiters, who then form a recruitment cell, and recruits are then placed in operational positions.
In order to execute its mandate, Isis does not need a lot of people. It relies rather on individuals, who know exactly what to do in order to execute an attack, she says.
The message now to its supporters is that wherever you are based and you execute an attack, that will be of equal importance, and a contribution towards what they believe the course is all about. South Africa cannot isolate itself from this
— Jasmine Opperman, Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium
The fact that South Africa has managed to make only four arrest in a year is concerning says Opperman. She says South Africa needs to develop a broader strategy where it will be difficult for Isis to execute attacks.
The cartoon image is a clear rendering of the Islamic State’s execution by Jihad John of journalist James Foley in 2014 - even down to the gun strap Jihadi John wore, which is recreated in the image of the US flag,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of the U.S.-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. “Ironically, the Islamic State has picked up on the propaganda material and is now using the same image on its social media pages, including on the media site Telegram.”
“The way social media works these days, people do not really ‘follow’ or ‘friend’ others, but instead read hashtags and look for further information on that hash tag,” Khan said. “Islamic State learned this social media trick early. The technique now appears to be used by people and groups promoting violence against police.”
PRETORIA, 11 July 2016 - Four suspects arrested in connection with terrorism-related charges, appeared in court on Monday, their case was postponed to July 19. eNCA speaks to the director of Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, Jasmine Opperman for more insights.
JOHANNESBURG – The case against four South Africans who tried to fly to Syria, allegedly with terror-related intent, was postponed in the Kagiso Magistrate’s Court on Monday.
The three men and one woman were arrested by the Hawks on Saturday prior to boarding a flight. Their case has been postponed to July 19.
Last month the US issued an advisory to its citizens in South Africa to be vigilant.
The South African government responded to the warning, accusing Washington of undermining the country's anti-terrorism fight.
After meeting with the US ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard, the government said it had reached an understanding on the way forward.
Director of Southern Africa Operations at the Terrorism, Research and Analysis Consortium Jasmine Opperman said she believed South Africa was as vulnerable as any other state which is why law and order services needed to look at these threats on a broader scale.
“The good news is the arrests being made, but I think the bad news the concern related to these arrests, the weapons being found. There’s always been this claim that SA has been in a unique position where it’s been the safety spot for terror organisations. The question now if they had weapons, is what was their actual intent in using such weapons,” said Opperman.
“These threats were discussed with regards to safety before the initial warnings from the US, as far as terrorism is concerned.
“South Africa need to figure out what has to be done to secure long-term safety from terrorism.”
Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said they had been tracking the movements of the four suspects for almost a year. The Hawks had also expanded their investigation to determine if the four had additional links within the country.
He said the they could not divulge at present which groups the four intended to join, but they are believed to have planned attacks on the US Mission and Jewish institutions in South Africa.
Cape Talk | Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium [Fomer] Director Jasmine Opperman chats to CapeTalk host Kienno Kammies on SA’s counter-terrorism strategy. Listen to the full conversation
CAPE TOWN – The US Embassy last month released an alert about possible attacks on upmarket shopping malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town, raising questions about South Africa’s counter-terrorism strategy.
Jasmine Opperman, the [former] Africa director for the Terrorism, Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), discusses whether South Africa has a strategy in place to protect its citizens from terror attacks.
“The Islamic State has never claimed credit for any attacks on civilians in Turkey, as it is an advantage to the group not to,” said Veryan Khan, director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. She noted, though, that the group did claim responsibility for assassinations of opponents in southern Turkey.
The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has issued a recruitment call for Spanish and Portuguese speakers, or “brothers and sisters,” to join its translation team as the group prepares to ramp up its propaganda operation ahead of the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
On June 3, an ISIS-linked Telegram account named as Online Dawah Operations called on the group’s supporters with linguistic skills that would be accessible to Brazil or the rest of South America to contact a militant and join its ranks.
“Dear brothers and sisters, we are in need of brothers and sisters who can speak either Portuguese or Spanish to help us on our project in'shaa Allah. If you speak one of those languages and you are willing to join our translation team please Wickr me,” the message read, referring to the encrypted messaging service, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
It’s often assumed that women involved in terrorist acts are passive participants, even victims of domineering husbands and extremist ideologies. Recent case studies from Islamist militant groups around the world tell a different story. By JASMINE OPPERMAN and DANIEL LEBOWITZ.
When it comes to analysing the role of women in terrorism, they are often portrayed as victims. They are seen as the prey of extremist propaganda, with little choice or different reasons for supporting an extremist ideology than those of men. However, a look at their roles in recent attacks in Europe and US presents a different reality: female participation in attacks, directly or indirectly, is usually a matter of conviction, and demonstrates a willingness to engage in violence, full understanding of the consequences of their actions, and little empathy for the targets.
The role of women in terrorist attacks varies from active participation in attacks to less direct involvement as couriers, financiers, propagandists, and trusted accomplices.
Ironically, involvement in attacks, whether as part of an extremist cell or as partner to a “lone wolf” attacker, allows the woman to gain the kind of gender equality often assumed to be lacking in traditional religious relationships. Empowerment is redefined in an extremist context.
Africa is no exception. Boko Haram’s use of female suicide bombers is well recorded, with women presumed to face less scrutiny in public places. On 4 July 2014, the Nigerian military announced the arrest of three suspected female terrorists whom it accused of covertly recruiting females for the “women wing of Boko Haram”. The three suspects, Hafsat Bako, Zainab Idris and Aisha Abubakar, were detained while travelling in Adamawa State. The arrested females’ reported goal was to recruit more women into Boko Haram. Hafsat Bako was reportedly married to a member of Boko Haram, Usman Bako, who was killed by the military.
On 3 May 2016, Kenya’s Inspector-General of Police, Joseph Boinnet, announced that members of an East African terror network with links to Islamic State had been arrested on 29 April 2016. The cell of medical interns, which included females, was, according to the Inspector-General, “planning large-scale attacks akin to the Westgate Mall attack with the intention of killing innocent Kenyans”. They also planned to use their medical “expertise” to use the pathogen anthrax in a biological terror operation. The cell members are also accused of involvement in the radicalisation and recruitment of university students and other Kenyan youth as well as facilitating Kenyans to join Islamic State in Libya and Syria.
In the US, Tashfeen Malik played a central role before, during and after the San Bernardino attack. She was raised in a conservative, religious household in both her native Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, and did not show signs of radicalisation until her college years. Before her marriage to Syed Farook in 2014 it was reported that they discussed jihadism and martyrdom. The couple stored pipe bombs in their home, and were capable marksmen due to frequent trips to shooting ranges. Prior to the attack on 2 December 2015, she reached out to Islamist groups online. During the attack, she opened fire first while her husband hesitated, according to witnesses. In the ensuing car chase and prior to her death, she pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
Most recently, in the aftermath of the attack on an Orlando LGBTI club, details are emerging that shooter Omar Mateen’s wife may be complicit. It should be noted at this point that investigations are ongoing. From what we know, however, it seems that her role was one of loyal wife. She accompanied her husband while he purchased ammunition, helped him scout Disney World as a potential target, and allegedly drove him to the Pulse nightclub a number of times prior to the attack. She texted him her love as the massacre unfolded. When questioned by the FBI, she gave conflicting accounts of what Mateen planned the day of the mass shooting. The couple were married in 2011 and have a three-year-old son. Like Malik, Salman was raised in a conservative Muslim household, though in a small town in California.
These case studies – and there are plenty more – show that women are by no means typical “jihadi brides”, a conception of submissive, sexualised wives whose sole job is to bear children, keep the house, and satisfy their mujahideen husbands (whether this conception is true even within the Islamic State’s Caliphate is debateable). These women were either active participants in terrorist incidents, or at the very least auxiliary supporters of their significant other’s plans.
These women show that categorising female participation differently based on pre-conceived gender roles is a mistake. Counter-terrorism policies therefore have to treat women as equally threatening to men when it comes to carrying out terrorist attacks.
Interestingly, the Islamic State propaganda machine has already reached that point. Its spin doctors make no distinction between men and women when they call for terrorist attacks in the wider world. Neither should we. DM
Jasmine Opperman is the Africa Director for the Terrorism, Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC). Daniel Lebowitz is a research associate at TRAC.
That ISIS would go all-in on Mateen is a bit surprising given the tentative nature of the group's initial claim to the attack. On Sunday, Amaq—the Islamic State's official news agency-slash-propaganda division—issued a statement that seemed more restrained than usual, almost like it was testing the waters, according to Veryan Khan of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC). The group followed up with further statements and basic images and videos, but even those materials paled in comparison to those released after the Brussels or Paris attacks.
"Nothing splashy, nothing in high-def," Khan tells VICE. "That's all just recycled material."
Now ISIS seems to be escalating coverage of the attack, creating higher-quality posters and distributing them via Telegram channels named after the shooter. Khan suspects these posters are the prelude to a new round of Orlando-focused propaganda videos, while Clarke posits that ISIS may eventually profile Mateen in Dabiq, its glossy apocalyptic magazine.
The Islamic State may have felt pushed to make a rapid claim, Khan suggests, because in the hours following the attack almost every major Islamic extremist group on Earth seemed eager to take credit as well.
According to Clarke, ISIS propagandists are doubling down in part because they've never really backed away from a claim of responsibility before. They can also easily brush off emerging details on Mateen and his sexual orientation as Western fabrications. "It just proves that infidels lie more than anyone [to them]," says Khan, "because [we] can produce this kind of evidence at will."
"We've seen people be guilted that way before and pushed towards the jihadist movement," Gartenstein-Ross explains. And as Khan notes, they could just come out and say, "Look how [Mateen] was struggling with his demons and overcame them. He just washed his sins clean with [his victims'] blood. Anything he has possibly thought or done, he has now atoned for."
Regardless of how ISIS handles reports about Mateen's sexuality, the experts VICE spoke to agree that the group was in dire straits before the attack. As its forces continue to suffer escalating losses in Iraq, Libya, and Syria and a crunch on their pipelines of supplies and foreign fighters, morale has to be low. And according to Khan and Skinner, the volume of supporters' Twitter chatter and of propaganda flowing out of its central command had slowed significantly prior to Orlando.
Orlando also offers ISIS propagandists a new target of emphasis: LGBTQ people around the world. The group has always been open about its hatred of gays, posting videos of members throwing suspected LGBTQ people off of roofs in the Middle East. But until now, this hasn't been on the top of its agenda for international propaganda, according to Khan. Over the past few days, new posters have started to shift from a general incitement to kill non-believers toward targeting gays and specific gay pride events. Khan deems this especially important, as ISIS has endured tough press within the jihadi community for killing civilians and Muslims, which many radicals find distasteful. (That dispute was at the center of ISIS's rift with al Qaeda.)
"But this is something everyone can get on the bandwagon with," Khan says. "Everyone hates homosexuals worldwide in the jihadi mentality, and this will [lend them] more public support... It's manna from heaven [to them]. Like: 'Oh shit, why didn't we think about this? We already hate them!'"
Veryan Khan, editorial director for the U.S.-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, is cautious about an approach that simply takes terrorist accounts down, as those sites and posts may contain useful information for law enforcement. She believes the answer to dangerous social media speech is “counter narratives” that dilute and oppose hate.
JOHANNESBURG – The Institute of Race Relations says South Africa is not immune to the threat of a terrorist attack, saying there are a number of factors that make the country vulnerable.
The United States (US) embassy issued a terror alert over the weekend, but international relations believe the source lacks credibility and now government has served a demarche on the embassy.
The institute’s Frans Cronje, however, says South Africa should not see itself as immune.
Cronje says there should have been a coordinated statement between the foreign agencies and government.
“South Africa has very porous borders, it’s easy to obtain fraudulent documentation. Our weapons are easily available, we are on the tail of what’s called ‘the African terror belt’ – there are numerous examples of terror suspects, or people linked to terror suspects, being found in possession of South African documents.”
On Monday, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium said it had verified reports of al-Shabaab supporters in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and in a suburb of Vereeniging.
The US embassy warned attacks are likely to be carried out at upscale shopping malls in Cape Town and Johannesburg during the month of Ramadan.
PRESIDENCY DISTANCES ITSELF FROM DIRCO, SSA STATEMENT
Earlier this week, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s (Dirco) spokesperson Clayson Monyela said the terror alert issued by the US embassy was based on dubious and unsubstantiated information.
“We reject attempts to generate perceptions of government ineptitude, alarmist impressions and public hysteria on the basis of a single questionable source.”
Monyela said South Africa’s security agencies had always maintained contact with foreign intelligence agencies based in the country; which included information exchanges on threats.
The department and The State Security Agency (SSA) issued a joint statement in which they accused the embassy of attempting to influence and manipulate South Africa’s efforts to combat terrorism.
However, this afternoon Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said another statement issued by the presidency, relating to the recent terror alerts, was the only official position of government.
His comments at a Cabinet briefing in Pretoria suggested government had distanced itself from the strongly-worded statement issued by Dirco and the SSA.
The presidency’s statement was measured and diplomatic, and reflected on the close working relations with the US.
Monyela has since deleted a tweet in which he stated he received the highest level of approval for the statement.
07 June 2016 | The Wilmington Journal | News
South Africa Unsettled By U.S. Warning Of Iminent Terror Attacks
South Africans were shocked this week to learn that a U.S. travel alert, issued Saturday, predicted a likely attack by terrorist groups at upscale shopping areas and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and had warned Americans to take measures.
There had been no such warning from South African authorities. State Security Minister David Mahlobo assured citizens that the country was not in “immediate danger” of attack by militant Islamists.
“We remain a strong and stable democratic country and there is no immediate danger posed by the alert,” Mr Mahlobo said in a statement.
The UK and Australia have issued similar alerts, which threaten economic havoc in the country at a challenging time for the South African economy.
The ominous U.S. Security Message read in part: “Terrorist groups are planning to carry out near-term attacks against places where U.S. citizens congregate… This information comes against the backdrop of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan.”
The alerts are meeting with skepticism if not disbelief. Clayson Monyela, South African public diplomacy spokesman, dismissed the alert as another false alarm, although both the British and Australian governments stand by the claims.
African security consultant company Signal Risk noted, “Despite the presumed activity of Islamist extremist groups in South Africa, there has yet to be an attack. This likely speaks to South Africa’s neutral foreign policy, which provides militant groups with little motivation to execute an attack in the country.
Jasmine Opperman, Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium or TRAC, added her voice: “A terror attack? In Joburg or Cape Town? The very idea seems absurd. South Africa has plenty of problems, but, so far at least, violent Islamist extremism has not been among them.”
“This isn’t the first such warning issued by the US Embassy in South Africa,” she continued. “In September 2015, a similarly vague statement was issued. It should also be noted that, ever since the attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya, US missions have been playing it safe by releasing public warnings at the merest suggestion of a threat.”
Sources contacted by TRAC suggest there is no specific intelligence suggesting an attack in South Africa during Ramadan.
While South Africa is in fact home to a number of supporters of Al-Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-aligned Jahbaht al-Nusra; and the Islamic State, in all these cases, active supporters are primarily involved in recruitment and financial supply lines, rather than terrorist activity.
This does not mean, however, that South Africans can ignore the threat, cautioned Opperman. “Irrespective of the credibility or otherwise of these particular warnings, South Africa is becoming increasingly vulnerable to terrorism on its soil.”
07 June 2016 | Africa News Network/ANN7 | TV News
[Former] TRAC Senior Director South Africa Jasmine Opperman on SA terror alert
06 June 2016 | IOL | News
KZN mayor downplays IS threat
Durban - The mayor of Newcastle, Afzul Rahman, said he was not concerned about a terror attack during Ramadaan this month after a researcher singled out the northern KwaZulu-Natal town as one of the centres where the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) was recruiting.
The US government at the weekend warned it had received information that terrorist groups were planning attacks in shopping areas where its citizens congregate in South Africa.
Responding to the US warning, a director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, Jasmine Opperman, said face-to-face recruiters were now active in Newcastle, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
“The next step… is the formation of recruitment cells. And Morocco, Spain and Europe have proved that once you have recruitment cells, the operation of these cells to take active action is the next step. South Africa’s vulnerability is increasing and it is time to act, now,” said Opperman.
Johannesburg - State Security Minister David Mahlobo on Monday downplayed the US government’s terror alert, giving assurances that his department was doing all it could to keep South Africa safe against attacks.
It was part of the United States government’s "standard precautionary recommendation to its residents", he said in a statement.
"We remain a strong and stable democratic country and there is no immediate danger posed by the alert."
The US said in its alert on Saturday that it had received information that radical Islamic terrorist groups were planning to attack places where US citizens congregated - like shopping malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town - ahead of the month of Ramadan, which starts in South Africa on Tuesday.
Security services would continue to work on matters of "violent extremism and terrorism" and ensure the safety of all citizens and residents.
News24 understands that the US had been liaising with the South African government for the past few weeks in the run-up to the alert.
Soon after the alert was issued, there was a brief spat between international relations department spokesperson Clayson Monyela and US Ambassador Patrick Gaspard about the alert.
In a tweet on Sunday, Monyela criticised the US embassy in Pretoria, saying its terror alerts caused "panic". He subsequently deleted it.
Monyela told News24 on Monday that he still stood by the remark and always deleted his tweets.
"The last advisory by @USEmbassySA to US citizens in SA warning of an 'imminent attack' proved to be a false alarm. I see there's another 1," the tweet said.
Gaspard responded: "The price of freedom is eternal diligence, and through Grace we are all made safe. The only false note is arrogance."
Monyela ended the debate by replying: "I won't engage you on that road Amb. You know my views on these advisories & the panic they cause."
Threats should not be taken lightly
Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), Jasmine Opperman, said although the alert seemed absurd, it should not be taken lightly.
She wrote on the online news site Daily Maverick on Monday that TRAC had not picked up on "specific intelligence suggesting an attack on South Africa during Ramadan".
However, South Africa was becoming increasingly vulnerable to terrorism on its soil.
"TRAC has verified reports of Al-Shabaab supporters in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Roshnee, a suburb of Vereeniging; sympathisers of the Al Qaeda-aligned Jahbaht al-Nusra in Port Elizabeth; and continuous recruitment efforts by the Islamic State in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Newcastle and Port Elizabeth.
"In all these cases, active supporters have primarily been involved in recruitment and financial supply lines, rather than terrorist activity," she wrote.
Johan Burger, of the Institute for Security Studies, said the US had a responsibility to do everything it could to stop attacks on its citizens, wherever in the world they might be.
Burger said South Africa should try to determine where the threats had come from and who was behind them, and increase security around possible targets.
"Thirdly, operational and other emergency services that would manage such a situation, should be put on standby so that they could react quickly should something happen."
This weekend, both the US and the UK warned their citizens about possible terror attacks in South Africa, with malls in Joburg and Cape Town thought to be likely targets. Just how seriously should we take these warnings?
By JASMINE OPPERMAN.
06 June 2016 | Reuters/EuroNews | News
Britain warns of possible terrorist attacks in South Africa
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Britain has warned of a high threat of attacks against foreigners in popular shopping malls in South Africa in an alert issued at the weekend, when a similar advisory was published by the United States embassy in Pretoria.
Africa’s most industrialised country has a significant expatriate and tourist population but has seldom been associated with Islamist militancy. South Africa’s government said the country was safe following the U.S. warning on Saturday.
It was not immediately clear what triggered the warnings. Security officials say there are no known militant groups operating in South Africa. It has only a small Muslim population.
The British government first issued its statement on Saturday and was marked as “still current” on its travel advice website on Monday.
The warning identified upmarket shopping areas and malls in the commercial hub of Johannesburg and Cape Town, widely regarded as South Africa’s tourism capital, as the main target areas in the suspected planned attacks.
“There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in Johannesburg and Cape Town,” the British government said.
“There is considered to be a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.” (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa/terrorism)
On Saturday, the U.S. warned its citizens of possible attacks by Islamist militants on U.S. facilities or shopping malls in South Africa during the month of Ramadan.
The U.S. issued a similar warning in September, but no Islamist attack was reported.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo said in a statement that South Africa remained “a strong and stable democratic country”, adding that there was no immediate danger posed by the alert.
Analysts said that a terrorist attack in South Africa was feasible, citing economic hardships that could be a catalyst for radicalising South Africa’s Muslims.
Economic growth is seen below one percent this year and unemployment is at its highest ever, near 27 percent.
“Both in terms of sources of financing from older religious conservative generations and of a growing community of economically side-lined, mostly young Muslims,” Robert Besseling, head of the EXX Africa business risk intelligence group said in a note.
Jasmine Opperman, the Africa Director for Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) said if Islamist extremist groups ever do decide to target South Africa, the nation is unprepared to protect itself.
“Shopping malls and tourist destinations are areas that are particularly prone to terror attacks,” Opperman wrote in a note.
“In South Africa, security is usually outsourced to private security companies, primarily aimed at preventing petty crimes such as theft,” she said.
Johannesburg’s Sandton City, one of Africa’s biggest shopping malls located in a wealthy business district, said it had improved security following the warnings.
Nomzamo Radebe, CEO of JHI Retail, the company that manages the shopping complex popular with tourists said they were “on high alert and additional security measures have been implemented,” said without giving details.
Islamists have attacked shopping malls on the continent before, including Kenya’s Westgate building where Somali militant group al Shabaab massacred at least 67 people, including foreigners, and held out for four days as security forces laid siege to the complex.
Jasmine Opperman‚ a director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium‚ told the television news station that face-to-face recruiters were now active in Cape Town‚ Johannesburg‚ Newcastle and Port Elizabeth.
05 June 2016 | eNews Channel Africa/eNCA | TV News
According to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, the CorCom comprises Kangleipak Communist Party, Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup, People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak and its faction PREPAK-Pro, Revolutionary People’s Front – the political wing of the People’s Liberation Army), United National Liberation Front and United Peoples Party of Kangleipak.
Analysis Consortium, the CorCom comprises Kangleipak Communist Party, Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup, People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak and its faction PREPAK-Pro, Revolutionary People’s Front – the political wing of the People’s Liberation Army), United National Liberation Front and United Peoples Party of Kangleipak.
Police arrested Shariful Islam, 37, a member of the banned local militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT), in connection with the murder. According to Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, ABT is inspired by or affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent.
ABT was banned by Bangladesh authorities after the group pulled off a bank heist last year. They were also responsible for some of the murders and attacks on atheist bloggers between 2013 and 2015.
Islamic State propaganda must not be taken at face value. It is at all times directed to a specific audience with specific messages, irrespective of facts. IS hides inaccuracies or blatant lies behind brutality in execution videos, the impression of a perfect Caliphate or the perfect life in the Caliphate in photo reports, or exaggerated casualty statistics in official claims of attacks. The message is more important than fact, and because of its effective manipulation of emotions, like shock or being in awe, its lies are seldom exposed. By JASMINE OPPERMAN.
The event as reported by Istok Issue #4
In May 2016, Al-Hayat Media Centre of the Islamic State (IS) released a new issue of Russian magazine Istok #4, which contains an article about a so-called Russian secret service spy named as Elvira R. Karaeva. According to the Islamic State magazine, Karaeva had infiltrated the ranks of Islamic State in ash-Sham and had been reporting back to mother Russia. IS claims to have executed Karaeva for her crimes once she was discovered.
Despite the silence of Russian government officials, who refuse to comment on the article, it is highly unlikely that Karaeva was a spy who had penetrated Islamic State. However, given the fact that she previously co-operated with federal investigators, at least in one criminal case, some IS fighters from Kabardino-Balkaria area recognised Karaeva and reported her to the IS as a spy. As a result, the IS commanders decided to make Karavava “the example” for other members.
Born in 1988 in a small town called Cherkessk, in the Kabardino-Cherkess republic in the North Caucasus, Elvira R. Karaeva was a militant’s wife. Karaeva was pedigreed in the illegal activities of local extremist organisations long before her trip to IS held-territories. By 2012, she had a criminal record as a member of a local chapter of Caucasus Emirate (CE) of the “south-western sector”.
Karaeva again came into the Russian security spotlight in March 2012 during a counterterrorist operation in Kabardino-Balkaria. The authorities received information about a suspicious group of people residing in a private house in a small village called Mir, in the Chegem district. Following the report, police officers began to check the documents of all residents of this village. However, the authorities underestimated the situation: the group’s house was not surrounded and residents of nearby houses were not evacuated. In turn, the militants, with machine guns, opened fire on police.
The operation resulted in the deaths of the militants. According to the information centre of the National Antiterrorism Committee, five militants including one woman were killed by Russian special forces. Trying to escape with two children, Karaeva was captured by police officers not far from the location of the incident. Only active co-operation during the investigation after the event helped her to avoid severe punishment. However, since 2013, Karaeva has earned her place on the federal terrorist watchlist.
Karaeva appeared, again, in police reports in 2014. The FSB indicted Elvira Karaeva and three other women: Saida Halikova (Dagestan), P. Atemaskina (Sakhalin), and E. Arshahova (Tatarstan) for terrorist financing and sending money to the IS. They worked under the supervision of a IS cadre’s widow, Daria Izankova (Murmansk), who moved to Syria with a new husband in December 2013.
At that time, Karaeva lived in Makhachkala, Dagestan and worked with Polina Atemaskina and Elena Arshahova in a local market selling children’s clothes. Saida Halikova and Elena Arshahova were arrested in December 2014 and later were transferred to a Moscow detention facility for trial.
However, there is no official information about the arrest or interrogation of Elvira Karaeva on record. As the Russian News Portal, Meduza, underlined there was an absence of any information about a development in this criminal investigation against this woman.
As with many other suspects at risk, the authorities monitored Karaeva from that point onward. After the arrest of Saida Halikova in December 2014, Elvira undertook a trip to Syria. It was only after she fled that investigators realised her involvement in Islamic State financing (approximately between December 2014-May 2015), Kareva was out of their reach.
Accusations from Istok #4
According to the Istok article, Elvira was directly involved in the murder of a field commander, Emir of Ichkeria, B. Gochiaev, several militants and a female, who was trained to be a suicide bomber, on December 7, 2011 in Kabardino-Balkaria.
However in reality, all of these people were killed by the explosion of their own bomb, which accidentally detonated while trying to escape from the police. Karaeva, also according to Istok#4, helped to kill a leader of a local gang, Saad aka Artur Amriev (born in 1988). Again, in reality, Saad was shot by police officers in the Sunjensky region of Ingushetia on November 19, 2011.
Pure IS Propaganda
In conclusion, there is no evidence that Elvira Karaeva was ever a Russian spy. She co-operated with police investigators and disclosed some important information in order to avoid imprisonment many years ago, yet her militant activity remained steadfast. Her entire life was connected to various extremist groups and criminal gangs in the North Caucasus. Trying to escape arrest for terrorist financing, Karaeva sought refuge in ash-Sham, maybe alone (or some reports with a new husband and her child). Islamic State accusations are most likely baseless. However, after severe interrogations the execution still took place. The story presented in Istok Issue #4 magazine was propaganda created by the Islamic State in order to intimidate enemies and provide an example for its members who may be on the fence of return. DM
Jasmine Opperman is the Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
For all the focus this much-feared fifth column has received, many observers remain unsure of where these faceless German jihads are, how they're organized, and, of course, exactly what they have planned. But a new report out this week from the US-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) called "From Europe to Syria, and Back: The Jihadists' Underground Autobahn," sheds some light on these mysterious networks and what we can expect from them in the future.
Authored in response to mentions of Germany in a wave of post-Brussels Islamic State propaganda, the report compiles bits of intelligence gleaned from three years of jihadi chatter and propaganda, official documents, and regional news. It contains a primer on Islamic State rhetoric about the country, as well as on 191 individuals from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland with alleged jihadi ties or sympathies—over half of whom have traveled to (or have tried to travel to) Iraq or Syria.
To be sure, the report and its authors acknowledge it's not a comprehensive account of jihadi or even pro–Islamic State sentiment in Germany. But by mapping out trends in its limited pool of jihadis and their sympathizers, it offers insight into a few big players, as well as some of the broader dynamics at play in the epicenter of the European project.
Many components of the report mirror findings by TRAC and other observers on the dynamics of jihadi networks in general, and especially those being uncovered in France. Rather than being recruited at random or via exposure to internet propaganda, many German jihadis seem to emerge from hotspot mosques or communities hosting imams espousing radical ideas. Some are also apparently swayed to the cause by close relatives or trusted community members, yielding clusters and cliques of varied size and intensity across the nation.
While there appears to be communication between many Germanic jihadi nodes, the report only notes one potential connection to Islamic State–linked networks in France: Hüseyn D, a man with ties to alleged Paris attacks orchestrator Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Veryan Khan, one of the TRAC report's co-authors, credits this divide to segregation within the Islamic State. "When you get over [to their territory], you're separated by language," she tells VICE, limiting potential Franco-German coordination.
And while many jihadis in Germany today might have some sympathy for the Islamic State, the report highlights numerous factions that predate the notorious caliphate, some by decades. But some long-established groups, like those associated with a Chechen jihadi diaspora, have turned their skills to helping move people into Islamic State territory. Others seem to be communicating with pro-ISIS cliques, but focusing their attention outside of Iraq and Syria, pointing to both longevity and diversity in the German jihadi space.
"I always thought [fundamentalist Muslim groups] were more entrenched in Germany than they were in France," Khan tells me. But she suspects France has faced greater terror because "the French [radical Muslims] had more of a bone to pick with how they were treated in society than the Germans."
Germany's numerous jihadi cells have also likely wrought less local damage at least in part because the nation's police force appears to be more vigilant and effective than, say, their Belgian counterparts. "They can crack down pretty easily, rounding up the usual suspects readily," Khan says.
But the report's authors fear the country's relative calm may not hold given the escalating focus on Germany in Islamic State propaganda. Khan, for one, worries about the number of returnees from Iraq and Syria who are out on bail and awaiting justice in what she describes as backlogged German courts. And the rising tide of right-wing sentiment in the country may also be increasing the attractiveness of an attack for ISIS and local affiliates.
"The Islamic State is very aware that the right wing hates the Islamic population and most of all hates the refugees," Khan says. "It would behoove them to have even a small attack in Germany just to spark [an] extreme overreaction," polarizing society, as they love to do.
Volgens onderzoekers van het Amerikaanse Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), gespecialiseerd in het ontleden van terreurpropaganda- en netwerken, gaat het om de terminal van Düsseldorf. Het risico bestaat dat het om een instructie gaat vanuit IS-bolwerk Raqqa aan een 'eenzame wolf' of een slapende terreurcel om in actie te komen. Bij daders van de Parijse en Brusselse aanslagen werden na de aanslagen ook videobeelden van doelwitten gevonden. Ook op 15 en 17 april werden door IS video's verspreid die individuen of groepen tot aanslagen in Duitsland willen aanzetten.
"Elke stad is kwetsbaar voor simultane aanvallen, ook op soft targets als metro's en shoppingcentra", zegt TRAC-directrice Veryan Khan. "Duitsland lijkt wel goed voorbereid, door regelmatige (politie)acties."Toch is de onderzoekster verontrust. "Ook voor (de aanslagen in) Parijs vorig jaar was er een maandenlange opbouw van propaganda (tegen Frankrijk).Voor Brussel zagen we dat niet, omdat de aanslagen plaatsvonden in de nasleep van Parijs."
Cijfers over het aantal Duitse Syrië-strijders die nu nog een bedreiging vormen, lopen uiteen maar het zijn er volgens verschillende bronnen vele tientallen. In september vorig jaar zei Hans Georg Maassen, het hoofd van de Duitse staatsveiligheid, dat 740 Duitse salafisten naar Syrië en Irak trokken. Minstens 120 van hen zijn gedood, één derde keerde terug onder overheidstoezicht, maar de helft blijft voortvluchtig. Volgens TRAC zijn er in Syrië minstens twee Duitstalige gevechtseenheden.
Veel strijders zijn gelokt door de jihadistische propaganda-organisatie Millatu Ibrahim, opgericht door Oostenrijks haatprediker Mohamed Mahmoud (alias Abu Usama al-Gharib) en Denis Cuspert, de Duitse rapper Deso Dogg. Beiden zouden in Syrië zijn omgekomen, al is dat nooit onafhankelijk bevestigd.
First, the good news: the Islamic State is under pressure and losing territory. The bad news, however, is this is an organisation that thrives on change and adversity, and it is already expanding its sphere of influence in other ways. By JASMINE OPPERMAN and CLEMMIE DOUCHEZ-LORTET.
Not much attention has been paid to Abu Sayyaf’s identification with Islamic State as kidnappings escalate around the Philippine's southern islands, the oldest group of hostages (2 Canadians, 1 Norwegian and 1 Filipina) faced a looming deadline of execution. Yesterday The severed head of a Canadian hostage John Risdel was found on the streets of Samal Island in the Philippines. Factions of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) have captured a growing number of hostages in recent weeks (April 2016) and have issued various execution deadlines and ransom demands. In the video released by Abu Sayyaf, Ridsdel asked the Canadian people and the world to do what was needed to meet the demands of his abductors, saying that otherwise he and the other hostages would be killed. Guest: Veryan Khan Position: Editorial Director for Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium
"There's a priority for the Islamic State to attract females because it offers stability. If you want people to see you as a nation, a legitimate state, it's important to attract females and have them start families," says Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC). "It's not like women are an afterthought. This is a strategic move."
The men implicated in the Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks – both those who committed the crime, and those who have been arrested – were only the sharp end of a jihadist network that stretches from Europe all the way to Syria and Iraq. And it is from Syria, in the safety of the Islamic State’s so-called Caliphate, that these attacks were masterminded. By JASMINE OPPERMAN.
Brüssel – Während die Ermittler fieberhaft nach weiteren Mittätern fahnden, steht für die französische Terrorismus-Expertin Clemmie Douchez-Lortet des US-Forschungszentrums Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) fest: „Der Franzose Salim Benghalem steckt hinter den Anschlägen von Paris und Brüssel.“
Das sagte Douchez-Lortet der belgischen Tageszeitung „De Morgen“. Ihr zufolge soll Salim Benghalem (35) rund 1500 Kämpfer für ISIS rekrutiert haben.
Und: Der Franzose soll engen Kontakt zu diversen ISIS-Terroristen gehabt haben, die in jüngster Vergangenheit Anschläge verübten.
Die Expertin: „Er war ein Mentor für die Kouachi-Brüder, die am 7. Januar 2015 die Redaktionsräume des Satire-Magazins ‚Charlie Hebdo‘ stürmten.“ Außerdem habe er Amedy Coulibaly und Mehdi Nemmouche gekannt, berichtete die französische Zeitung „Le Figaro“: Coulibaly überfiel am 9. Januar 2015 einen jüdischen Supermarkt in Paris, ISIS-Geiselwächter Nemmouche erschoss im Mai 2014 im Jüdischen Museum in Brüssel vier Menschen.
„Le Figaro“ zufolge soll sich der junge Benghalem ab 2002 im Gefängnis (er saß in Fresnes bei Paris wegen versuchten Mordes ein) mit Radikalen der „Butte-Chaumont-Gruppe“ vernetzt und sich dadurch radikalisiert haben. Das irakische Netzwerk rekrutierte im Pariser Stadtteil Butte-Chaumont Kämpfer für den islamistischen Kampf gegen die US-Präsenz im Irak.
Auffällig: Unter anderem auch Cherif Kouachi (32) – der als der radikalere der beiden Brüder, die „Charlie Hebdo“ attackierten, galt – kam bei mehreren Gefängnisaufenthalten mit der Gruppe in Kontakt.
2010 kam Benghalem frei, wurde seitdem von den Geheimdiensten überwacht. Dennoch reiste er 2011 in den Jemen, um eine militärische Ausbildung zu absolvieren – in Begleitung von Cherif Kouachi, wie „De Morgen“ in einem früheren Artikel berichtete.
Nach Angaben der französischen Behörden gelang es dem Franzosen, der neun Sprachen sprechen soll, 2012 auch nach Syrien auszureisen. Laut „De Morgen“ habe er seit diesem Zeitpunkt von Syrien aus Anschläge in Europa geplant.
Weil Benghalem anschließend per internationalem Haftbefehl gesucht wurde, landete er im September 2014 auf der Liste der zehn meistgesuchten Terroristen der USA.
Im Januar 2015 dann eine erste Verurteilung wegen seiner terroristischen Machenschaften – allerdings in Abwesenheit. Die französischen Justiz verurteilte ihn für seine Rolle bei der Rekrutierung junger Franzosen für ISIS zu 15 Jahren Gefängnis.
Propagandavideo, das im Februar 2015 veröffentlicht wurde, mit weiteren Anschlägen, zeigte sich erfreut über die vielen Opfer bei der Attacke auf „Charlie Hebdo“ und appellierte an die „einsamen Wölfe“ in seinem Heimatland, sich gegen die französische Bevölkerung aufzulehnen und zu den Waffen zu greifen.
Für ISIS soll Benghalem aber nicht nur als Stratege tätig sein: Wie viele französische Medien – darunter unter anderem „RTL“ – berichteten, sei der Franzose auch als ISIS-Henker und Gefängniswärter berüchtigt. So berichteten die Franzosen Didier Francois, Edouard Elias, Pierre Torres und Nicolas Henin, die von Juli bis Dezember 2013 von der Terrormiliz als Geiseln gefangen gehalten wurden, wie Benghalem sie befragte – während der spätere Museums-Schütze Mehdi Nemmouche sie folterte.
Lange Zeit galt der Belgier Abdelhamid Abaaoud (28) als einer wenn nicht sogar der führende Kopf hinter den Anschlägen von Paris.
Frankreichs Innenminister Bernard Cazeneuve zufolge spielte Abaaoud „eine entscheidende Rolle“. Der 27-Jährige habe zudem vermutlich bei vier von sechs im Jahr 2015 in Frankreich vereitelten Anschlägen die Fäden im Hintergrund gezogen, sagte der Innenminister am 19. November 2015.
Doch bereits im Januar 2016 kamen Zweifel auf, dass Abaaoud für die Planung der Attacken verantwortlich zeichnete. „De Morgen“ sagte „TRAC“-Direktorin Veryan Khan: „Abaaoud koordinierte die Paris-Angriffe vor Ort, hatte aber nicht die Fähigkeiten, diese im Vorfeld professionell zu planen.“
Abaaoud wurde am 18. November 2015 – nur fünf Tage nach den Anschlägen mit 130 Toten – bei einer im Pariser Vorort Saint-Denis durchgeführten Razzia getötet.
KYIV, Ukraine—The terrorist attacks in Brussels so far have produced an internal evaluation of Belgium’s intelligence and law enforcement missteps, rather than the escalated airstrikes on Islamist targets in Syria that quickly followed the deadly attacks in Paris.
Two days after the Nov. 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, French warplanes hammered the Islamic State, or ISIS, encampments and facilities in Syria.
Days later, a French aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, and its 26 warplanes moved into the Mediterranean, more than doubling France’s airpower in the region.
And on Dec. 3, after a contentious House of Commons debate, British Tornado warplanes launched from a base in Cyprus to hit ISIS targets in Syria. The airstrikes signaled an escalation of Britain’s air campaign, which had previously been limited to Iraq.
Following Tuesday’s terrorist bombings in Brussels, however, Europe’s contribution to the international military campaign to defeat ISIS in the Middle East took a back seat to domestic efforts in Belgium to counter the threat of ISIS militants returning from Iraq and Syria, some potentially under the guise of refugees.
Debates about the merit of airstrikes have given way to scrutiny over intelligence and law enforcement missteps before the Brussels attacks, which killed at least 31 and wounded at least 270.
“When you realize that you are losing the ability to shape things externally, there’s a natural inclination to look inward,” Robin Simcox, The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher fellow, told The Daily Signal.
Operation Inherent Resolve—the international military coalition combating ISIS in Iraq and Syria—has the terrorist army on its heels. The Islamist group has lost about 40 percent of its territory in Iraq, according to the U.S. military.
Some have argued, however, that ISIS losing ground in the Middle East could inadvertently exacerbate the terrorist threat to Europe.
Wall Street Journal columnist Yaroslav Trofimo observed:
That is the alarming paradox of the U.S.-led campaign against the radical group: In the months and even years ahead, an Islamic State faced with defeat in a conventional war may pose a far greater danger to the West than when it was focused on conquering villages in the Euphrates River Valley or the hill country of Aleppo.
“IS will not be defeated on the battlefield alone,” Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, told The Daily Signal, using an alternate acronym for ISIS, also known as ISIL and Daesh.
“The propaganda alone is so entrenched, on every medium from music to film to written word, it could take decades and decades to truly debunk their version of fulfilling prophecy,” Khan added.
Until recently, women in Islamic State have largely been confined to a supporting, sedentary role with only men allowed to do the actual fighting. But these are desperate times, and the Islamist militant group is increasingly entrusting women with direct combat positions. By JASMINE OPPERMAN.
Since its inception, Islamic State (IS) has attracted women to its cause. While men were lured with tales of heroism and battlefield glory, women were drawn to Syria and Iraq with promises of marriage and children; their role, while deemed no less important to the creation of the Caliphate, was restricted to a supporting act.
In February 2014, this began to change with the creation of the all-female al-Khansaa Brigade. Though still not used for frontline operations, the brigade was tasked with policing other females, and swiftly developed a reputation for abusing that power. Only women between the ages of 18 and 25 were permitted to join, and each received a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian lira (less than $200).
A year later, in February 2015, another major development: Islamic State released a document defining the role of women within its borders. The patriarchal nature of the society they are creating is clear in the wording, which advocates that women pursue a sedentary lifestyle in service to their men, described as their “masters”. Women are permitted to become teachers, doctors and nurses – not fighters. However, there is a loophole, with the document saying women may leave the house if the situation of the umma [the broader Islamic community] has become so desperate that a fatwa [religious decree] has been issued permitting women to fight in the name of jihad.
Several recent events have indicated that this fatwa may have been enacted as a tactical reality.
In Libya, in late February/early March this year, seven females were arrested and three others killed in Sabratha. All were Tunisian nationals working in combat roles with the Islamic State in Libya. This is the first documented confirmation that IS is using women on the frontline outside of Syria.
In Syria, the first reports of a female defence unit emerged in late February 2015 (these reports, while credible, have not been confirmed by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium). An activist in the region reported that Nada al-Qahtani, one of the leaders of the Raqqa branch of the al-Khansaa battalion, was appointed to lead a new branch of the unit in Hasakeh. According to the same activist, “she plays a prominent role on the level of communicating with foreign fighters”. Nada al-Qahtani has tweeted in the past her desire to become a suicide bomber and for wives to encourage their husbands also to become suicide bombers.
In Nigeria, while women are not used in traditional combat operations, they have been central to the success of Boko Haram's terrorist attack (Boko Haram pledged allegiance to Islamic State in March 2015). In particular, female suicide bombers have become a Boko Haram signature move. Boko Haram has been using females as couriers and recruiters since 2013 and as suicide bombers since 2014, in areas where penetration is difficult for men.
What conclusions can we draw from these developments?
First, it would be hasty to assume that the role of women in Islamic State is fundamentally changing. A few female fighters here and there do not change the reality of life for women in the self-proclaimed Caliphate: they are overwhelmingly viewed and treated as mothers of the nation rather than fighters for the nation. Even blogger Aqsa Mahmood, a Glaswegian who joined Islamic State, admitted that daily life in the Caliphate was "mundane", and revolves around cooking, cleaning, looking after children and sometimes educating them.
Second, it's important to remember the nature of Islamic State, which is more than a traditional terrorist organisation. Its creation of a functioning state in Iraq and Syria relies on a back-end of teachers, nurses and homemakers, roles traditionally reserved for women. So just as it needs to attract foreign men to its cause to fight, and devotes significant time and resources in doing so, it also needs to attract foreign women to fulfil these less glamorous positions.
Here, however, Islamic State runs into something of a contradiction: many modern women, even those sympathetic to Islamic State's cause, are unwilling to confine themselves to a supporting, subservient position. In this the influence of liberal western values is a major factor, ironically. Therefore Islamic State propaganda works hard to create at least the illusion that women are trusted with weapons, and may have the opportunity to fight – hence the need for visuals of women being trained in weapons use, and sporadic reports of women on the frontlines.
So while Islamic State is offering glimpses, through its propaganda, that the role of women is changing, these should not be taken at face value. Ultimately, women within its borders are still second-class citizens, and that's unlikely to change any time soon. DM
Franse onderzoekster wijst op centrale rol van jihadistisch veteraan Salim Benghalem
De Franse onderzoekster Clemmie Douchez-Lortet is verbonden aan het Amerikaanse Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), gespecialiseerd in het in kaart brengen van terreurorganisaties zoals IS. Volgens hun bevindingen worden de Brusselse en Parijse IS-cellen gestuurd vanuit Syrië door een en dezelfde meesterbrein, de Fransman Salim Benghalem.
Wat weten jullie over de voortvluchtige dader, Najim Laachraoui?
“Hij is samen met Salah Abdeslam de connectie tussen de Parijse en de Brusselse cel. Laachraoui wordt beschouwd als de bommenmaker, die zowel de explosieven maakte voor de aanslagen in België en Frankrijk. Zijn DNA werd aangetroffen op de zelfmoordgordels in het Bataclan-theater en het Stade de France, maar ook in de safe houses waar Abdeslam onderdak vond na de aanslagen. We gaan er van uit dat hij de ‘man in het wit’ is, te zien is op de bewakingsbeelden van Brussels Airport voor de aanslag daar.”
Zijn er mogelijk nog terroristen voortvluchtig?
“De bom die gevonden werd in Schaarbeek kan bedoeld zijn voor een zelfmoordcommando die men nog verwachtte, als we er van uitgaan dat de aanslagen plots werden vervroegd door de arrestatie van Abdeslam. Ze kan ook bestemd zijn geweest voor hun handlanger Mohamed Belkaid, die op 15 maart werd gedood in de Driesstraat te Vorst.”
Werd deze terreuraanslag in Europa gestuurd of in Syrië?
“Er zijn talrijke verbindingen met de Parijse cel, van dezelfde explosieven tot de verbindingsfiguren. Wij gaan er van uit dat er een overkoepelend meesterbrein is die zowel de Parijse als de Brusselse aanslagen vanuit Syrië aanstuurde: Salim Benghalem (zie ook De Morgen van 25 januari). Hij recruteerde meer dan 1500 Syrië-strijders en was eerder al zowel een mentor van Mehdi Nemmouche (de terrorist die op 24 mei 2014 het Joods Museum van Brussel vier mensen doodde) en de Kouachi-broers, die de aanslagen op Charlie Hebdo pleegde. Benghalem, in Frankrijk bij verstek tot 15 jaar veroordeeld, is een jihadi met een lange staat van dienst. Zo was hij in 2010 nog betrokken bij een verijdelde poging om Algerijns terrorist Djamel Beghal te bevrijden uit een Franse gevangenis. Figuren als de gedode Abdelhamid Abaaoud, een gekende drugverslaafde, en Abdeslam Salah waren niet in staat dit alles op het getouw te zetten.”
Met wie werkt Benghalem nog samen in Syrië?
“Er zijn ook de broers Fabien en Jean-Michel Clain, die veel Fransen recruteerden en nu hoog in de IS-hiërarchie staan. De stem van Fabien was diegene die de audioboodschap opnam waarmee de Parijse aanslagen werden geclaimd. Het wordt uitkijken welke jihadi de Brusselse aanslagen opeist.”
Welke opties ziet u om deze planners op te pakken?
“Als ze zich nog in Syrië bevinden kan je enkel aan militaire operaties denken, special forces of gerichte bombardementen.”
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is de zelfverklaarde ‘kalief’ van IS. Wat is zijn rol in de aanslagen?
“Als spirituele leider zal hij ongetwijfeld op de hoogte zijn dat er aanslagen worden gepland maar de operationele planning laat hij over aan zijn topmensen, zoals Benghalem. Al-Baghdadi zelf zal zich vooral concentreren op het verdedigen en uitbreiden van zijn kalifaat, dat nu ook voet aan de grond krijgt in Libië.”
U promoveerde op een proefschrift over zelfmoordaanslagen. Hoe krijgt IS zijn leden zo ver om zelfmoordaanslagen te plegen?
“Het is onmogelijk een blauwdruk te vinden die de beslissing verklaart van iemand om zelfmoordterrorist te worden. Wel een constante is de geperfectioneerde manier waarop IS deze mensen psychologisch manipuleert via sectaire propaganda. Dit zijn meestal mensen die thuis niet meer konden terugvallen op de samenleving maar in Syrië een gelijkgezinde groep vonden. In de IS-video’s en -publicaties die ik bestudeerde wordt het ‘sterven als martelaar’ als eervolle zaak afgeschilderd. Zelfs kinderen wordt dat ingeprent. De kamikazes krijgen voor hun dood ook de belofte dat hun familie geholpen zal worden. Als ze in Syrië wonen krijgen ze daar een huis, een uitkering enz.”.
Tussen de belofte in Syrië en de daad in Brussel, met bv. kinderen rondom je, is toch nog een grote stap. Schakelen zij hun menszijn uit?
“Ze ontmenselijken de anderen. Ze voelen zich niet schuldig als ze niet-moslims doden, die deel uitmaken van het ‘westerse establishment’ dat ze menen te bestrijden. Moslims doden is lastiger maar IS rechtvaardigt ook dit in zijn propaganda: sjieten zijn sowieso vijanden, soennieten die het kalifaat verwerpen ook. Ze zijn zo extreem dat Al Qaida in Syrië, Jabhat al-Nusra, zich nu als gematigde islamisten kan voordoen. Erg cynisch is dat.”
Moeten we hun haat voor de meeste andere moslims niet meer in de verf zetten om hun recrutering tegen te werken?
“Absoluut, we hinken ver achterop in het tegenverhaal voor hun propaganda. Zij tonen hun ‘helden’, hun ‘succesverhalen’,... maar wij brengen geen bekende moslims met een tegenverhaal in stelling. We hebben in het westen dringend nood aan positieve rolmodellen uit de moslimgemeenschap die met de jongeren positief gaan praten over hun toekomstdromen: van politici, zangers, filmsterren tot sporters,... We moeten IS op alle fronten bestrijden maar er voor zorgen dat we de moslimjeugd hier toffe idolen krijgt zou alvast een kleine, en kostefficiënte, stap vooruit zijn.”
“What is certain about Boko Haram is that the organization is very well funded; without an ever-increasing cash flow, the movement would have died out long ago,” the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a research initiative of the reference publisher Beacham Group, said in a report.
On 19 February 2016, the US launched airstrikes in Libya, targeting an Islamic State camp in Sabratha, killing an estimated 50 Islamist militants. Such short-sighted counterterrorism operations will have dire implications for the rest of Africa. By JASMINE OPPERMAN.
In an escalation of its counterterrorism operations in Africa, the US is conducting airstrikes in Libya. On 19 February, about 50 alleged Islamist militants were killed by US planes in an Islamic State (IS) camp in Sabratha. The operation was hailed as a success by US officials.
“We will continue to take actions where there is a clear target in mind,” said US President Barack Obama, justifying the operation and confirming that it is unlikely to be the last.
Such a strategy is at best short-sighted. At worst, it fundamentally misunderstands the nature of the IS presence in Libya, and could exacerbate the situation.
The IS presence in Libya has always been confined to relatively small territorial pockets. Sirte, the late Muammar Gaddafi’s home town, is a stronghold. But the group’s territorial ambitions are hampered in Libya by the already heightened alert on terror-related activities, with regional and international governments, especially Morocco and Algeria, spending vast amounts of money on counterterrorism.
Consequently, instead of expanding territory, IS has focused on simply maintaining a presence in Libya, while extending its reach south. The goal is to create a north-south axis of IS-aligned groups that reaches as far down as southern Africa.
In this context, Libya is not the beginning and end of IS in Africa. Yes, it is a stronghold, but its expansion in Africa does not rely on territorial control. Instead, IS will rely on amplifying its already effective propaganda operation on the continent. Its efforts will only increase as pressure mounts in Syria, Iraq and now Libya.
And the US airstrikes in Libya, far from damaging the group, are only likely to make IS propaganda even more effective. IS and al-Qaeda groups flourish in environments where there are no effective government controls, and where conflict already exists (even if the conflict is not necessarily related to Islamic extremism). Bombings and drones might destroy a camp and kill a few leaders, but it does not provide a quick fix to these existing vacuums.
Bombings also increase anti-Western sentiments. Civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq are well reported, and if the new US airstrikes follow a similar pattern the same can be expected in Libya. In Africa, we’ve already seen how al-Shabaab uses civilian fatalities inflicted by the African Union Mission in Somalia as a potent recruiting tool.
Already, groups like Boko Haram and al-Shabaab rely on asymmetrical warfare and not territorial control. In Africa, everything indicates that IS is following the same pattern. This means targets to bomb will be few and far between, and may even solidify the group’s legitimacy in the eyes of local populations.
There is credible evidence to suggest IS has established presences further south in Africa, even outside of countries like Somalia and Nigeria that have a history of Islamist extremist movements. This extends as far as South Africa, where the propaganda effort (coupled with the likely presence of IS recruiters) has resulted in scores of young people travelling to Syria to join IS.
Central and southern African countries faced with the presence of IS cells and recruiters have a difficult question to answer: how to respond to these “soft threats” posed by IS? The reality is that a mindset focused on responding only to “hard threats”, such as terrorist attacks or attempts to assert territorial control, won’t work. Arrests and prosecutions are all well and good, but unless they are accompanied by some kind of effort to counter IS propaganda — to respond to the undeniable appeal of the group to certain vulnerable portions of populations — it won’t be enough to halt the group’s expansion.
By the same token, neither will US airstrikes. These fail to address the power and stability vacuums which allow IS to flourish, and they may actively deter attempts to instil law and order in the country. At the same time, the airstrikes risk increasing the group’s appeal in other African countries where it already has a presence, by amplifying its propaganda and reinforcing the legitimacy of its anti-western message. DM
Jasmine Opperman is the Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
But Veryan Khan, editorial director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a private firm that collects information on terrorism, says though Twitter may have made a dent, "the bounce back for the Islamic State will be fairly effortless."
"The Islamic State has been preparing their sympathizers for this type of event. Loads of Just Paste Its and Dump To bins as well as 'how to' videos have been circulating over this month on how to create dozens of backup accounts easily including creating false working phone numbers for those using Tor," she said.
Sons of the Caliphate is a small offshoot of the Cyber Caliphate that analysts speculate is a "teen" or "apprentice" division.
Khan says this is the first time an Islamic State-linked group has made a threat — at least publicly — against Zuckerberg. But these groups have made similar threats against Twitter in the past.
Thus far, the Islamic State has attempted to divide Al Shabab internally, producing and distributing six videos which the group has distributed inside Somalia, according to Veryan Khan of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. “I.S. in [Syria] has put in a strong media effort courting Al Shabab membership,” Khan said.
Other broadcast sources come from within. Shaykh Abdulqadir Mumin — a prominent Somali religious leader — has distributed pro-I.S. sermons, although with more of a footprint in the online world. “Mumin’s influence within Al Shabab is limited, essentially confined to Puntland area, but […] his sermons distributed on the Internet also have [a] moderate following,” Khan added.
In October, the Somali splinter group “Sons of Calipha” reportedly distributed pro-Islamic State propaganda materials within Al Shabab’s territory.
Al Shabab’s leadership has not taken these moves lightly. Al Shabab chief Ahmed Diriye called for the arrest of 30 alleged Islamic State sympathizers in October. Mohammed Makkawi Ibrahim, a high-ranking Sudanese Al Shabab terrorist who was responsible for the 2008 assassination of a USAID diplomat, was himself reportedly assassinated in 2015 by Al Shabab following his pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State.
Al Shabab’s actions have the growing appearance of a political purge, yet Kahn rules this out. “A purge within Al Shabab does not seem likely. So far, Ahmed Diriye has prioritized ‘arrests’ out of the ‘negotiate, arrest, or purge’ options.”
Under Al Shabab’s more loosely-distributed leadership arrangement, a widespread purge may not be possible. “A renewed purge now would probably shift more fighters toward [the Islamic State] and not benefit Ahmed Diriye, as was the case with Al Shabab’s former leader [Ahmed Abdi] Godane, because there are likely more mid- and senior-level independent thinkers now than in 2013 Godane years.”
Godane lived with a seven-million dollar bounty on his head for three years until an American drone strike killed him in 2014. During his tenure, he maintained a strict counter-intelligence regime to keep order, in contrast to Diriye, who is more restricted. “Diriye can’t kill all his opposition like Godane did,” Khan said. “Not without many more negative consequences.”
There’s a cultural element, too. In jihadi custom, pledging to another organization — what is referred to as making a bayah — is a permanent commitment. “[Changing allegiance] would reflect on Al Shabab as haram [forbidden]. Al Shabab would have to change leadership in order to have a legitimate new bayah to I.S.,” Khan said.
Al Shabab’s distrust of the Islamic State also likely reflects strategic differences. Indeed, actually holding territory like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — as opposed to fighting within it — is a tall order for a terrorist organization with relatively few fighters. Conquering a “caliphate” would be even taller.
Other risks are harder to ignore. Al Shabab is already dodging American drone strikes and battling a multi-national African Union coalition. The globally-hunted name of “Islamic State” could bring even more unwanted attention. Thus, despite all of the zeal, pomp and propaganda of the Islamic State, Al Shabab will likely keep a relatively lower profile with almost-exclusively local goals.
The Islamic State’s only unique bargaining chip is perhaps its coffers. “I.S., if they wanted to donate, are the richest terrorist group in the world,” Khan says.
But for now, the prospect of cash does not seem to be enticing to Al Shabab, which heavily relies on Somalia’s charcoal trade to make ends meet.
Diriye’s counterpunch has diminished the already-minimal presence of pro-I.S. militants within his organization. “In Somalia, [I.S. has] small numbers. Each of the three main pledges to have come out recently showed roughly a dozen to 20-odd numbers pledging their allegiance [in videos],” Khan said.
But few indicators are truly decisive. Terrorist organizations are often adaptable — and Al Shabab and the Islamic State are both descended from older groups which mutated after coming under sustained attack by stronger powers. Al Shabab developed from the Islamic Courts Union, which splintered after an Ethiopian invasion in 2006. The Islamic State developed from Sunni insurgent groups active during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.
The Islamic State is certainly preparing for the future. A January 2016 video by the group’s Libyan affiliate cryptically outlined its future goals — which included expanding south. “This new video […] is the first direct indication of pressure shifting towards Somalia from Islamic State in Libya,” Khan said.
How to undertake such an expansion remains murky, leaving the timeframe open-ended. “[The] Islamic State does not live in time tables, if they need to expand into an area they will bide their time,” Khan said.
The Islamic State — also known as ISIL or ISIS — use popular Internet services such as Twitter and Facebook to spread propaganda and to attract and train new recruits. The extremist group has used Twitter to celebrate terrorist attacks and publicize executions.
It has been preparing sympathizers for this type of event for awhile, said Veryan Khan, editorial director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a private firm that collects information on terrorism.
“’How to’ videos have been circulating over this month on how to create dozens of back up accounts easily including creating false working phone numbers for those using Tor. I think the bounce back for the Islamic State will be fairly effortless,” she said.
The U.S.-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) reported this week that 41 Islamic State-linked militants and two from rival Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida's affiliate in Syria, were apprehended while posing as refugees. Some of them used false passports, TRAC said in a security update for commercial clients that it shared with VOA.
Nineteen of the 43 jihadists were caught in Turkey but the rest made it into the European Union before being identified, reported TRAC, a consultancy of academics and analysts.
December brought the arrests of several suspected Islamic State militants, according to the TRAC security update. These included a suspect arrested by the Greek coast guard, initially because of "involvement in a migrants’ trafficking ring." "The coast guard found ‘suspicious’ pictures and videos on his mobile phone, with flags and symbols of IS as well as of heavy armament and battlefields in Syria," TRAC reported.
On December 10, Finnish police detained two refugees: 23-year-old Iraqi twin brothers suspected of involvement in a June 2014 IS massacre of up to 1,700 unarmed Iraqi Army soldiers near Tikrit. The brothers were identified from an Islamic State video boasting of the killings, TRAC said.
On December 16 in Austria, the research consultancy found, two Frenchmen were arrested in Salzburg after posing as refugees and using fake Syrian passports. They had traveled from Greece through the Balkans, entering Austria in October. TRAC said the men are suspected of having entered the country "together with members of the cell who carried out the November 13 attacks in the French capital that killed 130 people."
On December 17 in Germany, "31-year-old Syrian Leeth Abdalhmeed was detained at a refugee shelter in Unna-Massen in North Rhine-Westphalia," suspected of IS ties, the consultancy said. At the time, German newspaper Die Welt reported that the man had arrived at the International Red Cross-operated camp December 2 under a different name and with several family members.
“The focus should be on whether these two terror cells and their members are connected to each other and to other self-starter cells or other lone wolf operatives,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of the U.S.-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. “Because these cells operated in such close proximity to one another during the same time period, it seems very likely they crossed paths.”
“Even from the grave, the power of Anwar al-Awlaki cannot be underestimated,” Khan said.
Now US-based terrorism research centre TRAC identifies Frenchman Salim Benghalem as the real ringleader behind the atrocities that claimed 130 lives.
But French authorities have long suspected that the plot must have emanated from Syria and TRAC Director Veryan Khan agrees.
"Abaaoud was the on-site coordinator but according to our sources didn't have control of the capacity to carry out a very professional attack on such a scale," she told Belgian newspaper De Morgen (in Dutch).
26 January 2016 | Khaleej Times | News
Social Media War on Dash Should Go Global
Dozens of Daesh accounts appear on Twitter every day, according to Veryan Khan, a leading expert, who closely monitors Twitter activity of the group. The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), the US-based agency she works for says there are 6,000 Daesh ‘con rmed’ accounts in 13 languages. Veryan also studies the group’s recruitment pat- terns. There are over 300,000 Daesh random accounts on social media which send out thousands of mes- sages to wannabe terrorists in remote corners of the world. ‘‘The real question is how many of those 300K accounts (not our 6,000 because we manually check) are real people? Daesh uses a lot of “bots” to auto-push up their presence online,’’ she says.
Veryan says Sawab is a good start. But officially branded national govern- ment campaigns can prove tricky be- cause they are usually met with suspi- cion and scepticism from those they are meant to target.
“Even if its possible to entirely cen- sor Daesh’s message on social media, the pendulum would not shift away from the global messages already in circulation.”
One critical miscalculation made by most governments is to look for one sin- gle catch-all counter-narrative to battle Daesh’s narratives which run into hun- dreds. ‘’No one message can be created to alleviate this cancer to society at large, no one agency can manage this e ort, no one country can combat it on their own, no single individual can persuade,’’ says the online counter-terror expert.
There is also a virtual ‘‘collective Daesh fan club’’ that not only offers an “undergird’’ for the propaganda machine but also holds an imaginary world of acceptance, love and community for potential recruits’’. If you ignore or un- derestimate this virtual community Daesh followers, you are making a big mistake, says Veryan.
With Twitter being under close watch for suspicious Daesh activity, the group has moved to Telegram to spread their message and contact po- tential recruits. Telegram is used more by not only Daesh supporters, but mil- itants in the eld. The group uses Tele- gram rst to post images and videos, according to TRAC.
There are just too many features Telegram o ers that are critical to get- ting messages across — like being able to download a le of any size without needing an external URL. Encryption and secret chats that auto-destruct af- ter reading make Telegram attractive to Daesh.
Salim Benghalem was “the brain” behind the bloody attacks on November 13, while Abdelhamid Abaaoud was only a “coordinator,” Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) told Belgian newspaper De Morgen.
Benghalem prepared the attacks from Syria, where he has lived since 2013, TRAC says.
“What is described as a group or a cell is in fact a large company that uses the same network logistics to bring its terrorists from Syria to Europe,” Veryan Khan, the director of TRAC, told De Morgen.
She added that Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was killed during the operation in Saint-Denis on November 18, “wasn’t capable, according to our information, to conduct attacks on such a large scale”.
Et si Abdelhamid Abaaoud n'avait pas eu le rôle qu'on lui prêtait ? Selon le journal De Morgen, le terroriste qui a été tué à Saint-Denis par le Raid après avoir dirigé le commando des terrasses, la nuit du 13 novembre, n'est peut-être pas l'architecte des attentats simultanés de Paris. Le journal, qui interroge les enquêteurs du Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (Trac), avance en effet un tout autre nom : Salim Benghalem, autre djihadiste français bien connu des services spécialisés, condamné en son absence début janvier à quinze ans de prison pour sa participation à une filière d'acheminement de combattants en terre de djihad. C'est ce même Salim Benghalem qui se réjouissait, dans une vidéo diffusée sur Internet en février 2015, des attentats commis contre Charlie Hebdo par les frères Kouachi qu'il côtoyait.
« Ce qui à chaque attentat est décrit comme un groupe ou une cellule est en fait une grande entreprise qui utilise le même réseau logistique pour amener ses terroristes depuis la Syrie jusqu'en Europe », explique au journal la directrice du Trac, Veryan Khan. Abdelhamid Abaaoud « était sur place comme coordinateur, mais ne disposait pas, selon nos informations, de la capacité de mener des attentats aussi professionnels à si grande échelle », ajoute-t-elle. Avant de qualifier Salim Benghalem de véritable cerveau des opérations.
Terrorists can already access a number of technical manuals on how to encrypt their data and communications, according to Veryan Khan, Editorial Director of its Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
AQIM-Kämpfer entführen Europäer, schmuggeln Menschen, Zigaretten und Drogen und verüben Anschläge. Dem Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) zufolge soll AQIM in den vergangenen zehn Jahren mehr als 50 Millionen Dollar durch Geiselnahmen eingenommen haben. Dass AQIM und verbündete Gruppen derzeit wieder stärker werden, sei auch dem Ausnahmezustand in Libyen geschuldet, meint der tunesische Maghreb-Experte Kamal Ben Younes im DW-Interview: "Diese Gruppen operieren in 23 Ländern in ganz Nordafrika. In diesen Ländern kursieren viele schwere Waffen, die vom Gaddafi-Regime in Libyen übrig geblieben sind." Schwere Waffen würden nun durch die Hände der verschiedenen Terrormilizen im ganzen Sahel gehen - bis nach Burkina Faso.
The Islamic State successfully uses many types of media to reach out to possible recruits, say those who follow its efforts.
“They talk about every single topic there is, on every single media out there, in almost every language. They use audio, video, infographics, photos, everything imaginable,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director with the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a private firm that collects information on terrorism.
These groups also are very good at finding people who feel alienated and alone.
“They create a warm, loving environment so people feel wanted and important," Khan said. "They give people a place where they belong. That’s the crucial second part, to go along with the rest of the Islamic State’s official, slick propaganda."
Commentators disagree about how serious and widespread the Islamic State's apocalyptic beliefs are. Their own documents apparently claim that many of their rank-and-file aren't exactly great Muslims. Saritoprak believes that apocalyptic theology is just something the State manipulates to justify itself, inspire its followers, and poach impressionable, excitable minds. But there seems to be some evidence that at least major decision makers in the State deeply believe in their own apocalyptic rhetoric. That means that to these true believers, Jesus is a prophet of special and impending importance in the Islamic State. The Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium says that they've seen photos of billboards from Islamic State territory admonishing their subjects to mind the example of Christ, and heard his name mentioned in at least one State-produced video concerning their worldview. Their analysts see parallels between the actions of the Islamic State and the path to the return of Christ.
“Es cierto que el aumento de la captación de jóvenes no es exclusivo de una sola nación, pero ya desde 2014 se venía notando como habían aumentado los esfuerzos por reclutar a hispanohablantes”, explica a El Huffington Post Veryan Khan, directora editorial del Consorcio de Análisis e Investigación en Terrorismo (TRAC, por sus siglas en inglés). Como prueba de ello, Khan alude a un vídeo publicado por el Estado Islámico precisamente ese año, en el que se hace una referencia explícita a España “la tierra de nuestros antepasados”, según dice el joven yihadista que lo protagoniza. “Con el poder de Alá la liberaremos”, sentencia.
Por su parte, para detener el “terror” del Estado Islámico, Khan es clara: “Una fuerza militar por sí sola no puede detenerlo”. En opinión de esta experta de lo que se trata es de actuar lanzando mensajes contra la maquinaria ideológica de los yihadistas: “Hay que lanzar una narrativa coherente, que ponga en evidencia cómo existen mejores alternativas que sumarse a la idea del ISIS”.
25 November 2015 | Vertigo | News
<Estado Del Terror
A juicio de Veryan Khan, directora del Con- sorcio de Análisis e Investigación en Terrorismo (TRAC, por sus siglas en inglés), los recientes atentados en París tendrán distintas ramifica- ciones e impactos que provocarán un cambio en el terreno de lo político.
En el caso de Estados Unidos, con un escenario claramente preelectoral, “se pondrá en el eje el debate sobre los riesgos de un ata- que coordinado. Sin embargo, es prematuro afirmar que los atentados cambiarán o mar- carán completamente el rumbo de esas elec- ciones”, señala.
“Mense is naïef as hulle dink IS spits hulle nie op Suid-Afrika toe nie, hulle soek juis ons tieners,” sê Jasmine Opperman, Afrika-direkteur by die Konsortium vir Terrorismenavorsing en -ontleding (TRAC).
Die tieners se ouers het agtergekom dat hul kinders tydens persoonlike gesprekke en op sosiale netwerke die terreurorganisasie se optrede en stellings ondersteun. Die tieners het blykbaar op IS-propagandamateriaal afgekom terwyl hulle op hul persoonlike sosialenetwerkrekeninge was.
Die bekommerde ouers het toe TRAC genader om hul kinders te oortuig om IS se ideologie te verwerp.
“Die ouers het gelukkig die probleem vroeg genoeg geïdentifiseer en dit maak die kans vir suksesvolle deradikalisering moontlik,” sê Opperman.
Die “deradikaliseringsproses” is nie daarop gemik om IS se ideologie te verkleineer nie, want die ondersteuners glo dat dit reg is. Die doelwit van die behandeling is om ondersteuners te oortuig om in die land te bly omdat hier meer geleenthede is. Hulle kan ook hier vreedsaam hul geloof uitleef, wat 'n beter alternatief is as om in Sirië en Irak te gaan veg, sê Opperman.
Die department van staatsveiligheid sê hulle is bewus van IS-propaganda wat aanlyn gesirkuleer word.
“Ons sal aanhou om die situasie in Suid-Afrika, SAOG-lande en reg oor die wêreld te monitor, maar ons stel voor dat almal versigtig is wanneer hulle op sosiale netwerke is,” sê Brian Dube, woordvoerder van die department.
Opperman sê IS is teenwoordig in Suid-Afrika en dat die jong mense meer gereeld deur dié terreurorganisasie genader word.
Hoewel IS se hoofteikengroep wêreldwyd jong mense tussen die ouderdomme van 16 en 24 is, word jong Suid-Afrikaners tussen 15 en 20 jaar oud genader om die wapen vir dié organisasie op te tel.
Mense word nie net na IS deur sosiale netwerke gelok nie. Daar is Suid-Afrikaners wat webwerwe het wat mense help om hulle by IS aan te sluit, maar regstreekse werwing gebeur die meeste by skole, sê Opperman.
Volgens Trac se IS-aktiwiteitopname in Suid-Afrika is die terreurorganisasie veral doenig in Johannesburg, Kaapstad en Port Elizabeth.
Tog is jong mense nie IS se enigste teikengroep in Suid-Afrika nie
Aqeel Kloberie (44), ’n Suid-Afrikaner, is verlede week ontmasker as ’n leier van IS in die Baiji-gebied, noord van Tikrit in Irak, nadat sy rybewys in sy broek gevind is toe hy blykbaar Donderdag deur die Irakse weermag doodgeskiet is. Opperman sê sy dood is nog nie bevestig nie.
23 November 2015 | Primedia Broadcasting | Radio News
Jasmine Opperman, [former] director of the Terrorism Research and Analyst Consortium (TRAC), says South Africa is not immune to terrorism and should not underestimate the ability of local terror cells to unexpectedly attack.
According to Opperman, terror cells have improved their ability to organise themselves, recruit young people, spread their ideology and access weapons.
It becomes more and more difficult for intelligence services to detect potential attacks of terror - and South Africa is not immune. The voice of Isis is present in South Africa, people are moving to the caliphate.
— Jasmine Opperman, Director of Trac Africa
Listen to the full conversation from CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:
“It is also very important to note that Isis has not released a statement about his death yet,” says Jasmine Opperman, the Africa representative of Trac. “This is very significant,” she says, adding that her peers in Baghdad have had no reports of a dead South African, as of Saturday afternoon.
“I have also been tracking Telegram (the other social media platform that is more often used by the Isis supporters and fighters) and there is nothing there that is announcing his death.”
Kloberie’s wife, Salma Gordan, has refused to say with certainty whether her husband is in fact dead.
“I cannot confirm this,” she said, when speaking to the Financial Mail on Saturday.
When asked if she was still married to Kloberie when he allegedly left SA earlier this year to work in Bahrain, and if she regarded herself as still married to him, she responded with an emphatic “yes”.
However, she refused to say whether she too was an Isis supporter.
“I cannot comment on this,” she said, adding that she was in the process of appointing a spokesman who would speak on her behalf next week.
Though three is hardly a huge number of South Africans fighting for Isis and certainly not cause for alarm at this stage, Opperman says it is important to note that the support for Isis grows at an alarming pace. “And secondly, three people talking to three support bases in SA is not insignificant.”
Analyst Jasmine Opperman, director of African Operations at Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, similarly dismisses the possibility. She regularly monitors social media traffic from various international terror groups and has seen little activity on their sites since the hotel attack. Nor does she believe ISIS is likely to be responsible. “They wish they could be that strong in Mali at this point,” she says. While some independent groups may have expressed support for ISIS, the organization does not have the operational presence on the ground to pull off a sophisticated hostage situation in a premium hotel in one of the most fortified parts of the capital.
Opperman points to the little known Macina Liberation Front (MLF) as a group that bears watching in the hours ahead. The MLF took credit for a hotel siege in the central Malian town of Sevare that killed 13 people, including five UN peacekeepers, in August, and has attempted to derail a tentative peace agreement between the Malian government and the country’s northern rebel groups. But al-Murabitoon also claimed credit for that attack, another indication of intra-group rivalry. The MLF claims to be seeking to reestablish a 19th century Islamic kingdom that ruled over parts of Mali and neighboring Mauritania. Despite their historical claims and violent tactics, says Opperman, they are mainly interested in controlling the lucrative smuggling routes of southern Mali. “They are all about money, all about profit making,” she says.
19 November 2015 | The Associated Press (AP) | News
RADICAL'S TRANSFORMATION MAY HAVE BEGUN IN PRISON
Abaaoud came onto the international radar as a radical Muslim combatant for the first time in February 2014, said Jasmine Opperman, a senior director with the independent Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
TRAC analysts last pinpointed Abaaoud in Syria in October 2014, fighting with a Libyan group named Katiba al Bittar, Opperman told AP. But his major focus reportedly lay elsewhere. French officials said he is believed to have links to two terrorist acts in their country earlier this year that were thwarted, one against a Thalys-high speed train, the other apparently targeting a church in suburban Paris.
Looking for answers about just how felt the recent bombardment on Raqqa has been, and how we should read accounts coming in on the city, VICE reached out to Veryan Khan, the editorial director of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC). We asked her to use her knowledge of activist and jihadi communications channels, strategies, and analyses to fill us in on what we can and can't know about how these airstrikes are affecting the city's day-to-day.
VICE: Based on what you're seeing and hearing these days, do you think Raqqa is really feeling or suffering viscerally from the latest string of post-Paris airstrikes? Varyan Khan: [Islamic State] photo reports from the last couple of days have all been life-is-normal—going to the laundromat, cleaning the streets, building a bridge. If they're feeling the effects of airstrikes, they're doing their best to distract us by showing us the good life, as they always love to do.
These airstrikes would probably cripple someplace like New York. If we had a couple of bridges taken out in one day, we'd be devastated. It'd take us months to get that back together. Not the Islamic State. It's like business as usual... just build up a new bridge. In areas that they control heavily like Raqqa and Mosul, they really are that efficient. They have plenty of backhoes and forklifts that they can use to rebuild things very quickly.
If [airstrikes] pound the shit out of [Raqqa], it's not going to get [the French] what they want. They're going to swing a lot of people toward ISIS, like the barrel bombs of [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad. That swung a lot of people toward ISIS. ISIS loves to show dead babies.
Do you think we're holding back from doing the serious damage that would make the airstrikes deeply felt because we're trying to avoid human casualties?
I think that we have been cognizant about doing too much damage to the nation that they could never bounce back from. And if they take out too many civilians, it's going to get out. Think about Pakistan, how we tried with drone strikes to not make such a big deal about the collateral damage [and it didn't work]. That's always going to be your problem with Raqqa.
Do you think earlier airstrikes had more of an effect on life and stability in Raqqa? No.
Yet media accounts and activists say the airstrikes are leading people to flee; Raqqa Is Being Silently Slaughtered [an activist group providing information to the Western media] says IS fighters are taking cover, running scared. Do you not buy that? If so, why? I saw a tiny couple of mentions about [people fleeing] on Twitter, but they were all rumors.
Raqqa Is Being Silently Slaughtered has always had an agenda. I'm not slamming on them. They do good work, and in many cases it's the only voice we have coming out of Raqqa that's not Islamic State. But they've suffered their own losses. They have just cause to make the Islamic State seem less than it is and the Islamic State has just cause to seem bigger than they are.
[IS fighters] might actually be running. Hell, if I was just a civilian fighter and I hadn't been paid in a while and airstrikes were coming I'd [take off] my uniform and run. Doesn't mean I'm not going to come back and fight.
Until we see photo reports about people leaving [we have to doubt those claims]. But honestly, where do they have to go? Think about the refugee crisis here. If you haven't left Syria already, you're just migrating within the country at this point. That happened a lot before the big mass migration that we're seeing now—people just shifted locations as one area became a little safer than others. That could still be happening, but I still think they don't have many places to go.
The Islamic State says everything's fine. Activists say everything's a mess. Do we have any way to verify which narrative, or in-between, is correct beyond what we've talked about? No. Unless you start seeing things from satellite imagery, like mass migrations out of there—which I don't think you're going to see. The only other option is anecdotal evidence.
Telegram is the most reliable source of getting Islamic State information today. [Telegram is currently trying to shut down Islamic State accounts on its site. — Ed.] You used to see a lot of selfie and grainy footage of [...] destruction on their end to prove that they were battle-hardened. But now everything's scripted. [Still,] I think monitoring Telegram and what the Islamic State's putting out—and what it's not—is always most critical in understanding where they're trying to direct your attention. Last week after [they lost] Sinjar, you saw the Islamic State trying really hard to push your attention out of al-Sham, toward Beirut and Paris.
And we're not seeing the kind of diversion you'd expect if things in Raqqa were rough? Unless you think a [Raqqa] laundromat is distracting.
Basically, it's probably horrible living in a city at war, but you don't think the airstrikes are doing much to change the lived reality in Raqqa, which is mitigating damage well? Yeah, bouncing back easy.
“Even though some of the Islamic State channels were taken off Telegram, they were quickly able to reorganize and launch new channels,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director for The Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. “Within 5 minutes, the Islamic State was back on line.”
Khan said she is concerned that the Islamic State, which appeared to be operating openly for its followers on Telegram, now appears to be going underground, a concern those who track terrorism.
“They could go completely dark at some point,” Khan said. “In a way, it is scarier not to see them at all, rather than to see what they are doing.”
The new feature allows users to create a Twitter-style feed to communicate text, images and video. In just a matter of weeks, more than 200 major, mainstream jihadi channels appeared on Telegram, many with ISIS affiliations, but also an increasing number of channels from other major players in the global jihadi world, Khan said. They broadcast in a dozen languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Bosnian, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Kurdish, Russian, Turkish and Urdu.
Telegram is proving a useful tool for terrorists, Khan said. “From Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to Jabhat al-Nusra to Ansar al-Sharia in Libya to Jaysh al-Islam, the rate of membership escalation for each discrete channel is staggering,” Khan said. “Within a week's time, one single Islamic State channel went from 5,000 members to well over 10,000 members. Though it is unclear if what is commonly referred to as ‘the ISIS fan club’ will migrate to Telegram, what is clear is that the hard core disseminators already have.”
Khan noted that it took the Telegram users lobbying Telegram directly to get the company to act on Wednesday. The company didn’t initiate the action on its own, according to its own statement on Twitter crediting its users.
These sometimes overlapping groups are called "hunters," said Veryan Khan, editorial director with the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a private firm that collects information on terrorism.
"Hunting groups are volunteer cyber militias," she said. Based all over the world, "they like to play Whack-a-Mole, their funnest thing in the whole world is to go in and take these groups down."
19 November 2015 | The Financial Mail | News
French terror attacks 1: The enemy is an idea
According to Jasmine Opperman, a senior analyst with the US-headquartered Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (Trac), there are other African countries that are more prone than SA to a jihadist attack right now, such as Tunisia, Nigeria, Libya and Somalia. But that still does not allow for complacency to set in.
Russia, a close ally of SA, started bombing Syria in September shortly after a Russian aeroplane carrying hundreds of passengers crashed in Egypt, allegedly brought down by Isis. SA was also a signatory to the UN 1973 Resolution that resulted in the demise, and ultimate death, of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, a martyr in the eyes of jihadists. "And people’s memories work in different ways," Opperman says.
Trac is a private organisation that researches the organisational capabilities of terrorist groups and those that orchestrate political violence. Though it has profiled more than 4800 such organisations, Isis is obviously topping its agenda of late, and Opperman, who comes from an intelligence background, monitors the jihadists’ activities across Africa.
She has closely studied Isis since it was formed in April 2013, as well as the caliphate, or Islamic government, it declared on June 29 a year later. Throughout, she has been struck by "the fast and furious" way the "idea of Isis and its operations" have subsequently spread under its commander-in-chief, or caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Opperman has watched cells in the Middle East, Africa and Europe triple in number on social media platforms within the space of a few hours. She has tracked how chat rooms lure people who are "generally young, and, unlike [followers of] Al-Qaeda, tend be ill-informed and often not very religious, but who in all cases are highly impressionable. And that makes them more radical and even more dangerous."
She watches how they are flocking to support this latest war on the West, "but not all of them by going to Syria, and that’s the point we are missing now" in the retaliation on the part of France and the US in the wake of the assault on Paris last week.
Of the estimated 40 000 fighters spread across Isis, it is thought that half are foreigners, the bulk of them drawn from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey, as well as mainland Europe.
"Bombing Syria does not weaken or break the narrative of Isis. While Syria and Iraq are being bombed right now, the idea of Isis is spreading across Europe. Make no mistake.
"If we look more closely at the Paris attacks, we must know that the biggest dangers are not those who are flocking to Syria, but those who have returned and are spreading the word across Europe now among these disenchanted and agitated young people."
Opperman spends many hours of her day on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and more recently Telegram, on the site that Isis fighters or supporters have begun to call home.
As recently as Sunday night, she picked up the communication of two SA men in Syria, boasting on Twitter that Paris deserved what it had got and that Isis must continue to wipe out the West. "I can tell you with absolute certainty they were South African and in Syria. Of that I am 100% sure. And they are totally committed and ideologically convinced. One of them has been there for over a year now, the other for about six months."
On the prospects of such individuals inciting support among fellow South Africans, she believes "they are in touch with families and friends. Of that there is no doubt. But we have no evidence that they are calling them to action, or that their networks would respond if they did."
Opperman is also confident that the number of South Africans supporting the Isis cause is minimal, "for now at least".
Since 2013, three SA families have relocated to the caliphate; one from Cape Town, one from Port Elizabeth and one from Bela Bela, she says. "But it is important to state that these people are not fighters but instead people who believe in the caliphate and want to raise their families there."
About the possibility of support for Isis growing in SA, she is cautious to express an opinion. The country is not known for radical imams, she says, and though there have been calls to support jihadism, there has been no overt support for Isis.
"But the word is already here, through propaganda, social media platforms and our TV sets. All you need is one, or a few, individuals to react to it, and it [will be] here in a different way." She also points to the fact that "we were [said] to have harboured supply lines to Al-Shabaab in the past, and that has yet to be disputed".
On a general note, Opperman is of the view that Isis has reserves — both financial and in terms of weapons supplies — to last for another five or so years, "and that’s not counting the arms and wings of Isis that now exist in Europe and elsewhere", making it difficult to destroy what is arguably one of the biggest threats to modern-day Europe and the US.
17 November 2015 | WGBH Boston | Radio News
< Gov Baker: "I’m not interested in accepting refugees from Syria"
Governor Charlie Baker in September said Massachusetts was willing to shelter some of the Syrian refugees. But that was before the Paris terrorism attacks. There is the fear that at least one of the Paris attackers made his way into France with the flow of Syrian refugees through Greece. And Veryan Khan says concerns about Syrian immigration serving as a portal for ISIS infiltration is a legitimate fear.
“Today there are only six known reported cases, actual case studies of Islamic State people hidden within the migrant community.”
But says Khan, who heads up TRAC, an anti-terrorism research organization, the prospect of infiltration should not be a reason to completely halt the resettlement of Syrians to this country and to New England. She says that would hand terrorists a major victory in their efforts to further destabilize the Middle East and it would undermine America’s implicit commitments to the world’s dispossessed.
Finally, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a man known as Reda, arrested in September 2015, already had plans to attack a concert hall in Paris during a live event. Before he left Syria, he was instructed by the Islamic State to conduct the attack and to get in touch with a handler in Paris upon arrival. Although Reda was arrested, his handler remains at large, suggesting that Reda might have been sent from Syria to join an already embedded cell within Paris.
“Given recent events, it is clear that the group is expanding its horizons and increasingly targeting a far enemy. The sheer coordination to pull off an attack of this scale … without detection by the French authorities shows an ability that ISIS has only ever talked about in the past," says Veryan Khan, editorial director at TRAC. "It is certain that the attacks on the far enemy are used to distract from battlefield losses.”
“The video is a clear threat to Russia, and to a certain extent to other Western countries,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the U.S.-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. “The Islamic State claims they will reach the Kremlin and bring it down.”
“Many threats are being issued against Russia because of their intervention in Syria since September, and this video is clearly just one more threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin,” Khan said. Khan believes the video should be carefully analyzed to reveal clues about the group's intention for future attacks and expansion plans. The Islamic State shows a map of their planned takeover, while pledging: "We will take through battle the lands of yours we wish. So much of your lands... We will make your wives concubines and make your children our slaves.”
“By showing that they have state-like powers, that their fighters are a real army and not mere disorganized combatants, and that they operate as such, the Islamic State is attempting to impress and instill fear in the populations it targets as its enemies,” Khan said. “They are showing that they are a force to be reckoned with.”
Russian, American and coalition forces have been battling the Islamic State, and the blood-thirsty terrorists have been losing ground in Syria, Sinjar, AlHawl and Aleppo, said Jasmine Opperman, an analyst for the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium's headquarters in Africa.
“This video is part of a propaganda campaign diverting attention from their losses,” said Opperman, predicting, “ISIS will become more aggressive in their presence and activities in Wilayahs such as Afghanistan, Libya and Nigeria, culminating in more attacks, more than likely suicide bombings on public places.”
“The new frontier of jihadi communication is taking place on a Telegram – a recently launched messaging platform that has revolutionized the social media sphere, and at least for now put an end to any watchdog oversight,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director for The Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. “Because of Telegram, jihadists no longer have to struggle to keep up with relentless account suspensions and content removal.”
The messaging application went live Aug. 14, 2013, but it wasn't until Telegram launched a "channels" feature in Sept. 2015, that TRAC witnessed a massive migration from other social media sites, with Telegram becoming “an underground railroad for distributing and archiving jihadi propaganda materials.” The new feature allows users to create a Twitter-style feed to communicate text, images and video with mass. In just a matter of weeks, more than 200 major, mainstream jihadi channels appeared on Telegram, many with ISIS affiliations, but also an increasing number of channels from other major players in the global jihadi world, Khan said. They broadcast in a dozen languages, including Arabic, Bengali, Bosnian, English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Kurdish, Russian, Turkish and Urdu.
“From Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to Jabhat al-Nusra to Ansar al-Sharia in Libya to Jaysh al-Islam, the rate of membership escalation for each discrete channel is staggering,” Khan said. “Within a week's time, one single Islamic State channel went from 5,000 members to well over 10,000 members. Though it is unclear if what is commonly referred to as ‘the ISIS fan club’ will migrate to Telegram, what is clear is that the hard core disseminators already have.”
Nearly half the channels TRAC has archived belong to the ISIS, Khan said. Those channels have followers throughout the world.
“Many of them have thousands of members, who seem to regularly access the posted message," Khan said. "Messages in these channels get as many as 6,000 views in real time.”
"The Telegram founders promote themselves as the beacon of Internet privacy, but in reality, they've create a platform that is tailor-made for any illegal activity -- most especially jihadists who seek to recruit, finance their terror and disseminate their propaganda," Khan said.
“The Islamic State is following the same prototype as organized crime networks. Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. "No matter what the cash flow is for the Islamic State, we need to be painstakingly watching the flow in and the flow out, disrupting whenever possible, be it fighters, oil or goods.”
05 November 2015 | NBC Local Affiliate | News
Reports of UC Merced Suspect Ties to Terrorism Shot Down
The organization called Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) which monitors ISIS and other terrorist-related groups on social media said there may have been support for Faisal Mohammed from users who like the violent group.
Veryan Khan with TRAC said they put Faisal Mohammed's name in Arabic in Twitter and found links to his name to people who support ISIS. At this point, however, it's unknown if Mohammed was even Muslim. Chancellor Leland said it would be irresponsible to draw conclusions based on his ethnicity.
Khan said, "The initial tweets were favorable of his actions, but I would not necessarily be able to link them to Islamic State (ISIS). What I can link is some of the retweets coming from those initial tweets looked very sympathetic to Islamic State, based on their followers and other things that they have tweeted in the past."
05 November 2015 | Fox National News | News
< ISIS-linked tweet praises Calif. university stabber as details on his background emerge
The Twitter account on which the attack was praised appears to be one of thousands that regularly reference ISIS, according to Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), which translated the message. Veryan Khan, of TRAC, which monitors ISIS and other groups on social media, said ISIS has called for stabbings in recent days, but could not say what motivated Wednesday's attack.
"In Mid-October, over a mere 3 days, the Islamic State released nineteen videos encouraging Palestinians stabbing attacks on Israel," Khan said. "The media campaign coincides with a wave of renewed violence between Israel and Palestine, after a wave of seemingly lone wolf attacks by Palestinians targeting Israelis."
03 November 2015 | Fox National News | News
Stronghold for terror: Russian plane crash puts spotlight on lawless Sinai
Terror attacks in the Sinai Peninsula occur about every five days, according to Veryan Khan, editorial director of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. She said ISIS is increasingly bold, targeting villages near major cities with medium and heavy weaponry.
Relations between the Egyptian government and the Sinai population have been deteriorating due to a lack of involvement and investment from the government in the region, providing ISIS with a springboard to recruit and radicalize the population of the Sinai, Khan said. In addition, ISIS in the Sinai was able to kill two generals of the Egyptian Army during a widespread anti-terrorism campaign launched by the Egyptian government "Martyrs of Right" operation, giving a poor image of the Egyptian government, seen as unable to stem the terrorist problem in the Sinai, she said.
Terror Jihadi groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda are now shifting much of their social media propaganda, recruiting and fund transferring from mainstream social media sites like Twitter to a service called Telegram, according to a new report by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
ISIS and other militant groups have been jumping from one social media service to another in their attempts to avoid anti-terrorism programs by governments and corporations. They appear to have settled on Telegram. “The Jihadis’ struggle to keep up with the relentless suspensions and removal of jihadi social media content may have finally run its course,” says Veryan Khan, the Editorial Director at TRAC. “The new frontier of jihadi communication is taking place on a recently launched tool, in a messaging platform that has revolutionized the social media sphere.”
Telegram was launched in August 2013 by the two Russian brothers, Nicolay and Pavel Durov, as a free encrypted instant messaging service. While reports of terror groups using Telegram surfaced months ago, a new feature called “Channels” was launched in September to let users broadcast to other members of the service. It quickly turned Telegram into the favorite social media hub of ISIS and other terror groups.
“It is this new feature that has been enthusiastically embraced by many militant groups, becoming an underground railroad for distributing and archiving jihadi propaganda materials,” the TRAC report says.
“The sheer scale and momentum of the Telegram migration is hard to fathom,” says Brian Watts, an author of the TRAC report. “The force of the numbers using Telegram channels is staggering, watching hundreds of new members in an hours' time; thousands coming on in over a few days is commonplace for many channels.”
The rapid shift to Telegram by ISIS and other groups represents a wholesale change to terrorists’ communication style, Watts adds. ISIS’s popular website for video circulation, ISDARAT, has five Telegram channels. ISDARAT is often shut down by authorities, but with Telegram's guarantee of permanence, and the capacity to transfer any type of file via a channel, ISDARAT no longer needs to hide.
As a result, Telegram and its chat feature have become essential to ISIS’s recruiting efforts — and to its money-moving activities. While it has been possible to transfer funds via text message in the past, Telegram makes that type of exchange more appealing. The service is encrypted and it offers a feature that allows users to set messages to “self-destruct” after a certain period of time. Accounts can also be eliminated after periods of inactivity. Additionally, sending payments in bitcoin allows both senders and recipients to remain anonymous, and bots developed to handle transfers of crypto-currency can make it even harder to track who is moving money around the world.
“The use of Telegram and other messaging applications to transfer funds (and other assets of value) is expected to be a rapidly changing environment that will require constant monitoring,” says Bethany Rudibaugh, another author of the report.
Olga Bogorad is an Africa intelligence analyst at Max Security Solutions, a geopolitical risk-consulting firm based in the Middle East. The author is grateful to Jasmine Opperman (director for Africa, TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) for information on the smuggling routes in Mali.
During a Unite Nations (UN) meeting in New York on 1 October, Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop stated that drug trafficking is a significant impediment to the country’s peace and security efforts as it remains a major source of funding for non-state armed actors. Indeed, weak government structures, porous borders and a deteriorating humanitarian situation, coupled with internal conflicts and growing extremism, facilitated by the widespread proliferation of small arms, have created a sense of fragility in Mali, transforming its northern regions into a focal point of organised crime and illicit trafficking. However, despite the longstanding perception that the trafficking infrastructure is mainly restricted to the north, several recent developments have shown that there is an emerging threat of a spillover into Mali’s centre and south.
Mali has long played a significant role as a transit point for the trafficking of drugs, including cocaine and opiates, from South America and Asia into Europe, as well as for arms and human smuggling throughout the African continent. While the roots of illegal smuggling can be traced to the 1970s, modern domestic smuggling activity has been affected by a number of factors. First, Mali is a landlocked and desperately poor country, located in the heart of West Africa and surrounded by neighbours who are also experiencing the same problems of instability, growing extremism and high levels of criminality. The inability of the Malian forces to establish effective law enforcement agencies facilitated the creation of vast ungoverned spaces and porous borders in the northern regions. This, in turn, created a situation in which domestic and regional armed elements seeking profit from illicit activities can operate with impunity and relative freedom.
Second, widespread corruption, accompanied by longstanding deprivation and the marginalisation of local ethnic communities in the north, resulted in a severe lack of opportunities. On the other hand, the policy of decentralising power has given local leaders the ability to control highly profitable activities, including illicit trafficking. Hence, the weak and corruptive nature of local institutions paved the way for their infiltration by organised trafficking networks seeking to secure their profits and the continuation of their activities. This process led to the integration of smuggling activity within political and military structures in the northern regions, creating a hub for an extensive network of smuggling routes.
Third, several domestic and regional developments contributed to political instability and the subsequent rise of criminality in Mali. The country has periodically been shaken by cycles of violence by secessionist ethnic Tuareg rebels struggling to create an independent Azawad state in the north. The return of heavily armed and well-trained Tuareg fighters after the end of the Libyan civil war, who either joined the separatists or simply engaged in other illegal activities, further worsened the security crisis and created fertile ground for militant and criminal activities.
Moreover, this flow of experienced fighters into Mali has had a tremendous impact on jihadist activity in the country. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which in the early 2000s had partially shifted its operation from southern Algeria into Mali’s north due to Algeria’s aggressive counter-insurgency campaign, was forced to share the space with several newly formed Islamist groups. One of them is Ansar Dine, established by Iyad Ag Ghali, an experienced Tuareg fighter who broke from the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad in late 2011. Another prominent Islamist group is al-Mourabitoun, created as a result of a merger between notorious AQIM commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar and his defected Katiba Al-Mulathamin (Masked Brigade) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujwa), which split from al-Qaeda’s northern African branch in January 2012. Shared ideology and operational goals, stemming from a severe need in operational infrastructure, contributed to these groups’ ability to cooperate, thereby transforming northern Mali into a haven for militant activities.
Alongside Tuareg rebels, who have traditionally engaged in illicit trafficking, reports have been circulating regarding the involvement of the jihadist elements in the smuggling activity in the north. Drug, cigarette and human trafficking, along with kidnapping for ransom, have become the main sources of funding for their radical activities. Thus, prior to the French military intervention in 2013, traffickers were persistently forced to pay tribute to Islamist groups, which controlled vast northern regions for nearly a year, for protection and safe passage through the areas. However, their fast infiltration of local smuggling networks could hardly be surprising. During the Islamist occupation in 2012 many of local armed militias joined either jihadist groups or Tuareg rebels, thus providing them with the opportunity to rely on the existing smuggling infrastructure in the north.
In this context, it is noteworthy that an ethnic element plays a crucial role in smuggling frameworks in Sahel in general and in northern Mali in particular due to its complex social dynamic. The traditionally merchant Berabiche ethnic group of Malian Arabs (10% of the northern population) is believed to have strong cultural, linguistic and social ties with mainly Arab AQIM, including providing the latter with support in its drug-related affairs. Given AQIM’s longstanding ill treatment of non-Arab fighters in its ranks, which actually triggered the Mujwa split and significantly limited the group’s ability to establish footholds in sub-Saharan Africa, this support had a positive impact on the group’s expansion into northern Mali. Moreover, the Islamists established ties with non-Arab Malian Tuaregs, who account for roughly 50% of the northern population and whose ethnic roots in Tuareg communities in Niger, Mauritania, Libya and Algeria allowed them to develop thriving trafficking economies in northern Mali. However, these relations, which were primarily based on mutual economic gains, suffered after a coalition of Islamist groups turned on their Tuareg allies, ousting them from the strongholds in the north in 2012.
In addition, this ethnic diversity is exacerbated by inequality, which characterises Arab and Tuareg communities, as some dominant clans and tribes traditionally treat others as 'vassals' or 'subservient', fuelling tensions both within and across groups. As these armed groups are struggling to maintain the influx of cash from trafficking activities, clashes between various armed groups are a common occurrence. This is further evidenced by reports of Tuareg attacks on Islamist militants and Arab smuggling convoys in Tuareg-controlled territories, frequently accompanied by the seizure of their shipments, as demonstrated by several recorded attacks near Ber and in Khalil, two key trafficking hubs.
Belmokhtar, who was born in southern Algeria and later formed Katiba in Mali’s north, was well aware of these ethnic sensitivities and their significant impact on the smuggling business. His marriage alliances with several northern tribes provided him with exclusive access to lucrative trafficking flows, and his group, recently referred to as al-Qaeda in West Africa, with an outstanding source of weapons and funding. Moreover, al-Mourabitoun’s ethnic diversity has also contributed to its capacity to infiltrate northern criminal networks. As ethnic factors remain central, Belmokhtar’s group, which is mainly comprised of Malian and Mauritanian Arabs, Tuaregs, ethnic Songrai self-defence militias, Fulani herdsmen, and sympathisers from other Sahelian countries, has a comparative advantage over the mainly Tuareg Ansar Dine when it comes to creating alliances or arrangements with local multiethnic networks. This, in turn, contributed to Belmokhtar’s quick rise to become the most prominent figure in local smuggling economies, gaining him the nickname 'Mister Marlboro' due to his active engagement in cigarette trafficking.
When it comes to valuable smuggling products, such as drugs, it is important to understand that there is no local market in Mali. The country serves as a transit point for transporting drugs from western coastal hubs, such as Guinea, Nigeria, Togo and Benin, through the vast desert expanse of the northern regions into Algeria or Libya. Some drugs routes cross Mali’s southern Kayes region into Mauritania before they find their way back into northern Mali. In some cases drugs are delivered directly to Mali by air and dropped in different locations, then transported overland through the northern regions. Analysts point to two main routes in northern Mali. The 'short trajectory' flows usually pass through Timbuktu and the Kidal regions through Algeria into Europe, while the 'long trajectory' routes usually strengthen from northern Mali into neighbouring Niger and, with the fall of the Gaddafi regime, into southern Libya, until the cargo reaches the coastal ports.
While in the past major trafficking routes have been concentrated primarily in Mali’s northern regions, with Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu and their surrounding areas serving as key trafficking nodes, the smuggling dynamic has recently undergone several changes. The French intervention in 2013 shifted the balance of power in the north, thus bringing new geopolitical realities to the fore. The French-led offensive defeated the so-called 'Islamic coalition', which captured northern regions and established unprecedented control over smuggling routes after ousting their former Tuareg rebel allies from their major strongholds. The defeat and subsequent French-led re-establishing of Tuareg control in the north, coupled with an increased security presence, has significantly weakened the short-term yet significant Islamist grip on the lucrative trafficking flows.
In that regard, a recent increase in militant activities in central and southern Mali is likely to have a significant impact on the smuggling routes in Mali. The Ansar Dine-affiliated group the Macina Liberation Front, formed by a radical Islamist preacher Ahmad Kufa earlier this year, has established a presence in Mali’s central and southern regions beyond the militants’ traditional theatre of operation. While its core leadership is based in Mali and maintains close ties with Ag Ghali, several Macina cells were dismantled within Côte d'Ivoire territory in August. Moreover, the group is believed to be behind the assassination of a Muslim cleric in Barkerou village, in the Segou region near the border with Mauritania, and has recently claimed responsibility for multiple attacks in the central Mopti region. The attack on Fakola village in Mopti on 28 June prompted intense security operations in the Sikasso region, adjacent to the border with Burkina Faso, to uproot militants from the established strongholds. Shortly afterwards, on 3 August, the US Embassy in Bamako warned of increased security threats to Westerners operating in Mali’s south. Despite these measures, the group continues to maintain a presence along the border with Burkina Faso, as demonstrated by several recent attacks on remote villages, including the attack on Dounapen village on 9 October. While Ansar Dine suffered a significant blow to his sources of revenue in the north following the French intervention, new attempts to establish smuggling activities through the group's close ally in these areas remain plausible.
In addition, there are indications that Belmokhtar’s group has become increasingly active in the central Mopti region, with demonstrated capabilities to attack the capital. The group claimed responsibility for the attack on a restaurant popular with foreigners in Bamako on 6 March, which left five people dead, and for the storming of the Sevare hotel, also in Mopti region, during which more than 10 people were killed, including Western citizens. Moreover, the kidnapping of a Romanian national on 4 April in Burkina Faso indicates that the group might have established footholds in, or at least close ties with, local criminal networks beyond Mali’s southern borders. In this context, the newly launched counter-insurgency Operation Seno, which is aimed at uprooting militants from Mali’s central regions, including areas along the border with Burkina Faso, provides further evidence of the increasing threat.
This is likely the result of Islamists’ severe need for new operational bases following multiple territorial losses and an increased security presence in the north. In turn, the relative freedom of movement in the southern and central border areas, both due to borders’ porosity and the scarce security presence in favour of the ongoing military efforts to secure the north, is further contributing to the Islamist spillover to the central and southern regions.
Another factor, which is likely to facilitate the precarious shift of smuggling activities into these regions is the trafficking routes’ general resilience and adaptability to a rapidly changing environment, such as frequent security operations or areas no longer being available for operations due to their recapture by rival groups. As the north has become more problematic for illegal trafficking due to the increased presence of UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (Minusma) forces and the restored Tuareg influence over lucrative smuggling routes in the north, the defeated Islamists are forced to seek new informal agreements or illicit channels in regions previously unexploited by them. While the Tuareg smugglers could potentially continue to provide Islamists with support in trafficking in the north, the underlying animosity following the Tuareg defeat may significantly reduce the scope of such support.
Thus, growing competition for control of the main source of funding due to the sharp increase in the number of well-trained and armed actors will likely continue to fuel tensions, increasing the potential for re-dividing Mali into new spheres of influence, with the main focus on the poorly secured central and southern border regions. In light of the weakness and corruption of the local security apparatus and Minusma’s repeated lack of interest in counter-trafficking, reflected in the minor impact of the French intervention to curb smuggling activities in Mali, these ongoing changes are unlikely to face significant counteraction in the near term. The recent Islamist expansion to the south may signal that the groups are currently working towards creating new 'zones of control' to replace those lost in northern regions, while introducing new smuggling networks into the Malian and regional reality.
Veryan Khan, editorial director of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), said Facebook is just one of many social media outlets being utilized by terrorists to spread their message of hate.
Others allegedly include YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, Instagram, Pinterest, Ask.FM, Tumblr, SendVid, Dump.to, JustPaste.it, Nasher.me, Scribid and a new web site, Telegram.
Terrorists have used these networks to release 19 different videos since Friday calling for attack on Jews in Israel, she said.
Khan believes Facebook is doing its best to monitor dangerous activity, but the challenge is that like playing the game “whack-a-mole,” as soon as one account is taken down, another opens.
19 October 2015 | RT - Radio Sputnik | Radio News
Cameroon: 'US presence in the region will further radicalize people' - Jasmine Opperman
Jasmine Opperman, South Africa-based analyst at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. Johannesburg
US troops were deployed in Cameroon to help fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group, President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday.
300 servicemen would be sent to the Central African country to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
Alarming as Tuesday’s attack in Cape Town may be, terrorism analyst Jasmine Opperman, Africa Director for the US-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, doesn’t see a direct link to ISIS or other transnational terror groups. As part of her research, Opperman monitors thousands of terror group-affiliated social media accounts. “If there had been a direct link, the twitter accounts would have gone crazy. I saw nothing,” she says. That doesn’t mean that South Africa is safe, she warns. On the contrary. The peculiarities of the case — the Islamic attire, the erratic behavior — point to what she calls an “aggravated lone shooter,” someone who is not necessarily groomed for a terror attack, but who takes on a terror mission in order to serve a self-defined cause. “This attire shows me indirect exposure to what is happening in the Middle East, where Islamic attire has meaning, but is also being used to conceal an identity in order to get away.” Those are the kind of attackers that are the most difficult to track.
ISIS may not have an organized presence in South Africa, says Opperman, but that doesn’t mean the country can breathe easy. The threat doesn’t come from the number of avowed members, she says, “but in increased exposure to their messaging and recruitment on social platforms. Our government is not in a position to track and monitor and analyze this.” And there are equally terrifying groups much closer to home. Somalia’s al-Shabaab terror group has 'Terrorist' monk surrenders in Lanka court
The Sri Lankan police on Monday issued an arrest warrant against a radical Buddhist monk who was responsible for inciting mobs to kill, pillage, loot and burn an entire Muslim town in Aluthgama, some 40 miles from capital Colombo, last year.
Galgoda Aththa Gnanasara, whose organisation the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or the Buddhist Power Force, which was behind hundreds of racial violence-related incidents in the past four years, surrendered to the court on Monday. The warrant was issued when he failed to appear in the court.
Last year, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a United States-based group listed the BBS as a "terrorist organisation".
“The guy is boosting the morale of the fighters. In fact, he admitted they lost ground, [that] they have lost some of their fighters in operations. He is building the morale of the fighters by telling them be patient, victory is near, we will overcome all these problems sooner than later,” said Abdisamad.
Head of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, Jasmine Opperman, disagreed.
“What we are seeing is al-Shabab in a stronger position as previously. If one looks at the video and the person talking, we see a person relaxed. We see fighters in a good spirit. We see a message of patience being conveyed. As if al-Shabab is in full control, knows what is doing and is under no threat,” she said.
Jasmine Opperman, [former] director of African Operations at Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium said that; even though ISIS has developed a highly sophisticated tax-based income system, they are still reliant on independent financing.
By hiding among thousands of asylum-seekers, the Islamist militants can expand their operational presence in Europe, the consortium of analysts warned in a briefing released Thursday.
And if any of their infiltrated members are caught, the backlash could help radicalize disaffected European Muslims.
“This presents mounting challenges for the EU where it is compelled to find the thin line between allowing the entry of refugees whilst weeding out terror operatives or a blanket order of shutting its doors to refugees,” the TRAC briefing read in part.
Despite fears that IS is exploiting the refugee crisis to infiltrate Europe by disguising members as asylum-seekers, only six cases have so far been reported. Analysts, however, say the apparently meager numbers shouldn’t be a cause for relief or a source of complacency — a point echoed by European intelligence officials who VOA spoke to on condition of anonymity.
The most alarming case of infiltration came in May when Italian police announced they had arrested Abdel Majid Touil, a Moroccan national, whom they accuse of helping to plan the March 18 terror attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis, which left 22 people — mainly tourists — dead.
According to Bruno Megale, head of Italy's anti-terror police, the Moroccan smuggled himself into Italy aboard a vessel with 90 other migrants in February just before the attack and was arrested in the Italian village of Gaggiano, southwest of Milan, where his mother and two older brothers live.
His arrest caused consternation in Rome and prompted an outcry from anti-immigration politicians. The head of the Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, called for the suspension of the Schengen agreement allowing passport-free travel within EU countries and the closing of Italy’s borders. “Libyan intelligence says boats are arriving with Islamic State terrorists," Salvini announced.
Most of the half-dozen reported incidents of suspected jihadists entering Europe alongside migrants have occurred month. Five men in their twenties suspected of links to IS attempted to cross the Macedonia-Bulgaria border on September 3, but were promptly arrested following a failed attempt to bribe a border security officer.
On September 9, the Hungarian media reported that 30-year-old Laith Al Saleh, an alleged IS member, had already passed through the country as a refugee and reached Germany. Also on September 9, a suspected IS operative, a Moroccan national with a German passport, was detained by Bulgarian authorities and extradited to Germany. The 21-year-old suspect was detained trying to cross from Turkey into Bulgaria using a forged Syrian passport.
Also this month, German authorities arrested another suspected IS member, a Moroccan in possession of forged Syrian passports, in a refugee center in Stuttgart. Attempting to infiltrate the contitent as an asylum, he was identified after German police linked him to a European arrest warrant issued by Spanish authorities.
"The UAE is mentioned frequently by Daesh-affiliated Twitter accounts we monitor. The number of Indian expats in the UAE and the Gulf more broadly is a significant population that is in the sight-line of Daesh recruiters,'' said Veryan Khan, a senior expert with the US-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, who listens to Net conversations and monitors social media terror recruitment.
It is, therefore, important to extend online counter terror efforts to India even though Daesh may not pose a high risk there as compared to the Middle East. The group may have grand plans for the Sub-Continent, but the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium said it was riddled with holes.
That's because Indian scholars and religious bodies have been vocal in their unanimous denouncing of the group. Indian government estimates 10-17 Indian youths have attempted to or have joined Daesh so far. Unofficial figures put the numbers higher, at over 300.
"To decode the vulnerability of Indians to Daesh ideology at home and abroad, we need to examine cultural factors in India and the Gulf region as well as political narratives."
States like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have a dominant political presence of extremist or anti-India political narratives.
Intelligence sharing between India and its Gulf allies in this regard is of absolute importance as many people from these states work in the UAE and other GCC countries.
Nations should know what their citizens are doing abroad in the age of web warfare. This could prevent an actual terror event. "At home, this requires the enterprise of local law enforcement as well as inter-agency cooperation at federal and international levels," said the expert.
In May, Jasmine Opperman, a Cape Town-based analyst [formerly] with TRAC, a terrorism research and consultant consortium, told Al Jazeera that some were looking to assist with humanitarian emergencies, while others wanted to assist ISIL in bolstering its administration and emergency services.
South Africa is as vulnerable as any other part of the world when it comes to the recruitment for terrorist groups. This is according to Jasmine Opperman, Director of Trac Africa (Terrorism Research and Analysis). Opperman says online platforms and social networks make the country increasingly vulnerable to threats of terrorism.
There have been reports of terror cells in the past. We are tracking Twitter accounts and two or three of them have expressed blatant support to terrorists organisations.
— Jasmine Opperman, Director of Trac Africa
Listen to the full conversation from CapeTalk's Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:
Islamic State-affiliated accounts have been co-opting trending Twitter hashtags since at least the Ferguson protests of 2014, said Veryan Khan, editorial director of Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a private firm that collects information on terrorism.
The senders piggyback on popular topics because it helps get their message out to people who otherwise would never see it or want to see it.
"Their theory is that no publicity is bad publicity," said Khan. "They even used #nationalburgerday," she said.
The Twitter accounts are in all different languages and come from all over the world, Khan said.
On the fourteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror plot, which claimed the lives of 2,977 victims, Twitter accounts claiming to be affiliated with ISIS started the #AmericaUnderHacks hashtag, according to reports from the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
26 August 2015 | RT Radio | Radio News
IS Remains Focused on Syria and Iraq - But threat is Growing
Radio Sputnick Jasmine Opperman - Director of African Operations at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium about Islamic State operations and cell strategy in southern Europe.
Africa director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Jasmine Opperman warns that while significant, this decision does not equate to the necessary tactical shift. “Hot pursuits will have the same limited impact what we have seen in the past, where Boko Haram cannon fodder will be attacked and a perception created that areas are cleared. It will have a limited impact on Boko Haram’s cell presence and its ability to execute attacks such as suicide bombings.”
30 July 2015 | Fox National News | News
Cheating evil: Chechen women con ISIS by posing as wannabe terror brides
"By doing this, the women could have a target on their back because they live in a high recruitment area where the Islamic State has recently established [territory]" said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium.
Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, said her organization has tracked accounts on FaceBook, MySpace, Instagram, Pinterest, You Tube, Ask.FM, Tumblr, SendVid, Dump.to, Just Paste.it, Nasher.me, Manbar.me, WordPress and Scribid. The use of foreign web sites, particularly in Russia, also is on the rise.
Terror groups like Islamic State have become so organized, they have their own media production houses, Khan said. In addition to filming, editing and posting videos of prisoner and traitor executions, they also film outreach and recruitment efforts and speeches by their leaders that glorify their acts.
July. 17. 2015 | UK - International Business Times | News
Following the recent attacks in Tunisia, Morocco's vulnerability to terrorism is gaining renewed attention. In some ways we can look to Tunisia's jihadist cell activity as the older brother to the parallel Moroccan problem. Organized jihadist group presence in Tunisia and Morocco shows concerning similarities.
The overwhelming majority of North African fighters in Syria and Iraq are mainly from Tunisia and Morocco and these fighters have shown a willingness to be used in front lines, not only as suicide bombers but also taking the lead in local brigades.
“Certainly a successful attack on Moroccan soil would be the aim for any group in the region. However, even an unsuccessful attack would be their first step in achieving their strategic goals.”
- TRAC Terrorism
Both the governments of Tunisia and Morocco have referred to a concerning number of trained fighters returning to Morocco and both countries have a history of an organised jihadi presence and are dismantling cell structures at an alarming rate.
Finally, both countries have urban areas with high unemployment especially among the youth, who are most at risk of radical behaviour, resulting in criticism against the governments and seeking ways of securing income.
All that said, Morocco and Tunisia are not identical twins when it comes to countering jihadist activity. The Moroccan government has taken a much more strict, often uncompromising, counterterrorism strategy, while Tunisia has been accused of a more lenient approach.
For example, Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST) was allowed the freedom to expand after the Arab Spring in that country. The Moroccan monarchy took a proactive approach by moderating the Malikiti ideology by deploying imams to more than 50,000 mosques to counter extremist propaganda.
Even with their proactive approach, Morocco's vulnerability to acts of terrorism remains. Not only is Islamic State's campaign of expanding its presence in North Africa active but al Qaeda aligned groups and organised cells also remain a constant threat. The threat is accentuated by a call from IS (Isis) to sleeper cells to take action in areas of where they are present rather than moving to Syria or Libya (Reported by Akhbar Al Yaoum on 20 March 2015).
Other important indicators are foreign fighters returning to Libya, closer and more immediate cooperation between terror networks, and the fact that the main jihadist groups openly call on networks to engage in attacks and IS's carving out areas of control beyond Syria and Iraq.
Equally, several factors create a conducive environment not only for recruitment, but the formation of cell networks.
Firstly, the presence of Wahhabi ideology that is opposed to a more "moderate" Sufi Islam practised in most North Africa states. A moderating factor is the presence of the monarchy which is central to a predominant moderate Malikite worship tradition.
Secondly, socio-economic factors, with most of the Moroccan fighters coming from the northern areas, known for high levels of unemployment. IS offers employment opportunities. Rumours of compensation for Moroccan fighters have been as high as $2,000 (£1,280, €1,840) to $3,000 (£1,919, €2,765) per month, with added monthly premiums, that include $200 when the fighter is married and $50 per child when he is a father.
Thirdly, Morocco's close proximity to southern Europe eases collaboration between existing networks, including recruitment cells. In 2014, IS launched a campaign on social networks stating its objective to control Al-Andalus (the Arabic name for parts of Spain, Portugal and France that were occupied by Muslim conquerors from 711 to 1492).
Due to its geographical proximity, Morocco is the ideal conduit in expanding its presence in these areas. The exploitation of this proximity has been demonstrated in the high level of cell activity. On 14 August 2014, a nine-member cell active in Morocco and not far from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta was dismantled.
According to Moroccan authorities, the members had interaction with similar networks in Ceuta where they received training in weapons handling, use of explosive devices and car theft. These cells are indicative of IS targeting Morocco, with cell networks the preference of choice.
Though IS typically thrives in areas where the government is weak, which is not the case in Morocco, the jihadist environment will rely on IS to execute specific attacks. Even if the attacks are largely unsuccessful, the IS will spread a message of a Moroccan government not able to counter its expansion.
Fourthly, recruitment cells are targeting specific individuals for radicalisation and assisting in travelling arrangements. According to the Moroccan government, roughly 124 terror cells have been dismantled since 2002. The dismantling of cells in January 2015 (active in Meknes, El Hajeb and Al Hoceima) and in March 2015 (following counterterrorism operations in Agadir in south-west Morocco, Marrakesh, Boujad, Tangiers, Ain Harrouda and in the Western Sahara) are only two examples that indicate the continued presence of organized structures.
Photos of ISIS special forces are circulated widely on social media. While the Caliphate Army fighters are never specified, there have been instances where new recruits were seen training and described as “special forces,” according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
“ISIS capacity and skilled fighting force is expanding irrespective counter offensives and will be ready to defend the Caliphate,” said Veryan Khan, the editorial director and founder of TRAC. “ISIS is sending a message to possible recruits that its fighting force is ‘professional, well equipped and something to take pride in.’”
July. 02. 2015 | UK - International Business Times | News
Spreading over three continents, each separate attack represented the extended range of the group's influence both in terms of size and scale. The timing links the events and suggests that IS might be able to support multi-continent operations.
“All the references on Twitter and Facebook, as well as ISIS claiming credit for the Kuwait and Tunisia attacks, fuel the flames of Islamic imperialism.”
- TRAC Terrorism
How much Islamic State (Isis) directed each attack is debatable, but the fact that each occurred within the same time frame gives the illusion that the group is everywhere all at once. To be clear, the projection of IS's global presence is just that: an image of its influence and capabilities. This projection does not mean necessarily that IS had a direct organizational role in these disparate attacks, but it does create the illusion that IS has greatly expanded its influence beyond Syria and Iraq.
This illusion is critical to IS's grand strategy for many reasons but the most important is to divert attention from either losses or planned offensives. The effect of diversionary tactics is to redirect international attention away from IS defeats: the Tunisia attack draws attention away from Libya; Kobane and Hasakah from Raqqa; and Kuwait from Baghdad/Mosul.
Spreading opposing forces and creating doubt on where the next attacks might occur not only buys IS time but gives it a surprise element that distracts and projects it as present in all areas, whether or not it was involved in planning or executing the campaigns.
A map of the world as seen by Islamic State(TRAC Terrorism)
This illusion gains credence in lone wolf attacks, where the mere presence of an IS flag, or any similar brutality, is regarded as reflecting the IS brand, and it transforms the social media IS fan club into a cheerleading squad. All the references on Twitter and Facebook, as well as IS claiming credit for the Kuwait and Tunisia attacks, fuel the flames of Islamic imperialism.
The illusion is also enhanced by IS announcing wilayahs (provinces) beyond Syria and Iraq where it exerts influence. Other than in Libya , the Islamic State does not have an organizational presence that can be deemed sufficient enough to claim that the Caliphate is successfully ensconced across the Middle East and North Africa.
Often, IS presence is nothing more than a sleeper cell, a few individuals, or a lone wolf. Even in Libya, with an estimated presence of between 4,000 and 5,000 fighters, IS's three wilayahs remain a pipe dream. Its claim to represent all Sunnis worldwide and calls for hijrah (migration) to the Caliphate ironically carries a grave contradiction: in Syria and Iraq it is the people that it claims to represent who are fleeing IS presence and control.
“For those countering IS's message, the current path is not working, especially in finding ways to combat the flow of foreign fighters into combat zones and to disrupt IS's social media networks.”
- TRAC Terrorism
Islamic State's reach therefore must not be equated with an expanding strength that enables it to execute attacks at free will. Looking at the individual perpetrators who executed recent attacks, IS is relying on several aspects that further projects a false perception of immediate threats:
The individual must be able and willing to execute an attack on his own initiative;
The individual must be able and willing to organize, plan and procure the weapons that are needed to execute the attack;
The individual must view his attack as an act of martyrdom; and
The individual must demonstrate some form of allegiance to IS, such as displaying a flag at the scene of attack, or as in the case of the attack in France, behead an infidel.
Every incident in which the media gives IS credit for an attack, especially if it cannot prove its involvement, ensures that the group's propaganda machine keeps spinning its image in sophisticated, colourful and attractive social media marketing messages enabled by the foreign press.
International media reports of the "Bloody Friday" attacks confirm:
An awareness and acknowledgement of IS's threat across the globe;
A willingness of sleeper cells and lone wolves to execute attacks even if there is no support or instructions from IS
Openly stating IS support in attacks is a key in gaining media attention (a key component to espousing a cause); and
Copycatting IS brutality as the key to declaring commitment and gaining Jannah (heaven).
The concern is that IS's voice beyond Syria and Iraq has become a powder keg. In states like Spain and Morocco cells have moved beyond merely recruiting jihadists to acquiring operational capabilities to support independent attacks.
For those countering IS's message, the current path is not working, especially in finding ways to combat the flow of foreign fighters into combat zones and to disrupt IS's social media networks. (IS's supporters bombard social media with as many as 90,000 Tweets a day.) For now, IS is one step ahead of counterterrorism efforts, and that is why the Bloody Friday attacks seem to reinforce IS illusionary strength rather than reveal its sleight-of-hand tactics.
July. 02. 2015 | UK - International Business Times | News
The death toll from the attack on six military checkpoints in the town of Sheikh Zuweid is unclear, with between 17 and 30 Egyptian soldiers and around 70 others dead. IS claims that as many as 500 fighters were involved in the attack, a number disputed by the Egyptian army.
Following the attack, IS claimed that it attacked 15 different security and military positions using heavy and light weaponry and RPGs, both shoulder-fired and mortar. IS not only said that it carried out three separate suicide missions but was also able to take control of several locations.
Many IS Twitter fanboys were claiming that the group had shot down an Apache helicopter and the Egyptian military called for an evacuation from the border with the Gaza Strip of 5km, while Israel closed the border crossings entirely along the Sinai.
The attack reveals the extent of IS's cell structures within Sinai and their capabilities.
Based on its remote location, harsh topography and the federal government's blind eye to investing any resources into the region, both local and foreign radicalism has been allowed to fester.
But for an IS wilayah (or branch) to work, control is needed in the badlands of the Sinai. The question now in terms of terrorist expansion is whether IS cell structures control the Bedouin population as well as the Egyptian army. It has been the very heavy-handed response from Egypt that has helped swing what is left of the local Bedouin population towards IS.
IS attacks in the Sinai are not surprising and confirm the group's modus operandi:
IS thrives where there is a lack of governance. Irrespective of Egyptian government statements that military successes have been achieved in the Sinai Peninsula, IS remains present with a sustained ability to acquire sophisticated weapons such as MANPADS;
The attacks come as no surprise as Egypt has been marred by increased violence since January 2015;
The attacks reinforced the Egyptian government's struggle in gaining effective counter-successes against militant groups;
Where IS has a presence, the ability of cell structures to execute attacks must not be equated with the extent of control or lack thereof. IS needs to voice its presence in areas where numbers are relatively small, needs to propagate its expansion by attacks, and needs to show its commitment to a growing caliphate. For this, the Egyptian attacks have given them a moral victory in the peninsula and beyond;
The Egyptian government most likely will respond with extreme force, giving way to a renewed cycle of violence, and adding to IS's propaganda of "righteous jihad";
The Bedouin people will again bare the brunt of a cycle of violence and harsher security measures.
Though the Sinai attack was a military-style attack and much different from gunning down sunbathers on a beach, once again IS has has made an attack into an international media event.
Combining yesterday's attack with the recent attacks in Libya, Tunisia and France, IS has extended the impression that the organisation has the capability of striking when and where it wants with impunity.
What is more concerning is that the choice of targets, the method of attacks and the attack locations suggest that the Sinai attacks more closely resemble successful IS tactics in Iraq. If as indicated above IS is vying to hold more territory in Egypt, then we should expect more attacks like this in the near future.
“The practicing of anything that is not approved by Islamic State under their very strict interpretation of Islam is ‘Haram’ or forbidden,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Florida-based Terrorism, Research & Analysis Consortium. “If the Islamic State thinks that sorcery is real, then black magic would be a threat to them and seen as a danger.”
“Islamic State executions are not merely retribution by the state for behavior seen as illegal,” said Khan, noting executions by the Islamic State include everything from burning alive victims, firing squads, beatings and beheadings, to drowning, explosions, and throwing people off of buildings. “The Islamic State uses executions to intimidate and dominate the local population, for diplomatic communiqués to world leaders, for recruitment purposes and to demonstrate the organization is in complete control.”
On the topic of countering violent extremism, the report said the government and Muslim community organisations actively promoted tolerance and provided a counter-narrative.
For example, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore maintains a Facebook presence and holds outreach and education events to counter terrorist propaganda and recruitment efforts.
Ms Veryan Khan, editorial director of Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, agrees with this approach, saying that the best way to combat foreign fighters "is at home, as close to the beginning of the radicalisation process as possible", with a strong reliance on friends and family.
“IS does not only have one back door for supplies and foreign fighters on the border with Turkey,” notes Jasmine Opperman, a [former] senior analyst for Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, a digital collection of experts focused on political violence, adding that it likely already shifted to other areas. “Crippling ISIS by cutting supply lines is important, but is going to take much more than the victory at Tel Abyad.”
Increased IS-affiliated messages and references on Twitter, Ms. Opperman adds, show the group is aware of the increased risk of its recruits being apprehended but also shows the network is able to adjust and communicate hints on how to minimize the risk of exposure. While it is still possible for IS fighters to go to Syria using alternative routes, many of those require crossing territory held by Kurds and other factions.
Veryan Khan, editorial director for U.S.-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, said ISIS has a template for spy executions: There must be the “confession” and the hostage must remain calm before the execution to demonstrate both Islamic State generosity in their treatment of prisoners as well as the victim’s knowledge they deserve this punishment. As with other videos, hostages are well rehearsed - likely through mock executions - and did not appear to know that this time they would be killed, Khan said.
Explosives were strung around the necks of this group of ISIS victims. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)
Because ISIS has already been so brutal in its executions, its leaders need to find new symbolic ways of assassinating to get international attention, Khan said.
“Islamic State’s propaganda machine is so prolific that it has to keep coming up with new ways to shock the world and impress their fan club. This means that they have to up the ante in order to gain more attention for each new release,” Khan said.
“What is shocking is the style of each execution - it is no longer enough to behead, or to behead 21 men simultaneously, to burn them alive, or shoot them in mass firing squads. They must offer a triptych of executions, each more savage than the last,” Khan said.
One captive was allowed to live, although it was not clear why. (Screengrab courtesy of TRAC)
At the end of the video, there is one lone prisoner left standing in the desert with the decapitated men lying behind him, but no mention of who he is, or why he was spared in this round of slayings. Khan called the imagery “haunting and ominous.”
“This was a message to both potential and current spies; a message to their fan club that the Islamic State is still very much in charge and handling business as usual; a message to the rest of the world that they are not to be trifled with,” Khan said.
“They have backed the monarchy into a corner,” says Veryan Khan, the editorial director at Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC). “The Islamic State is attempting to effect change in the region at large and intensify the Sunni/Shia divide. Riyadh is in a tenuous position. It’s forced to defend its Shia minority within the Kingdom to placate them... but their distinct version of Saudi Wahhabism is not that far removed from the Islamic State’s unrelenting stance on Shiites.”
“That Libya's importance to ISIS is increasing is seen in its recent expansion into Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco,” says Jasmine Opperman, the director of Southern African operations at TRAC. “Libya is providing a door to Europe... Libya is becoming an alternative traveling route for foreign fighters to Syria and by moving southwards, it is closing the gap towards the Islamic State in West Africa (Boko Haram).”
ISIS is now aiming at Misrata, Libya's third largest city. The terror group is benefiting from the ongoing civil war and making progress toward establishing a third base in central Libya to go with its command centers in Iraq and Syria. “ISIS’s surge results from its continued exploitation of opposing force weaknesses. In the recent attack on a checkpoint in the direction of Misrata, the checkpoint was guarded by Misrata fighters who were not being paid frequently and who were not well armed,” says Opperman, adding that ISIS fighters in Libya now number between 4,000 and 5,000. ISIS is fighting now another extreme group in the city of Derna in an unresolved battle over power.
“The CIA’s success has left AQAP both guessing and pointing fingers at how the organization’s very careful leadership has been caught so off guard,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. “In order to complete its expansion dreams, the Islamic State either needs to win over core AQAP support or kill off its opposition letting the rest fold into its ranks. The Islamic State has the most to gain, offing of important AQAP leadership.”
The AQAP leaders killed by CIA drone strikes, among the most dangerous terrorists in the world, have been killed off at an “alarming rate” for their fellow jihadists, Khan said. The rising body count has given rise to paranoia, say analysts. In late April AQAP-affiliated Twitter accounts openly discussed fears there are Islamic “spies” within AQAP, and hinted a group of AQAP members defected to the Islamic State and were providing intelligence to U.S. drone operations, Khan said.
“Many believed that Wuhayshi’s pedigree and trusted status made him the favorite to take over after Zawahiri’s demise,” Khan said.
Wuhayshi’s death followed the CIA’s assassination of another pedigreed, senior AQAP leader, Ibrahim Al-Rubeish, who was killed in April, spawning an outpouring of social media condolences for the man who fought in both Afghanistan and was held at Gitmo, Khan said.
Fueling the deadly rivalry, ISIS members cheered the death of Nasir al-Wuhayshi, said Jasmine Opperman, a Cape Town, South Africa-based analyst with TRAC.
“If ISIS had had information on the precise whereabouts of AQAP leaders, would it also have made sense that Islamic State would have used that to initiate their own attacks and thereby not only claim expansion into Yemen, but also being responsible for killing AQAP leaders?” Opperman said.
However, the fact that U.S. drone attacks could take out four AQAP leaders in Yemen in such a short time does indicate good intelligence, Opperman said. Meanwhile, the U.S. has had much less success targeting ISIS leadership, Khan said.
Whether there is justification for AQAP to believe the four men, three unnamed, executed this week by the most torturous of means were really spies for ISIS, Saudi Arabia or the CIA, may never be fully publicly vetted. But if drone strikes continue to eliminate AQAP’s leadership, the organization could continue its bloody purge, Khan said.
“The language is broadcast radio. It sounds like we are listening to the BBC,” Jasmine Opperman, a senior analyst for the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), told Al Arabiya News.
“They are diversifying their central message of success on the battlefield,” said Opperman.
“ISIS would not launch a propaganda campaign like this if it did not have a target audience in mind,” said Opperman.
ISIS’s use of media is an attempt to “promote its soft power,” William Youmans, a professor of media and public affairs at the George Washington University, told Al Arabiya News.
“As ISIS seeks to become an established state, it knows it must seek legitimacy, and that it cannot just rule on violence, even if that is how it gains territory and represses people living under its rule,” Opperman said.
However, Opperman argued the newscasts “are nothing new to ISIS’ propaganda.”
The 24-hour updates on “the successes and gains” are an attempt by ISIS “to explain to the people in the caliphate to rest assured that ‘we are in control, we are making gains, we are not being defeated by any opposing force’,” said the analyst.
“The language is and has definitely changed but it is not an opposition at all to the existing propaganda campaign,” she added.
“It is supplementary to the propaganda campaign.”
“ISIS is focused on the perfect caliphate. A caliphate where we have a perfect life with children playing in the parks, we do have schools, we do have women walking with their husbands and the child so happy’,” she said. “But ISIS has never fell back on showing its successes and brutality. Why not? Simply because, we need to keep in mind their ultimate goal, they are fighting a righteous cause,” said Opperman, adding that the groups built a logic behind the executions and human rights abuses they are doing.
“’We are doing these things to ensure that the Islamic Caliphate will be achieved and that the values we are putting on the table will be protected from sinners and believers’,” she said, explaining the group’s ideology.
“There is no contradiction. ISIS never hides behind or try to diminish their role in executions, their role in the punishment of the infidels,” she continued.
June. 18. 2015 | UK The International Business Times (IBT) | News
A child executioner made a film star by Isis(TRAC)
Much has been written on the nature of Islamic State (Isis) propaganda: what it looks like and how the message is conveyed. But most of all, why it is so effective.
A number of reasons have been given for its success: its message, its underdog mentality, recent military victories or the fact that its mission is said to be in defence of jihad. But there is another aspect that is often overlooked: the role of conviction, which makes IS one of the strongest cults in the world.
No matter how much IS ideology appears illogical, ill-informed and misguided, the conviction among those travelling to join the group – or make hijra, as they would call it – is a powerful cohesive that binds its followers on a determined path.
Of course, such conviction is not unique to the Islamic State. Other jihadi groups such as al-Qaeda have also engendered a strong sense of purpose among adherents, but the difference between IS followers and others is that IS gives them the opportunity not just to believe, but to take part: be it as a fighter, a jihadi bride, an engineer, teacher, doctor or a police officer.
The idea is tangible; the good life is real and available to all who aspire to the ideals of the Islamic caliphate. In these terms, IS supporters have more concrete evidence (in their opinion) to support their unquestionable faith.
And no other jihadi group has seized and occupied so much territory in an attempt to prove that the caliphate is a viable ideal.
June 30, 2014: A militant Islamist fighter waving a flag cheers as he takes part in a military parade along a street in Syria's northern Raqqa province. The fighters held the parade to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic caliphate(Reuters)
A commitment to IS ideology reflects two distinct dimensions of conviction. First, IS provides an emotional bond to many who are disenfranchised in their down-trodden world, and second: by joining IS followers are comforted within a familial relationship.
Joining the caliphate offers the misconception of a protection from within. Those who have not yet travelled to join the fight but who believe in the caliphate are spiritually comforted, those who do travel to the caliphate are both spiritually and physically nourished. All one simply has to do is play by the house rules, and you will be accepted and taken care of.
The conviction it takes to carry out a suicide mission is: "I am contributing to the final battle", which is why the images of youngest UK suicide bomber last week show him smiling before his attack. A follower is bound by his willingness to shed blood, both his own and that of the infidels.
17 year old Talha Asmal is believed to have become Britain's youngest suicide bomber(Twitter/Anna Ahronheim)
Other aspects of IS propaganda include:
Foreign fighters who are about to execute suicide bombings pose for photos and send final greetings to friends.
Female jihadi wives frequently tweet photos of their ideal lives in the "perfect caliphate"
Children are depicted with IS logos and flags as well as arms with a message of how young people must be trained in the ideology
References to the Quran that explain and justify IS ideology
IS fighters viewing death as martyrdom, as the most noble of all events
Condemnation of anything else but what IS ideology permits, even if it means use of brutal violence and public executions even against Muslims.
In the Islamic State's assembling an international jihadi force in Syria and Iraq, some have various levels of commitment to its ideology. For a follower to make the commitment to leave for Iraq and Syria demonstrates his conviction to the caliphate.
Hundreds of British women are said to be desperate to go to Syria(Twitter)
Recently there are reports of foreign fighters wanting to return home or women having second thoughts about becoming caliphate wives upon arrival. Often followers have misgivings upon their arrival because their expectations set by the relentless dogmatic propaganda were too high.
The most common reason given from foreign fighters who have returned and abandon the fight is a shock and repulsion that they are expected to kill fellow Muslims. What begins as a "sexy jihad" conviction turns to "nightmare jihad" for some.
Misgivings of convictions are seen in those wanting to leave – even the enormous IS propaganda machine struggles to overcome the gap between a promised land and what it can offer to those accepting the conviction. Any counter IS strategy has to understand how to demonstrate the nightmare before any conviction begins.
June. 15. 2015 | UK The International Business Times (IBT) | News
"The shahada is the definitive Muslim doctrine. It is like the trinity for Christians. But it has been taken over by the Islamic State," said Veryan Khan, editorial director at TRAC Terrorism, which monitors IS propaganda."It so much reminds of the sieg heil [Nazi salute] when you see the little kids do it simultaneously," said Khan.
June. 09. 2015 | UK The International Business Times (IBT) | News
Boko Haram is shrouded in mystery. From its ability to successfully hide large numbers of hostages, to the magnetic appeal of its disturbing leader, to its metamorphosis into the Islamic State's official province in West Africa.
Speculation ranged from Shekau being dead (yes, for the third time by TRAC's count); to proof that Boko Haram is in complete disarray; to Shekau wounded, on the run and in hiding. Truth be told, no one really knows where he is or why he has not taken his usual "front and centre" place on stage.
There are, however, some plausible arguments to bring sanity to this speculation and, much more importantly, Boko Haram is clearly taking a page from the Islamic State's playbook: diversion.
Speculation about Boko Haram's leader has been circling for some time. In September 2014, photos were distributed showing a dead Shekau, killed by a bullet wound. The acclaimed success was quickly refuted by Shekau himself in appearances in Boko Haram videos.
If indeed Shekau had been killed during the recent offensives against the group, rest assured there would have been a media campaign by regional governments taking pride in the ultimate success against Boko Haram.
Successes against the group have been confined to Boko Haram fighters engaged in open combat; it is highly unlikely that Shekau would have been exposed to such confrontations. Even reported successes in exposing Boko Haram camps at Sambisa forest yielded little information about the presence of Boko Haram leaders.
A screenshot from the beginning of "Arrivals of the Soldiers of the Caliphate in West Africa – Wilāyat Gharb Ifiqiyyah" - the narrator says "But the armies claim , through the media, That they captured our towns and That they Killed and Assaulted Sambisa us. I swear by Allah That I am talking right now from Sambisa."TRAC
The Latest Video
The closest we get to answering the question of where Shekau is lies in last week's video release. Featuring testimonials, battles, executions, and even a downed Nigerian fighter jet, this video has it all in terms of fan-loving topics covered.
But this video stands out for more reasons than merely Shekau's absence or topics covered. First and foremost, this is Boko Haram's first release as the official Islamic State Wilayat (Province) the self-procalimed Wilayat West Africa, more than merely suggesting that they cover and control much more territory than Boko Haram currently occupies.
Secondly, the video was translated into both English and Arabic subtitles, indicating that their audience has expanded from just the Kanuri dialect. Lastly, in the final scene where Boko Haram shows off its latest conquest, the downing of a fighter jet, Boko Haram for the first time goes beyond solely threatening Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon. In this video, the list of nations threatened is international (United States, France, Isreal, Nigeria, Cameroon) not regional.
This caption is just one of a series of threats made in the latest video. The goods refer to the downed jet. The complete series of those threatened translates to: President of Nigeria Jonathan , here are your goods; Idriss Deby of Chad, here are your goods; Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, here are your goods; Paul Biya of Cameroon, here are your goods; Barrack Obama of America (sic), here are your goods; Francois Hollande of France, here are your goods; Benjamin Netanyahu of the Jewish state, here are your goods.TRAC
Sleight of Hand
Roughly halfway through the video, before the scenes of executions, we see a narrator talking about how Boko Haram is as, strong as ever, so much so that the group is still present in Sambisa Forest:
"Most of our territory is still under our control Including Dikwa, Gamborou, Damasak, and other places. Here, in Sambisa, you can travel more than four to five hours under the black flag of Islam by car or motorbike."
The narrator is not referring to the high number of Boko Haram fighters killed in open combat; these are losses that even Boko Haram cannot deny.
Dikwa, Gamborou, and Damasak are all areas that have seen clashes with regional forces, yet, notice what is absent from the narrator's tale. Neither Maiduguri nor Yola are mentioned at all by the narrator: these areas have recently witnessed a series of suicide bombings as well as the bulk of the heavy fighting.
The narrator emphasises that he is located in the Sambisa forest. This is not just boasting of their presence; this is bait to keep the audience's attention on Sambisa forest. The "sleight of hand" here is intentional: focus on Sambisa to divert attention away from Maiduguri, the real target. Boko Haram is using distraction in its propaganda as a tool to divert and spread regional forces' attention.
Sound familiar? Well it should, because this is a tried and true tactic of the Islamic State.
Isis recently, and with great success, captured Ramadi in Iraq. All the while IS propaganda was redirecting attention to attacks in Baghdad, Fallujah, and the Baiji oil Fields, rerouting attention away from their real target.
Boko Haram has been mimicking Isis battlefield tactics and use of social networks for quite some time, and now the group is adopting yet another IS strategy: introducing misdirected propaganda as a diversionary tactic.
Screen shot of Boko Haram's tactics in "Arrivals of the Soldiers of the Caliphate in West Africa – Wilāyat Gharb Ifiqiyyah".TRAC
Back to Shekau
How does all of the above relate to Shekau? Simple. He is Boko Haram's ultimate tool of deception.
Not knowing if Shekau is dead or alive means no one can claim the ultimate prize of a defeated Boko Haram. Irrespective of the relevance of Shekau and the future of Boko Haram, what he represents as well as any symbolism attached to his death will matter to those fighting the group.
Shekau is feared by thousands, millions of people; he is Lord Voldemort. His legend of being beyond psychopathic, a monster, a mad man, a leader with a passion to kill precedes his presence anywhere at any point in time.
Not knowing if Shekau is dead or alive is weakening and diverting support to those opposed to him. Additionally, Islamic State almost never shows their leaders, it helps swell the public's image of them, making them larger than life, super human. In this sense Boko Haram is taking another Isis propaganda technique.
The hunt continues, and if no one knows where to look, it will remain a scramble across Northeastern Nigeria, the border areas of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, stretching to Libya and maybe even Mosul. Limiting exposure of their leader in film and photos equates to giving Boko Haram's cell structures a breather, and a moment's attention diverted allows unexpected brutal attacks.
Is Shekau alive? It doesn't matter – his myth is the decoy that Boko Haram needs.
International security think-tank Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) described ABT as an “al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic extremist group in Bangladesh that started its activities during 2007 as the Jama’atul Muslimin”.
Now, an independent probe has confirmed extremist doctrine has indeed spread to the Caribbean.
Veryan Khan, an analyst with the US-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), who tracks and studies social media and other channels to understand the recruitment tactics of terrorist groups, self-starter cells and separatist movements, says there are confirmed and documented Daesh cases in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as in Guyana. Speaking to Khaleej Times, Veryan, who is also TRAC’s Editorial Director, says these cases are, however, sparse and do not amount to a groundswell of new activity for Daesh.
‘‘If you look at Daesh propaganda, (digitised computer generated maps at the beginning of their big budget films like Even if the Disbelievers Despise Such), their global vision starts in Rome, moves through the world ending with North America in the United States. South America isn’t even portrayed/visualised in their global propaganda map as existing,’’ she explains. Veryan says there are Daesh-affiliated Twitter accounts lamenting that a certain popular propaganda item has been translated into every other language besides Spanish. ‘‘This tells us that Latin America is low on Daesh’s outreach programme. The Caribbean, depending on the island, speaks a greater variety of languages (English, Spanish, French and Dutch or European language-based creoles). Therefore, Daesh’s message is more likely to get through to them.’’
On May 16th 2014, the terror tracking group noticed the very first tweet on the claim of the existence of Al Mexiki. Since then, all references to the Mexican in Daesh can be traced back to that first tweet but no new intelligence has been gathered on him.
‘‘I am not saying he doesn’t exist but I am saying that Tweet doesn’t pass our test for making a claim that it’s true. (Twitter is a very good source of primary resource information — but — Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium relies on key indicators and cross references to verify the veracity of any claim on Twitter.)
She says Latin America, particularly, Venezuela, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil have been much more receptive to Shia groups like Hezbollah than Sunni. Traditionally, the Shia discourse fits in better with the Leftist viewpoints from Venezuela and the overall revolutionary rhetoric.
There may be little cause for alarm about Daesh recruitments in South America, but Johan Obdola, a narco-terrorism expert and a former police chief in Venezuela, who heads the International Organization of Security and Intelligence, echoes Veryan’s views on Daesh in the Caribbean and says Trinidad and Tobago government officials have indicated that several of their nationals have joined the group
‘‘In the Caribbean, there is a group called Jamaat Al Muslimeen. Many of its members are based in Trinidad and Tobago. The group leader is Yasin Abu Bk, who could be playing an important role in recruitments for Daesh along with other actors,’’ says Johan.
So what are countries in the Caribbean and Latin America doing to counter Daesh’s propaganda and recruitment strategy? Veryan says individual countries are engaged at a planning level to counter threats posed by the group.
In a recent Daesh video called We will Burn America the group compiled a long series of “on the spot” reporting from local media outlets hyping up the porous border — so the border is on their radar. ‘‘But I think more in terms of calling for self- starters in North America rather than being in operational stages for cross-border activity,’’ clarifies Veryan.
Veryan agrees and says Daesh specialises in seeking out the disenfranchised, the people who feel guilty about their lives, the ones who want to make a difference for others. ‘‘Daesh has been very successful in cell strategy in Spain, but it has yet to really spread its message in Spanish. Which tells TRAC, again, if the person from Latin America is not actively searching it out and translating it, then the message is less likely to be heard.’’
But there is one thing that sets Boston apart from a lot of other cities, says Veryan Khan, the editorial director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
"If you think about Boston, it has one of the largest student populations in the world," she said.
Khan says that students are often deeply engaged in an intellectual, trial-and-error process about their worldview, and that can sometimes lead to radicalization. Kayyem agrees.
"I think the youthfulness definitely plays into it, just in the sense that young people tend to be mobile, they tend to be wired, they tend to be informed and they also tend to be sometimes disaffected," she said. "They tend to be looking for something to make meaning into their life."
Khan points out that the young, wired and disaffected are exactly who groups like ISIS are looking for.
"If you’re capable of using social media you are now a target for the Islamic State," she said. "A potential recruit. And it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done in the past."
Khan says that’s in stark contrast to years past, when groups like Al Qaeda sought recruits who were pure, pious individuals and knew the Koran inside and out.
"But Islamic State’s the great redeemer," she said. "It doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past. You could have been a drug addict, a non-Muslim, a prostitute, even, and they will redeem you and wash you of your sins. That’s a great message for someone who’s maybe feeling disenfranchised."
Khan and Kayyem both stress that despite our student population, despite what might seem like a trend here locally, there’s no evidence that the Bay State is more prone to terror activity than anywhere else.
"It’s not a hotbed, by any means," Khan said. "Are there activities? Yes, But there’s activities globally."
June. 03. 2015 | UK The International Business Times (IBT) | News
"Boko Haram has clearly spelled out what it is set to bring to the fight against the new president: determination to continue with attacks by small groups of fighters that still has arms such as rockets, the use of suicide bombings and bombings," she said. "The targets will remain public places, and Maiduguri will not be handed on a plate to the Nigerian government."
June. 03. 2015 | UK The International Business Times (IBT) | News
In this screenshot from Healing of the Believer's Chest, the video of the burning of a Jordanian pilot, IS used CGI to create the appearance of a fleet of ships at its disposal.TRAC
The Islamic State (Isis) has created a cult following with an insatiable appetite for its videos. It has enjoyed huge online success, based on the ability to create demand for what it can cheaply supply.
Another shot from Healing of the Believer's Chest. This time Islamic State uses CGI to create the appearance of horse back soldiers riding to battle in between Isis tanks.TRAC
In these videos, Isis executioners usually force the 'accused spy' to reenact his crime on film. Much like one sees in a television drama series, the soon-to-be-executed person pretends to explain a "flash back of events". These flashbacks are featured in between the 'confessional', another crucial component of the film.
A mysterious and important component of these videos is how calm the victims appear to be before their execution. Some victims are clearly drugged, but more importantly the victims go through endless dry-run rehearsals and they never really know when they will be killed. Presumably they are also secretly holding out the hope that the rehearsals are just for the filming, and they will not be executed.
One of the most shocking, and truly groundbreaking tactics in the world of terror, are the mass simultaneous beheading videos. What began as a novelty in the full-length feature film Even If the Disbelievers Despise Such has now become a mainstay in the Isis arsenal for terrifying people.
In Even If the Disbelievers Despise Such, the Islamic State featured 21 executioners of different nationalities, and their message was very clear: we are diverse, wide-spread, and powerful. This was such a popular approach for the Isis fan club that more mass simultaneous beheading videos were to follow: two in Libya and one very recently in Yemen. The latest messages were slightly different from those of their predecessor: we are not to be trifled with; you (the West) will be sorry for your actions; and get ready, world (especially Europe), we are coming for you next.
'The campaign is a holistic one, predicated on some of the western cultural cornerstones IS purports to despise. Images of gleaming shopping malls and succulent burgers in fast-food joints are liberally held up as examples of IS's subjects enjoying life under the black flag. The Daash propagandists haven't yet concocted an advert featuring a whistled ditty and the slogan 'I'm lovin' it', but they might as well have done.'
Read Veryan and Jasmine's article about IS's attempt to create the 'perfect caliphate' here.
In between these simultaneous beheading videos, the Islamic State released an execution video that was even more terrifying: the burning alive of a captive. In the video Healing the Believer's Chest, a Jordanian pilot, Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, was caged, soaked in gasoline, and ignited. Unique in many ways, this is the first Islamic State video to use CGI (computer generated imagery) smattered throughout the film. In fact, the Islamic State had to use CGI cameras to film the burning.
Feared too grotesque even for an Isis audience, the editors chose to film the actual burning with CGI cameras. When a human burns, large fat bubbles come to the surface, so ISIS decided to manipulate the sheer unsightliness of the event. CGI equipment is very expensive and complicated to operate, and Healing of the Believer's Chest may have been the most pricey of all the Isis videos.
For months the Islamic State had produced "man on the street" interviews asking the general public within the state of Sham what should be done with the pilot, so in this case the execution was not only greatly anticipated, it also got double the coverage. Ironically, this execution might have backfired on the Isis PR machine, for there were as many critics within the fan club, denouncing this style of execution as un-Islamic, as there were supporters of the film. It also invoked, like never before, criticism from other religious peers or authorities who might have stayed out of their way had they not chosen to execute the pilot by brutally burning him.
Lastly, but certainly not least, are the execution videos featuring child executioners. To date, the Islamic State has released three very graphic, first of its kind, videos — all featuring hostage confessionals— slowly leading to the crescendo of a child shooting the hostage at close range. These have been powerful messages to their audience guaranteeing the future of the Caliphate because ISIS is raising a generation of new, well trained, and confident fighters capable of leading the Caliphate in the decades to come.
A child executioner made a film star by Isis.TRAC
There is no doubt that Isis's strength in its video production lies with its producers, editors and directors. For the big budget releases, Isis uses a state-of-the-art machine that is also heavily used in Hollywood, an AVID editor. AVIDs are high tech, very expensive and very sophisticated.
The AVID contains over 70,000 functions, which require a team of editors to create a high-quality film. The "trailer" for Flames of War, released 16 September 2014, was much more sophisticated than any previous Isis film, indicating that either the Isis editors had mastered operating this complicated equipment or they brought in someone who did. Since that time, Isis has become more and more proficient in AVID production.
A common pitfall of other social media users and Millennials is that they often share too much information, sometimes to their detriment. In the recent video on the invasion of the Baiji Oil Fields, Isis featured its "control room" which operated drones and reported to the soldiers in the field the locations of key enemy installations. This video let viewers into the inner workings of the Isis operation, and may have given away key secrets.
Screen shot from inside the Islamic State "control room" during the Baiji Oil Refinery Operation (the largest oil refinery in Iraq). Released April 2015.TRAC Terrorism
There is another danger for Isis here: that they are setting the bar too high, and will be unable to sustain the pace of the brutality. At some point Isis could start losing its audience, either by not producing videos fast enough, or by becoming too brutal in the constant doubling-down on the creativity of its violence. When you have upped the stakes so high, one can never admit when one is loosing ground. Whenever IS fails to perform, or loses a battle somewhere, it is forced to deflect its audience's attention.
The media houses include al-Hayat, often used for propaganda material to lure foreign fighters to Syria/Iraq; al Furqan, which is used for execution material; and Itisam, which covers the day-to-day life of IS fighters. Video production requires skills in a wide variety of fields such as photography, editing and production, none of which seems to be in short supply within the Caliphate.
According to TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) is an al Qaeda-inspired Islamic extremist group in Bangladesh that started its activities during 2007 as Jama'atul Muslemin, funded by different NGOs. The group ceased to operate when funds dried up. It resurfaced during 2013 as ABT.
According to TRAC – Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium – Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) is an al Qaeda inspired Islamic extremist group in Bangladesh that started its activities during 2007 as the Jama’atul Muslemin, funded by different NGOs. The group ceased to operate when funding ended. It resurfaced during 2013 as the ABT.
“Leave our children alone!” is the message of a Bolingbrook, Illinois mother who wants Islamic State (ISIS) leaders and recruiters to hear. Last January, Zarine Khan's eldest son, 19-year-old Mohammed Khan, tried to travel with his 17-year-old sister and 16-year-old brother to Istanbul to join ISIS. The three were detained at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and Mohammed Khan, a US citizen, is being charged with trying to provide material support to ISIS militants.
Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), which runs a database of political violence, says that in terms of modern global jihadist movements, the current exodus is the third and most popular so-called jihad. ICSR, which has tracked the global jihad in Iraq and Syria since 2012, notes that the current numbers surpass those of the conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s and those in Somalia in 2006, making the conflict in Syria and Iraq the largest mobilization of foreign fighters to Muslim-majority countries since 1945.
Khan says that a large percentage of foreign fighters are young men and women — some of whom are not even out of their teens. "Jihadist Terrorism and Other Unconventional Threats" published in 2014 by the Center for Bipartisan Politics notes that many young people who try to join ISIS "are far from threatening." At least eight Americans between the ages of 18 and 20 have been caught trying to join ISIS in the last two years, one of them admitting in court that “as far as my fighting skills go, to be honest, I don't have any. ”
According to a Jasmine Opperman, a Cape Town based analyst with TRAC, a terrorism research and consultant consortium, there are three categories of South Africans currently travelling to Syria.
She said there are those looking to assist with the humanitarian emergencies of refugees, others seeking to assist ISIL in bolstering its administration and emergency services and a final group of people, who travel with the express intention of joining the war.
Most South Africans, who travel to ISIL-held territory, Opperman said, do so in a non-combatant capacity. There have, however, been reports of at least two South Africans who died in battle in Syria.
Imams in mosques across the country de;ivered a ‘national unified’ khutbah focused on ISIS today. The talks where all focused on encouraging Muslims to be wary of recruitment activities of the group in South Africa. This development comes after various Muslim organisations and scholars from across South Africa met recently to discuss the problem posed by the attraction of the Islamic State group among some South African Muslims. However, Jasmine Opperman from Terror and Analysis Consortium says it requires a more strategic approach. She joins us now online.....
The powerful media propaganda machine of the Islamic State (Isis) churns out more material than any other terrorist organisation. From big budget, blockbuster movie studio productions, to the do-it-yourself selfie, the shear amount of information is impressive. The Islamic State carefully crafts its image: no press release, video, or photo report goes out without an ulterior intention. Ever.
In recent months, TRAC has been witnessing a groundswell of success of IS's latest propaganda campaign, A Perfect Caliphate. This campaign of Portraying an Idealistic Islamic Caliphate (click for TRAC's analysis) is an attempt to present life inside IS-controlled ash Sham (the historic region of Syria) as an idyllic world in which everyone is well fed, healthy, and most of all extremely happy — all amidst a raging war.
The campaign is a holistic one, predicated on some of the western cultural cornerstones IS purports to despise. Images of gleaming shopping malls and succulent burgers in fast-food joints are liberally held up as examples of IS's subjects enjoying life under the black flag. The Daash propagandists haven't yet concocted an advert featuring a whistled ditty and the slogan 'I'm lovin' it', but they might as well have done.
This attempt to leaven the Isis brand aren't exactly new. Images of everything from white burqa weddings to sunsets over beautiful newly planted parks to brand new dealerships and five-star hotel openings have been present in past publicity, but over the last three months the propaganda machine has been ramping up the message.
Why would IS invest so much time in this type of propaganda? Well there are three reasons.The first is that IS is desperate for everyone in the world to see them as a legitimate nation-state; the second is that IS wants to prove that it governs a Sunni population better than any nation ever has in the past; thirdly, and probably most importantly, IS wants to attract people to come and live in the Caliphate - or at very least come and visit on their next vacation.
Never mind the battlefield realities, the endless sieges of various cities and towns or the brutality imposed by the improvised public kangaroo courts held in every street that IS controls, the people are carefree and joyous according to the IS propaganda campaign.
To bolster the shiny images of smorgasbords of food at kitchen tables, full markets lit up with electricity, and radiant families, IS also sprinkles in a healthy dose of "administration" videos and images of everything from licensing offices to tribal conflict resolution, to police cars (such as the one below) patrolling the streets.
Much was made of IS's new monetary system, the ISD (Islamic State Dinar), by supporters, and further attention was lavished on the new birth certificates and passports, all of which created the illusion of order within the Caliphate.
The new official state ID cards not only have hologram imaging to prevent counterfeit replicas but also computer chips built into the plastic. All of this subject of propaganda further presses the rendering of the Caliphate that IS wants us to see: an orderly, efficient state without fault.
Another secondary propaganda campaign that IS presents to reinforce its image of "perfection" is the portrayal of its educational system. Videos depict kindergarten classes taught in English and shiny new classrooms for elementary school with children impressively speaking long passages of the Quran flawlessly. Professional opportunities include advanced university degrees from undergraduate to medical doctorates (MD). New libraries and a new curriculum all present the facade that ISIS' educational system is state-of-the-art.
IS supporters are quick to point out that inside IS controlled areas women are not only allowed to drive but also comprise at least half the attendees of the advanced educational system (then quickly make the comparison to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). In addition, IS has changed the guidelines for achieving a medical degree, from the worldwide standard of four years to a fast track three-year program. In a recent English language e-book, A Brief Guide to the Islamic State 2015 by Abu Rumaysah al Britani (his taken name an indication of his former nationality), the educational system is described as better than any other because:
"There are no classes promoting homosexuality, evolution, music, drama, interfaith and the rest of the rubbish taught in non-Muslim schools. Your child's delicate mind is well and truly protected in the Caliphate and you can be sure that he or she will go on to achieve amazing things in the name of Islam."
The Caliphate, according to the Islamic State, is flawless in every way, a strong message to the disenfranchised. It is, however, all a mirage; the Islamic State has tailored its message for those looking for religious meaning and purpose in life: a so-called "Perfect Caliphate."
Beneath the utopian facade lies a cold brutal underbelly. The IS world contradicts its own projected values, where brutality, fear, policing, and spying on its own people are commonplace. Inside the Caliphate, complete rejection of anything but IS ideology underpins the daily life of its citizens. The rub is the obvious chasm between the hardships of life within the Caliphate and its idealistic portrayal.
Let there be no doubt, the Islamic State only ever shows you what they want you to see.
International security think tank Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) describes ABT as an "al-Qaeda-inspired Islamic extremist group in Bangladesh that started its activities during 2007 as the Jama'atul Muslemin."
It said the group was funded by different NGOs and it ceased to operate when funding ended but the outfit resurfaced during 2013 as the ABT.
May. 25. 2015 | Dhaka Tribune | News
Ansarullah Bangla Team banned
According to TRAC – Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium – Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) is an al Qaeda inspired Islamic extremist group in Bangladesh that started its activities during 2007 as the Jama’atul Muslemin, funded by different NGOs. The group ceased to operate when funding ended. It resurfaced during 2013 as the ABT.
But despite the apparently juicy idea that a traditionally male-dominated Islamist group features a woman in a senior role, security analysts believe these claims are silly and that most evidence suggests the White Widow is a low-level player at best. "There is no way she is second in command," Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, told VICE . "There's no evidence that she's actually in Somalia right now at all."
"In Islamic militant organizations, we've never seen any women have [so much as] a rank-and-file position," says Khan, suggesting that most reports of the Islamic State training female fighters have been overblown. Even if al Shabaab were to elevate a foreign woman, Hansen and Khan doubt that they'd be willing to show particular favor to Lewthwaite, given her lack of military experience.
Khan also points out that al Shabaab is known for quizzing its fighters on their knowledge of the Qur'an to make sure they are devout Muslims—and that given the search history and photos found on the computer recovered from Lewthwaite's house in Kenya, she isn't all that religiously savvy—or at least not until now. "There were all these Google searches for sun dresses," Khan says, "and pictures of her doing her hair and makeup... You look at the pious women of Islamic State and they don't even take off their gloves to take a picture. She's not that."
Khan acknowledges that there's some evidence that the White Widow has acted as a courier in the past. And other reports suggest that, at most, she acts as a low-level recruiter, valued for her knowledge of the United Kingdom and English language skills. Khan suspects that she's tolerated in this position in part because she may have money, in part because her notoriety could make her an asset to al-Shabaab, and in part because her son, now a tween, may be a potential future asset undergoing grooming to become a well-trained and famous future jihadi. Hansen believes her symbolism powerful, and suggests that she backed Godane during his internal crackdown, which could have saved her skin.
"But her being anything more than a courier or bagman," says Khan, "is something I can't see."
As to why people are so eager to believe reports of the White Widow's high stature in al-Shabaab, IS, or even the Ukraine, Khan thinks that's somewhat common when Westerners join foreign radical movements. The local press almost always gloms onto the idea that their own monster must be in a commanding position, whereas most foreigners usually wind up in low-level posts. Hansen suspects that as a woman especially, the press takes the White Widow to symbolize the dangerous attraction of al Shabaab—that the group can snap up "one of us, even a mother."
But in Lewthwaithe's case, Khan suspects that her evasion of blame and escape from the UK after the London subway bombings probably makes distant observers inclined to inflate her significance.
"She fooled the police," says Khan. "She fooled the UK. She fooled everybody. That hurts."
May. 21. 2015 | UK The International Business Times (IBT) | News
The notorious Mokhtar Belmokhtar (aka Mr. Marlboro) hit the headlines yet again this week, after his group the Mourabitounes released an audio message pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (Isis).
Belmokhtar immediately released his own media statement, claiming that this was in fact not true. But a day later, on 19 May, the group's co-leader Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui released yet another audio message proclaiming that they now held a European hostage, a Romanian, and ended with a repeated pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State.
Clearly the Mourabitounes are falling along the same Islamic State fault lines that many other traditionally Al-Qaeda-aligned groups are experiencing - whether to abandon AQC's weakened leadership or to team up with the more successful Islamic State.
Libya is the Perfect Stronghold
Belmokhtar was the mastermind of the brazen 2013 attack on the British Petroleum (BP) gas refinery in the southeastern Algerian site of In Amenas, famous for taking at least 570 people hostage, both Algerians and foreigners, in a four-day standoff.
Mr. Marlboro, already a hero to the North African jihadist community, solidified his hero status after the success of the In Amenas attack, winning the hearts of jihadists no matter whether they were aligned with Al-Qaeda or Isis.
It is commonly known that Mr. Marlboro has been residing in Libya for well over a year; what is less commonly known is that he is there under the protection of Ansar al Sharia in Libya. The combination of a multitude of militant groups, well established and organised criminal networks, and the general lawlessness of the area, places Libya in an ideal position both logistically and ideologically for the global jihadi cause.
Image: Sirte, Libya celebrates after IS announcement of the fall of Ramadi circulating 19 May 2015.
The two-fold consequence
Libya's significance to groups like the IS is not founded in how much territory any specific group controls or how many fighters are present in those groups, but rather in the absence of any form of governance. This vacuum enables IS to coerce support, establish safe havens, create supply networks, and engage in organised criminal activities, such as human smuggling, at will.
The rate of refugees coming from Libya to the European Union is alarming, and presents Libya as a very unique two-fold threat, both regionally (further destabilising North Africa) and transnationally (on the shores of the EU).
The growing threat to Europe through the illegal migration form North Africa (most notably Libya) to the shores of Europe (most notably Italy), combined with IS inroads into Libya, makes the fragile nation a complex double threat. The confusion over the true allegiance of the Mourabitunes belies the larger problem that Libya poses in general. The Romanian hostage situation demonstrates the willingness and ability of the group to target Europeans. It is not beyond the imagination of IS to send full boats carrying its operatives disguised as refugees.
Unchecked refugees sailing off Libyan shores can no longer be ignored as a security concern. Until the authorities are sure that those who disembarked on European soil are genuine refugees seeking a better life and not to implement terrorist schemes, the refugees will be a worry.
IS has vocally threatened Europe many times, but specifically highlights Libya's convenient proximity to Europe in the recent Coptic Christian execution video entitled: A Message Signed with Blood To the Nation of the Cross. The executioner warns "And today we are on the South of Rome on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message" minutes before orchestrating the mass simultaneous beheadings.
May. 08. 2015 | UK The International Business Times (IBT) | News
The Islamic State's (Isis's) strength is a voice of persistent propaganda combined with its ability to enact offensive and defensive military tactics that require a sizeable arsenal of advanced weapons. But IS's propaganda material showing battlefield success seldom provides information about the powerful weapons it has acquired or the means by which they were obtained.
Now, however, the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) has secured a set of photos that provides evidence that IS has obtained advanced weapons - without black market assistance.
As seen in the photos, taken from IS's Just Paste It submissions, the militants have acquired the AT-5 Spandrel, a sophisticated Nato-designated rocket system that is a previous version of the Russian Kornet ATGM. IS seized the rocket system, which is intended for use against enemy tanks and vehicles, at Alaas Field near Tikrit.
The consequence of IS capturing the AT-5 Spandrel is not only the firepower it delivers, but also the ease of training ground troops in using it.
The Spandrel is the weapon of choice for various defence forces, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Iraq and Poland. Because the industrial index number 9K113 is stamped on the tubes, the seized Spanrel system was probably supplied either by Iran or Russia and confiscated by IS from the Iraqi Army.
Introduced in 1977, the AT-5 Spandrel is comparable to the American TOW missile - the most widely used anti-tank missile in the world. With a range of 100 to 4,000 meters, this weapon is deadly from both short and long distances. This missile system is wire-guided, controlled by signals transmitted through fine wires uncoiled during the missile's flight that make it difficult to shoot down .
The AT-5's maximum range and speed are twice that of comparable systems, and the AT-5 missile is considerably heavier, giving it much more of an impact. Although the AT-5 is intended for use against ground vehicles, it has other significant applications as well, against heavy armour, bunkers, and fortifications.
Because IS has captured tactical systems even when losing territory, such as in Tikrit, it has acquired an important arsenal that strengthens its capabilities to attack other targets. Attempts by Western allies to reinforce Iraqi rebel groups with better weapons could lead to unintentional strengthening of IS, as with the Spandrel, as it continues to commandeer stockpiles of advanced weaponry.
Veryan Khan, who helps run the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, said that Mr. Simpson probably urged others to follow Mr. Hussain in order to draw broader attention to his forthcoming attack. “He wanted to make sure everyone in those circles knew what he’d done,” she said. “It was attention-seeking — that’s what it looks like,” added Ms. Khan, whose organization tracks some 5,000 Islamic State figures and supporters.
May. 07. 2015 | US International Business Times | News
“It's not just Twitter and Facebook, everything from Pinterest to Instagram to WordPress, to Just Paste It, to ask.fm to private jihadi forums to You Tube,” said Veryan Khan, the editorial director and founder of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, or TRAC. “Really, you name it and I can find someone using it to recruit.”
May. 05. 2015 | UK International Business Times | News
“The biggest mistake we can make now is to assume that this is Boko Haram’s last stronghold,” said Jas Opperman, a South Africa-based analyst at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
“It seems like the offensives have to some extent succeeded in cutting weapon supply lines and limiting recruitment of new Boko Haram fighters,” Opperman said. But these gains don't signal a total victory and could be a warning of more extreme acts to come.
“A weakened Boko Haram does not imply that the threat of attacks has diminished,” she said, adding that tactics such as suicide bombings and small-group attacks may become more common in the areas it still controls.
"Potentially there are three groups who will be interested in Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's sentencing: AQC (al Qaeda Central), IS and CE (The Caucasus Emirate). None are prepared to act on the attack, but more importantly, if any of these groups are ready to execute an attack, then they will not rely on a verdict to trigger an attack."
Yet, said Khan in conclusion: "The verdict is certain to give way to propaganda statements, but how much more can they really discredit the US as Satan? This is the crux: the risk of a looney out there deciding to shoot can never be ignored and that is the constant risk with this kind of verdict -- the death penalty."
TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium), a U.S.-based terrorism research organization, identified the all-female ISIS brigade as al-Khansaa, which is suspected of being based in the Syrian city of Raqqa where the three British girls are believed to be living.
ISIS assembled the female militia in February 2014 “with the purpose of exposing male activists who disguise in women’s clothing to avoid detention when stopping at the ISIL checkpoints,” said TRAC.
For all its brutality and barbarism, Isis continues to attract new recruits from all over the world – including several from South Africa. Its most potent propaganda tool is its sophisticated use of social media, and its unparalleled ability to persuade sympathisers – particularly the young and vulnerable – to leave home for the war zones of Syria and Iraq. JASMINE OPPERMAN explains how it’s done.
Of all the things the Islamic State (Isis) has been able to accomplish in a very short period of time, online recruitment is one of the most significant. The Islamic State was not the first terror group to recruit via social media, but, they perfected have it in a way that no one expected – not even other Jihadist groups.
It’s important to note that Isis recruitment efforts target a wide range of people, from the very wealthy to the poor; from the well-educated to the illiterate; and from the very old to the very young. This last demographic, however, is the most important. Youth (the aged 14-30 crowd) have been the driving force behind Isis, and the group is carefully targeting the Facebook and Twitter generation through the social media that define it. We must never forget that it is the youngest on among them that are the most vulnerable; they are the low-hanging fruit.
Because they are targeting such a broad audience, and don’t know exactly what will tip people over the edge, Isis’ social media efforts cover a vast range of topics. They feature ice cream socials and new playgrounds; up-to-the-minute battlefront reports and profiles of the latest “martyrs” (who other might describe as suicide bombers); day-in-the-life interviews with “typical” Islamic State citizens, who describe their happy lives as they walk through bountiful markets filled with meat and pastries. Although most of it is smoke and mirrors – this is propaganda, after all – the sheer amount of material is impressive.
The second element of the campaign is to push these messages across every possible platform, to guarantee the broadest possible reach. Some of the most popular include Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Ask.FM, SendVid, WordPress and Scribid; there is also an expansive array of private jihadi forums. The bottom line is this: if you have access to the internet, then Isis has access to you.
The group’s messaging is also gender-specific (and, naturally, it doesn’t exactly challenge gender stereotypes). For boys, Isis creates online games where one can play as “a real Islamic State cadre in mock battles based on recent real life successful battles”. Isis also edits existing video game trailers – for popular games like Call of Duty of Grand Theft Auto – to make it look like Isis has produced the same games.
For girls, it’s a very different approach. Isis promotes the idea of jihadis as love interests, playing up the possibility of an exciting, adventurous romance with a handsome young warrior who needs and wants you as much as he is dedicated to God. It entices girls with the prospect of playing an important role in the jihad.
Most significantly, perhaps, is that Isis offers instant redemption. Unlike Al Qaeda-affiliated groups, who are looking for the pure of heart, the Islamic State is the great redeemer. It doesn’t matter if you were a drug dealer, an alcoholic, a prostitute or a non-Muslim; Isis will absolve you of your sins and offer you a sense of belonging. This is an avenue of acceptance for some who struggle to find it anywhere else.
Once Isis targets express some kind of sympathy or interest in the cause, the recruitment operation starts to focus on the individual. This can take several forms, from a personal meeting with an individual or Isis cell in the target’s immediate environment, to establishing a relationship on private social media accounts. This is where specific advice is dished out: how and where to travel, what clothes to take, how to avoid detection, and details of what happens on arrival. The idea is to reassure the potential recruit that all arrangements have been taken care of and that they are in good hands.
It’s an effective strategy, as its results have proved. It’s also very difficult to defend against. While countries need to institute better border controls, the first line of defence is families themselves. Warning signs include shutting down social circles; extreme, uncompromising views; and a sudden interest in passports. Isis’ use of social media means that it is waging its war in people’s homes; therefore, it is in homes that it must be defended against. DM
Jasmine Opperman is the Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
“ISIS presence is gaining an increased “face” of networks and cell across the globe, as seen in France, Morocco, Australia and Spain,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a U.S.-based research group focusing on political violence. “These networks plan and execute attacks without any direct instruction from the ISIS top leadership.”
Douri purportedly led the Sufi armed group, The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order. Also know by the acronym JRTN, it was formed after Hussein’s execution in the mid-2000s. Most members are Sunni and have a history of targeting coalition forces, according to Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
April. 08. 2015 | Die Burger | News
Four South Africans More than Likely In Syria - A Warning that South African Youth is Targeted
There is international alert on the activities of ISIS in many countries, some have taken precautionary measures but one can never be too careful. ISIS recruitment are reported to be in many communities across the globe and usually targeted at the youth and young people. Xolani Gwala spoke to Jasmine Opperman, director at Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium who expressed that ISIS uses r targets young people because they are more vulnerable. They use methods of promising the young people an idea life of joy and opulence but once they've crossed the border they find that the picture is far from the promise.
Jasmine says although young people are usually and easily found on social media the awareness may be created that way but there are more advanced and directed methods by ISIS. She warned that it looks like the net is being cast and that South Africa needs to wake up to this reality.This resulted from the story of a fifteen year old girl who was taken off a plane from Cape Town, reportedly on her way to Syria to join the ISIS movement after being recruited.
Parents should look out for more indicators regarding their children's behaviors, from change in interests, need for passports and cutting off friends and other child-like activities or personality.
— Jasmine Opperman
Listen to the interview here with Jasmine Opperman and Xolani Gwala here..
Con il brutale omicidio del giornalista americano James Foley, l’Is ha lanciato apertamente la sua sfida all’Occidente.
La nascita del Califfato di Abu Bakr al Baghdadi ha segnato uno spartiacque nella lotta al terrorismo islamico e la minaccia si è trasformata in qualcosa di nuovo, di più ambizioso e di più pericoloso. 1.400 EUROPEI COI JIHADISTI. Il primo ministro britannico, David Cameron, ha interrotto le vacanze con la famiglia per rientrare a Londra. Il timore è infatti che il boia mascherato del video in cui viene decapitato Foley sia uno dei tanti sudditi di Sua Maestà partiti per combattere con i jihadisti in Siria e Iraq. Secondo quanto pubblicato dal Guardian, l’uomo, che parla con uno spiccato accento britannico, è il capo di una cellula di quattro combattenti britannici che operano a Damasco e dintorni. In tutto, secondo i governi continentali, sono 1.400 gli europei che hanno imbracciato le armi in Siria. E la maggior parte di loro milita nell'Is. «RISCHI ALTISSIMI PER L’ITALIA». E mentre l'Interpol invita a una risposta globale contro il terrorismo, il mondo si interroga sulle reali possibilità di penetrazione e attentati dello Stato Islamico in Occidente. Secondo Veryan Khan, direttrice editoriale del Trac, il Consorzio di ricerca e analisi sul terrorismo con sede negli Usa, i «rischi sono altissimi». E l'Italia è un «bersaglio più facile rispetto a Regno Unito, Germania e Francia».
Combattenti dell'Is. Nel riquadro, Veryan Khan, direttrice editoriale del Trac.
DOMANDA. Gli Stati del Golfo, alleati degli Usa, stanno finanziando l'Is. Perché? RISPOSTA. Le donazioni private provenienti dagli Stati del Golfo sono usate per influenzare e ottenere potere. Bisogna sempre tenere a mente che è in corso la più grande battaglia per il potere, quella tra sciiti e sunniti. D. Si spieghi meglio. R. Tale sostegno potrebbe essere attribuito a vari motivi, come la mancanza di fiducia nel coinvolgimento degli Usa nella regione, il supporto ai sunniti contro il governo di Bashar al Assad e più recentemente contro il governo iracheno. Ma anche al fatto che vedono l’Is come una forza d’opposizione all’influenza dell’Iran sciita sulla regione. Per l’Arabia Saudita l’Is rappresenta il mezzo ideale per contrastare l’Iran e diffondere il ceppo wahabita nella regione. D. Da chi arrivano esattamente i finanziamenti all’Is? R. Ricchi donatori in Arabia Saudita, Kuwait, Turchia e Qatar. La frequente mancanza, da parte di questi governi, di una risposta volta a contrastare tale finanziamento è stata vista come un’indiretta approvazione del sostegno offerto. A prescindere dalla recente dichiarazione dei governi del Medio Oriente, secondo cui essi avrebbero migliorato le misure per contrastare il flusso di denaro verso l’Is, queste pratiche sono apertamente in corso. D. Qual è il Paese più esposto? R. Il Kuwait è stato definito essenziale nella fornitura di finanziamenti non solo all’Is, ma anche ad altri gruppi di ribelli siriani. Il Paese raccoglie fondi da donatori negli Stati del Golfo. Da qui poi i soldi trovano la loro strada attraverso la Turchia e la Giordania. D. Oltre che con le donazioni dei privati, come si finanzia l’Is? R. Ora come ora lo Stato Islamico riceve finanziamenti da molte fonti: vendendo petrolio, controllando la fornitura d’acqua e sequestrando persone in cambio di un riscatto. Per non parlare delle recenti importanti rapine in banca a Mosul, che hanno già fatto dell’Is il più ricco gruppo terroristico del mondo. D. L'Is ha diversi centri di reclutamento in Europa: anche in Italia? R. La Spagna è molto più nota. A partire da giugno del 2014, le autorità spagnole hanno arrestato 472 persone sospettate di collaborare al reclutamento di jihadisti. Francia, Regno Unito e Germania sono altri grossi centri di reclutamento per lo Stato Islamico. Grazie all’impegno online, il reclutamento è più semplice e diffuso che mai. D. Quali rischi corre l’Italia? R. L’Italia è un bersaglio più facile rispetto a Regno Unito, Germania e Francia. D. Ne è convinta? R. La vulnerabilità dell’Italia nei confronti della minaccia terroristica è riscontrabile negli arresti di sospetti accusati di aver pianificato gli attacchi a Londra e negli Stati Uniti. Una ventina, tra il 2013 e il 2014, a Roma, Milano, Venezia, Anzio (leggi il dettaglio del report). D. E il Vaticano? R. Bè, parlando di ideologia il Vaticano rappresenta una minaccia diretta e un centro di potere ben consolidato capace di esercitare un’influenza sul mondo. Detto questo, penso che le cellule dell’Is siano più propense a scegliere come obiettivo un bersaglio meno fortificato. D. Quali sono i pericoli per Stati Uniti ed Europa nel suo complesso? R. La minaccia più pericolosa è rappresentata dal ritorno di combattenti ben addestrati. Non possiamo sostenere che tutti quelli che torneranno attaccheranno il loro Paese d’origine ma, se anche solo una minima parte lo farà, i rischi saranno enormi. D. Quali tattiche potrebbero usare per attaccare? R. Sono tanti i modi in cui gli attacchi potrebbero essere pianificati, supportati ed eseguiti. Un esempio significativo è il caso di Mehdi Nemmouche in Belgio: qui alcuni civili ebrei sono stati uccisi dall’attacco di un lupo solitario. Monitorare chi parte e chi ritorna è cruciale. Ancor prima è fondamentale contrastare gli sforzi di radicalizzazione per evitare che le persone partano. D. Perché, secondo lei, l’Is si è diffuso così tanto? R. Fa appello alle giovani generazioni, i suoi membri “appaiono” e si presentano non solo come efficaci, ma anche come “puri”. Il travolgente sostegno allo Stato Islamico su Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Sound Cloud e Just Paste It lo rende una centrale elettrica del reclutamento. D. Due ragazze italiane sono state rapite in Siria da un commando di uomini armati. Quali sono i gruppi terroristici che operano in quell’area? R. Questo rapimento è un caso molto strano. Il fatto che, come è stato riferito, le due ragazze se la siano “svignata” per andare a fare le volontarie in una delle aree più lacerate del mondo desta sospetti. Penso che l’Is abbia già rivendicato il rapimento. Diverse divisioni dello Stato Islamico sono note per aver rapito donne, ma la presenza di occidentali sul territorio sembra l’occasione ideale per chiedere un grosso riscatto e non per una mera “gratificazione personale”. D. I ribelli sarebbero in grado di sconfiggere i gruppi terroristici in Siria? R. Attualmente il Fronte Islamico e il Fronte al Nusra sono gli unici due gruppi capaci di ostacolare l’Is. Detto ciò, dopo aver passato anni a combattere fra di loro, nessuno di questi due gruppi ha avuto successo nello sconfiggere lo Stato Islamico. In realtà, secondo alcune voci, entrambi hanno fazioni che stanno disertando per passare all’Is.
DHKP-C "was always an active antigovernment group," Coskun Unal, a Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium analyst and retired Turkish Lieutenant Colonel, told VICE, explaining the overriding goals of the DHKP-C and its progenitors' unrelenting—if somewhat low-level—attacks from this era onwards.
"They aimed to harass every government in power... and were capable of planning and executing sensational attacks in Turkey," he added.
In 2000, according to Varyan Khan of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), they launched the "Revolutionary Wave Program" to increase their visibility in the country, including a massive and deadly prison hunger strike and attempts to assassinate a number of prominent Turkish individuals. Some say they were drawing on al Qaeda tactics, including suicide bombings, which they tested on a police station in 2001 before ramping up small-scale attacks on Turkish governmental facilities in 2003. But after a series of crackdowns and with the illness of their leader, Dursun Kartas, aka Dayi, the group began to quiet down, fading into near-obscurity by decade's end.
"[They have] been through a long reorganization and regrouping process," according to Unal. "Between 2007 and 2012, when Kartas was still alive but struggling with cancer, they decided to revise the group and their objectives. They gave recruitment and octrine trainings utmost importance and tried to expand their influence among Turkey's [Alevi] groups, as well as among universities."
Unal believes that during that time they also developed a strong following among a number of lawyers, who took issue with the judicial system under now-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP). This growing support sector may help to explain why the DHKP-C would target a courthouse and a state prosecutor working on behalf of Elvan. They apparently believed that this prosecutor was, as a state actor, was complicit in AKP hegemony.
After his death in exile in 2008, according to Khan, Kartas was replaced by three leaders: Musa Asoglu, Zerrin Sari, and Huseyin Feyzi Tekin, who had very different ideas about the DHKP-C. "The new leadership preferred avoidance of direct confrontations with the Turkish government," Khan said, "resulting in a low-key presence." For a time.
“The graduation photos send a message by ISIS that it has a military capacity ready to defend the Islamic Caliphate – a ‘government’ that has not lost control and will be able to defend its ‘territory,’ said Jasmine Opperman, the African-based analyst for the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium.
However, with ISIS creating pockets of control, training camps are being held in Libya and on the border areas between Tunisia and Algeria, Opperman said.
The skills required to advance their cause are changing. ISIS is creating what it calls “The Intractable Army,” with soldiers who can rappel from buildings, fight in cities and aim its rocket launchers with precision.
“In the battlefield of the immediate future, urban warfare will require more specialized skills such as the use of snipers,” Opperman said.
“In its desperation to regain international attention and prestige, Al-Shabaab uses the Islamic State's propaganda tactics and brutality sending a message they not only have the capacity to execute at free will, but also announcing their undeterred presence,” said Jasmine Opperman, the African director of the terrorist-tracking group, Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. “More than likely, Al-Shabaab is sending signals to the Islamic State that there is little difference between the groups.”
Senior ISIS media activist and inciter Hamil al-Bushra appealed to "our people in Somalia" just weeks ago, asking them to “pledge of allegiance” to ISIS and also called on Al-Shabaab to execute lone wolf type attacks, Opperman said.
Al-Shabaab's use of ISIS tactics, such as filming their bloody and terrifying exploits on video and making them public, must not be seen as indicative of an imminent pledge of allegiance to ISIS, Opperman said. The group already has stated allegiance to Al Qaeda.
Al-Shabaab remains prominent in the southern and central areas of Somalia, Opperman said, and also continues attacks in Mogadishu, such as the one, Friday, on Hotel Maka Al Mukaram in Mogadishu where nine people were murdered.
March. 26. 2015 | The Voice of the Cape | Radio News
an extremist Salafi group that has since its foundation claimed responsibility for a series of operations against Iran’s domestic security forces and Revolutionary Guards operating in Sistan and Balochistan province, including the detonation of mines against Revolutionary Guards vehicles and convoys, kidnapping of Iranian border guards and attacks against military bases… Jaish al-Adl is also opposed to the Iranian Government’s active support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which they regard as an attack on Sunni muslims…Jaish ul-Adl executes cross border operations between the border of Iran and Pakistan and is based in the Baluchistan province in Pakistan.
John Harrison, senior analyst at Cyberpoint, associate editor for the Journal of Transportation Security and contributor to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, said terrorists will stick to what they know: Explosives and other conventional tactics.
“Most terrorist groups do not appear to have the technical sophistication to hack into systems the way some describe,” Harrison said.
Terrorists need opportunity and access to the target, Harrison said.
“Terrorists have invested considerable time and resources to identify and exploit vulnerabilities in the aviation system,” Harrison said.
There was a “disturbing” report back in December of “Operation Cleaver,” an apparent Iranian cyber espionage campaign that aimed to find cyber-enabled ways of bypassing airport physical security, Harrison said.
“While there don’t appear to have been any actual attacks accomplished this way, Operation Cleaver appears to offer a disturbingly modern cyber alternative to hiding bombs in body cavities,” Harrison said.
The decision to use a young boy in the assassination could be an effort to highlight IS’s recruiting ability. IS “is demonstrating the ‘growing’ Caliphate and that they are raising their next generation of warriors now,” Veryan Khan of the Florida-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium told Fox News.
However, the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) said that the video did look genuine. TRAC's Veryan Khan said it appears the boy had quite a few 'dry runs' before the actual execution because he seemed well trained.'
She added: 'Notice how he takes his finger off the trigger after firing and rests it to the side of the trigger? He wasn't red in the face and wasn't even shaking. This indicates proficiency with a pistol, only people who are trained know to rest their finger to the side.'
She also pointed out that the production team were the same which put together an ISIS video of a child executing other 'spies' that was released in January.
One of the most frightening aspects of the video, according to Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, is the threat at the end made against specific Mossad agents, which in addition to providing their names in English and Arabic on a “hit list,” also lists their home addresses and maps of their locations. While the Mossad are notable targets, ISIS makes an international appeal in the video, Khan said. “In this video, ISIS appeals the Palestine people saying ‘we haven’t forgotten your plight’ and issues a call to French speaking fighters, saying ‘Your voice is powerful within the state, and your foreign fighters hold key glamorous positions.’ To the English speaking audience, they seek potential recruits and political leaders. To Israel, they say “You are not safe, we know who you are and where you live.”
“Since 2015, Islamic State has been pushing hard its “cub” training program and we’ve seen a significant up tick in ‘graduation’ photo journals, training facilities and one other foreign fighter child executioner,” Khan said. “The use of a child executioner is significant because ISIS is demonstrating the “growing” Caliphate and that they are raising their generation of warriors now.”
March. 10. 2015 | International Business Times - UK | News
Boko Haram is also facing major challenges from an African Union-authorized regional task force that has been gaining ground in recent weeks. In light of that struggle, Boko Haram’s pledge to ISIS could be “an attempt at seeking quick fixes to two areas they are currently struggling with, namely, recruitment and access to arms,” said Veryan Khan, the editorial director of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium intelligence group, in an email. “The pledge does seem like an outcry for immediate help.”
“Boko Haram has entered the realm of international jihadism, and by so doing will gain prestige among the vast supporters of Islamic State,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC). “Given the fact that Boko Haram not only controls large swaths of territory, holds hundreds and hundreds of hostages, and is the most successful terror operation out of Africa right now, ISIS has gained a real foothold,” Khan said.
The Islamic State must officially accept Boko Haram's “bay’ah” or pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State, though it is unlikely that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will deny it, considering his strategy of world expansion and control, said Jasmine Opperman, TRAC Director of African Operations.
ISIS has flourished where there is weak governance and instability, and Africa has many such areas that could be seen as "lucrative markets,” Opperman said.“When the ISIS accepts the pledge it will be a clear message to other groups such as Ansaru, AQIM and al-Shabaab to join,” Opperman said. “That will allow an expansion into north and central Africa similar to what was seen since June 2014 in Iraq.”
The pledge also will elevate the profile of Boko Haram’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, attention that “Shekau so desperately seeks,” Khan said, comparing him to “witch doctor – part voodoo/part radical Islam,” but noting he has had an image “makeover” in recent weeks. “By Boko Haram pledging to the Islamic State, Shekau has secured a safe haven for Boko Haram's leadership. Even if the current Nigerian offensives are to succeed, a temporary escape could be made to another IS stronghold from where Boko Haram's life cycle can be maintained irrespective of distance,” Khan said.
Boko Haram’s pledge could be an attempt at seeking quick fixes to two areas they are currently struggling with, namely, recruitment and access to arms, Opperman said.“Boko Haram is now part and parcel of the ISIS-aligned international jihadist threat,” Opperman said. “Any deterring operation will have to take into account Boko Haram, and that means greater international involvement in an area already overwhelmed by foreign presence and interests.”
While the pledge doesn’t hand the reigns of evil completely to ISIS, “ISIS will provide a strategy and directly guide on who to target, where to target and how to target,” Khan said.
“The announcement has far greater implications than being a mere symbolic act. Boko Haram is one of the more significant pledges of allegiance made to ISIS,” said Jasmine Opperman, Africa Director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Centre. She points out that ISIS still need to accept the pledge, although this seems like a foregone conclusion.
March. 08. 2015 | The International Business Times | News
TRAC's director of African operations Jasmine Opperman said: "The ISIS is clear in its objectives -- to expand the Islamic Caliphate Project by means of expansion and control. This is not only achieved by means of gaining physical control in areas, but gaining support and loyalty from individuals, groups and organizations. A pledge of allegiance from Boko Haram will serve this objective."
March. 2015 | ASIS Security Management | News
THE LONE TERRORIST
Lone wolf terrorism is a growing threat largely due to the wide array of terrorist propaganda and recruiting materials available on the Internet, experts say. Groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) and al Qaeda are especially proficient in using social media to call upon Americans to carry out jihad—holy war—in their own nations, says Veryan Khan, editorial director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
“In my opinion, lone wolf terrorism will always be a threat,” she says. “It’s cheap, easy, and requires no training or investment on their part. There is absolutely nothing to lose to inspire individuals. It’s been a part of terrorism culture since almost the inception.”
March. 04. 2015 | i24 | News
BOKO HARAM POSTS VIDEO COPYING ISLAMIC STATE'S TECHNIQUES
- (article no longer available online)
The video, which was initially posted on Twitter by Boko Haram's media arm, was reported on by the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), which monitors terrorist groups online.
“This latest release shows Boko Haram is not a mere copycat of ISIS; rather, it is incorporating itself into the Islamic State,” Veryan Khan, editorial director of TRAC, told ABC. “Islamic state supporters are already starting to call Boko Haram the ‘Islamic State Africa.'"
Boko Haram previously published only one beheading, of a Nigerian fighter pilot whose plane went down in September.
“This is huge news,” Khan said. “I believe Boko Haram is more than just copying the Islamic State -- their image is being ‘shaped’ at very least in the ISIS media wing,” Khan said. “Immediately after Baghdadi declared the Islamic State Caliphate, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau did the same. We then started seeing (in the videos) the Islamic State flags being painted onto Boko Haram’s most prized possessions, their AFVs and tanks, most recently on Feb. 20 during the ops within the Northeastern Nigeria border.”
Khan also noted there also are similar propaganda strategies in terms of frequency, content representation and use of the social media Twitter.
“Jan. 18, Boko Haram opened its first Twitter account -- it was taken down within a week, but the group had never tried a campaign via Twitter before,” Khan said, noting Boko Haram immediately gained more than 3,000 followers. “There was grassroots support for Boko Haram from Islamic State-affiliated Twitter accounts.”
Jasmine Opperman, TRAC’s director of African operations, told ABC that, “ISIS is clear in its objectives -- to expand the Islamic Caliphate Project by means of expansion and control,” Opperman said. “This is not only achieved by means of gaining physical control in areas, but gaining support and loyalty from individuals, groups and organizations. A pledge of allegiance from Boko Haram will serve this objective.”
In addition, Boko Haram is the only other terrorist group in the world that currently holds and governs territory, and is the only really successful terrorist group in all of Africa, Khan said.
“Boko Haram's power projection will gain an image boost with such a pledge,” Opperman said.
“Attempts at flying to Istanbul persist, irrespective of stricter air travel security at airports,” said Jasmine Opperman, a South Africa-based analyst at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, or TRAC. “What is more frequent is ‘broken flying,’ whereby would-be fighters travel to intermediate destinations.”
“Islamic State in Africa,” read a dramatic headline from the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium about the beheading video. The consortium used an acronym for the Islamic State: “2nd Boko Haram video shows ISIS acceptance as a branch, facilitates its media.”
The 6-minute video, titled “Harvest of Spies,” translated into English, French and Arabic, was posted Monday on Twitter by Boko Haram's media arm and initially reported by Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), which monitors terrorist groups online. “This latest release shows Boko Haram is not a mere copycat of ISIS; rather, it is incorporating itself into the Islamic State,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of TRAC. “Islamic state supporters are already starting to call Boko Haram the ‘Islamic State Africa.'"
“This is huge news,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, after seeing videos released by Boko Haram that use high definition cameras, special effects, and the same media platform as ISIS as polished as any of ISIS’ sophisticated cinematography productions.
“I believe Boko Haram is more than just copying the Islamic State -- their image is being ‘shaped’ at very least in the ISIS media wing,” Khan said. “Immediately after Baghdadi declared the Islamic State Caliphate, Boko Haram’s leader Abubakar Shekau did the same. We then started seeing (in the videos) the Islamic State flags being painted onto Boko Haram’s most prized possessions, their AFVs and tanks, most recently on Feb. 20 during the ops within the Northeastern Nigeria border.”
Jasmine Opperman, TRAC’s director of African operations, and Khan, noted there also are similar propaganda strategies in terms of frequency, content representation and use of the social media Twitter.
“Jan. 18, Boko Haram opened its first Twitter account -- it was taken down within a week, but the group had never tried a campaign via Twitter before,” Khan said, noting Boko Haram immediately gained more than 3,000 followers. “There was grassroots support for Boko Haram from Islamic State-affiliated Twitter accounts.”
March. 02. 2015 | International Business Times - UK | News
Khan believes Boko Haram, which has killed thousands in its fight for an Islamic state in the north of Nigeria, is now having its image "shaped" by the propaganda wing of the younger but more well-known Isis based thousands of miles away in Iraq and Syria, although with some sympathisers in north Africa.
"Immediately after Baghdadi declared the Islamic State Caliphate, Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau did the same," says Khan.
Last week Nigerian Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah said the war against the group was "
February. 28. 2015 | International Business Times - US | News
“The quest to travel to Syria in support [of] ISIS has not changed, and attempts at getting to Syria are continuing,” said Jasmine Opperman, a South Africa-based analyst [formerly] at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, or TRAC, a unit of the Beacham Group LLC, headquartered in Nokomis, Florida.
“Recruitment is as successful as ever,” added Veryan Khan, the editorial director and founder of TRAC. “Hashtags are huge for the Islamic State recruitment process,” TRAC’s Khan said. “[ISIS is] the first I have ever seen to produce and change hashtags almost hourly. They always trend within the jihadi fan boy club.” "This Islamic State is the great ‘redeemer.’ Many are looking to wash themselves clean of a previous life of haram,” Khan said. “Since each person’s choice is individual, they never know what is going to be the most influential tipping point, so they cover the gamut of subjects to appeal to any- and everyone.”
CNN interviews TRAC Editorial Director, Veryan Khan, on the discovery of the first woman on Islamic State front lines. Click Image to play video.
February. 25. 2015 | Fox 28 | News
ISIS uses Disney movie to recruit children
Veryan Khan of TRAC, the terrorism research and analysis consortium says, "The Islamic State has been adamant about not letting women have battlefield roles. So, this is really a unique case." Khan has been following the digital footsteps of a Canadian woman who traveled to Syria, and quickly stationed herself along ISIS frontlines. Because her location finder was still switched on her smart phone, TRAC was able to trace her steps from Aleppo to Kobani, Raqqa and Mosul. Highly unusual travel that Khan believes indicates an important female role for an ISIS recruit.
It appears she may have been acting as reconnaissance for surveillance of Islamic State's enemies. She was in all known Islamic State enemy territory even though we know she's an Islamic State supporter. So, perhaps she's been sent as a spy," says Khan.
The female recruits of ISIS are often teenagers, young women, like the 15 and 16 year old British school girls, who police think crossed into Syria just days ago. Both TRAC and the Institute of Strategic Dialogue say this is the target demographic for ISIS: Young and impressionable, sold on dreams of Disney and Jihad.
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, a US-based monitoring group, al-Khansa was set up by IS commanders in Raqqa, northern Syria, in February last year. Its members dress in black robes, wear a full-face veil and are paid a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian pounds - about £100. Their duties include the strict enforcement of sharia law dress code as well as searching burka-clad women to ensure they are not enemy fighters in disguise.
Although Abu Hurayra would not reveal his real name, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) was able to trace the location of the latest tweets to Syria, and confirm that elements of his social media profile were established in South Africa. This lends credence to his story. He also sent Daily Maverick a photograph of a South African passport with the first page torn up (“That’s my SA passport,” he said. “I tore up the first page because of its disbelief saying ‘in the name of the president’. I’m going to burn it out soon, by the will of Allah”); and several masked pictures of himself with his new AK-47.
“South Africa must not be naïve,” said Jasmine Opperman, Africa director for TRAC. “The Islamic State’s strategy is simple as set out in its propaganda magazine Dabiq. It’s a call to action by a worldwide audience in support of the Islamic State, not only by means of those travelling to fight in Syria and Iraq, but for those who cannot travel for whatever reason to take actions where they are present – and this reality is also present in South Africa.”
The FoxNews quoted Editorial Director of the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, Veryan Khan as saying, “The Islamic State’s manipulation of their high-production videos has become commonplace. The murders likely took place in a studio, and the background image shown was likely from another location, the Bay in Sirte, a part of the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya. There are several technical mistakes in the video that show it was manipulated.”
Backing Veryan Khan's point of view, Hollywood horror film director Mary Lambert also told FoxNews that “The shot that seems really tampered with is the one with the really tall Jihadists and the dwarf Christians. Also the close-ups of Jihadists on the beach are most likely green screen.”
February. 21. 2015 | International Business Times | News
“The Islamic State’s manipulation of their high-production videos has become commonplace,” Khan adding that the militant group’s “revolutionary” use of green-screen techniques was likely done “to limit exposure to drones [and] satellite [locating of] their operations.” Khan reasoned it was during the post-production process that the video’s editors added the executions to previously captured outdoor scenes.
Veryan Khan, of the Florida-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, told Fox News that there are several technical mistakes in the video that show it was manipulated. She said that in the shot of the terrorists marching their prisoners along the beach, the jihadis appear to be 7ft tall - towering as much as two feet above their victims. This observation was supported by Hollywood director Mary Lambert who described it as the shot with the 'really tall Jihadists and the dwarf Christians.' Ms Khan added that the terrorist who speaks in the clip - dubbed 'Jihad Joseph' - appears much bigger than the sea in some shots, while his head looks out of proportion to the scene.
“The Islamic State’s manipulation of their high-production videos has become commonplace,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium. The murders likely took place in a studio, and the background image shown was likely from another location, the Bay in Sirte, a part of the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya, according to Khan. There are several technical mistakes in the video that show it was manipulated, she said.
The most obvious, Khan said, is the speaker, “Jihad Joseph” is much larger than the sea in both the close up and wide shots, and his head is bizarrely out of proportion, meaning he was filmed indoors and the sea added behind him, Khan said. In addition, the jihadists featured in the film look to be more than 7 feet tall, towering as much as two feet above their victims.
Other technical giveaways: The sound of the ocean is likely a well-known audio track. Even more bizarre, the stream of blood in the ocean at the end of the video, and during the beheading of the final victim, is most likely not real. TRAC’s forensic analyst said turning the sea red is the “cheapest and easiest post-production tool” and “can even be achieved with a cell phone.” But doing it in the manner portrayed in the video is actually impossible, Khan said.
The most amateur mistake, according to Khan’s forensic analyst, is getting the perspective along the shoreline all wrong.
“What is supposed to be the seashore is, in reality, a bay as determined by the tide, rocks, and wave action. Looking at the two big sets of footprints in the sand shown at a 90- degree angle, neither set of footprints can be the hostages or the hostage takers. Had this been a seaside shot, the sand would have been much softer and the victims’ footprints would have sunk much deeper into the sand,” the forensic analyst reports.
“These video releases mark the significant push that Islamic State is having toward Francophone recruitment,” Veryan Khan, of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a Florida-based global research firm specializing in political violence and terrorism. “If it also results in transnational attacks outside the Sham, then that is just gravy on top of the plate for them."
The Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium have been tracking al-Shammari since her arrival in the Middle East, using the geocodes she inadvertently attaches to every tweet to follow 'LA's' movements around the vast swathes of Syria and Iraq under ISIS' control.
The experts say they have never seen a female ISIS fighter moving so frequently and so rapidly, which suggests 'LA' is operating in a senior capacity, possibly in surveillance or spying role.
Speaking of her unexplained rise, TRAC's Veryan Khan told Fox News: 'What is really surprising is that in a very short period of time, L.A. appears to have taken an extremely active role with ISIS.'
'We have never seen someone move about this rapidly... What makes it even more unusual is that she is newly traveled to Islamic State. Having only been there since Dec. 8, it is odd that she would become so active so quickly once arriving,' he added.
'Based on 'LA's' locations and congruent battles in these locations, it is been assumed that she is conducting, at least on some level, surveillance for the Islamic State,' he went on to say.
February. 05. 2015 | Radio Algeria | News
Jasmine Opperman, Director of African Opperations, Speaks on Boko Haram's Expansion
The Quilliam Foundation, a UK-based counter-extremism think tank, which has worked with US-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) to examine Islamic State (IS) propaganda videos, has published an English translation of a treatise that aims to attract female recruits to IS.
"What is really surprising is that in a very short period of time, L.A. appears to have taken an extremely active role with ISIS," said Veryan Khan, of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a Florida-based global research firm specializing in political violence and terrorism.
Government and private intelligence agencies closely monitor social media accounts of known jihadists, not only for the substance of their chatter, but also for its origin. Khan said the woman known as L.A. has sent Tweets applauding Islamic State atrocities from "virtually every major city that ISIS controls.”
“We have never seen someone move about this rapidly," Khan said. "What makes it even more unusual is that she is newly traveled to Islamic State. Having only been there since Dec. 8, it is odd that she would become so active so quickly once arriving,” said Khan.
The Kassabeh video, titled “Healing the Believers Chests”, is – like many of IS’s videos - very slickly produced and clearly required a lot of resources. A previous video released in November 2014 – shorter and less professional than the Kassasbeh one – was estimated by a researcher at the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium to have cost around $200,000 and required a director, producer and editor.
February. 03. 2015 | International Business Times | News
A report by the U.S.-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, or TRAC, said the woman had been tweeting from Toronto up until Nov 2014, when suddenly she appeared to be already in Syria. “L.A. had actually been actively moving about throughout Toronto, even broadcasting her location up until the 23rd of Nov 2014. At that point she disappears and isn’t seen again until her Android phone starts broadcasting on the 8th of Dec from Ar Raqqah, Syria,” TRAC said. Further observing her Twitter network, TRAC saw L.A. follows and engages with several dozen ISIS fighters and supporters. She had also been vocal about her support for ISIS in several tweet posts, such as “God bless those who live on His path and who die on His path.”
TRAC went on to further examine L.A.’s movements. They saw she has travelled on numerous occasions to virtually “every major city that ISIS controls,” including Ar Raqqah, Dier ez Zur, Mosul, Aleppo and the embattled town of Kobane. On Christmas day, Dec 25, she was seen on the frontline in Kobane. TRAC believed L.A. was there because the ISIS had started to lose fighters and thus need to use women to act as spies for the group. “While on the frontline in Kobane she comments on her interaction with the fighters, ‘I did not see in their actions, anything but the utmost of respect for me as a sister,’” TRAC said, quoting her tweet post.
February. 02. 2015 | International Business Times | News
“We are likely to see the IS sophisticated governance structures at work, implementing control and enforcement of its extremist ideology,” Jasmine Opperman, an analyst at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, said. “Recent reports, that remain unverified, on the execution of those opposing ISIS will increase, with the IS continuing to show low tolerance not only to opposing groups in Iraq and Syria but also those within the IS.”
“I did not see in their actions anything but the utmost of respect for me as a sister,” she wrote in Arabic from Kobani on December 25. In another tweet, she wrote: “God bless those who live on His path and who die on His path.”
“It is possible that with the severe losses ISIS was experiencing they needed the ability to gather intelligence using women, and thus allowed L.A. to penetrate into Kobane,” the TRAC report speculates.
Click to Image play video
February. 02. 2015 | Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC)| Think Tank
RIAC team has asked Jasmine Opperman, director of African Operations of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) to share her opinion.
How can you account for the nature of Charlie Hebdo attacks? Was this an act of terrorism prepared by a foreign terrorist organization or "local" "homegrown" terrorists?
A distinction is needed between influence and actual planning and execution. That there has been ideological influence from AQAP and the ISIS on the Kouachi brothers as well as Coulibaly, however, this is where their direct involvement with the incidents ends. The actual planning and execution of the attacks were done between the brothers and Coulibaly, also admitted by Coulibaly. In a video Amedy Coulibaly said that he worked in coordination with Said and Cherif Kouachi, the "brothers from our team," who carried out the massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on the 7th of January,2015.
Some experts who examined the video, however, said it may have been filmed in an indoor studio with a false backdrop. "There's a chink in the armour," said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
Segundo um artigo publicado esta sexta-feira pelo Consórcio de Análise e Investigação em Terrorismo (TRAC, na sigla em inglês), uma das fontes mais confiáveis em matérias relacionadas com o EI, é o primeiro caso documentado de uma mulher que se movimenta na frente de batalha do grupo terrorista. A identidade foi mantida em segredo para não interferir com as investigações.
JANUARY. 30. 2015 | The Associated Press (AP) | NEWS
"There's a chink in the armor," said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
"The Islamic State's media arm is a full-fledged wing of their government... the United States doesn't even put as much effort into their media wing as the Islamic State does. There's been something messing up in their video production machine," she said.
The results were to be published today by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) in an article that notes that the woman — identified only as “L.A.” — had enjoyed remarkable access, visiting virtually every major centre controlled by ISIS.
“One of the speculations is she’s either shacked up with or is kind of being escorted by somebody that would be relatively high up in ISIS, just for the amount of travel and the types of areas that she’s getting to,” said Mr. Weyers, who co-wrote the article and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Liverpool.
Un groupe canadien de surveillance du terrorisme, le Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a suivi ses déplacements au fil de ses entrées sur le réseau social, dont elle avait négligé de désactiver l’outil de géolocalisation.
Son périple l’a amenée de Toronto à Racca, un bastion de l’État islamique (EI) en Syrie, où elle a écrit un premier tweet le 8 décembre. Elle se serait ensuite rendue sur la ligne de front, à Kobané, puis chez l’ennemi.
But the ransom video itself could give clues to the location of ISIS. Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, said the video shows light from two different directions, indicating that it was taken in a studio with electric lighting, as opposed to outside in the sun.
“The hostages are visibly bothered by” the bright light, she said.
Khan adds that the jumpsuit from one of the hostages appeared to flutter in the breeze, but on closer inspection, it appears to have been from a fan. The video’s sound also lacks the interference that would have been expected from an open desert.
Experts believe the video could give clues to the location of ISIS and the constraints now placed on the militant group.
JANUARY. 23. 2015 | The Associated Press (AP) | NEWS
Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, said that the light source on the men in the latest videos appears to be coming from two different directions — as opposed to one bright sun. If the video was made outdoors in natural light, the shadows behind them should be going in one direction. Instead, they converge.
"The hostages are visibly bothered by" the bright light, she said.
One of the hostage's jumpsuits flutters in a breeze, yet Khan said she believes it's from a fan. Wind in the desert would be noisy and affect the sound quality of the statements being made by the knife-wielding man, she said. It would also kick up dust, and none seems apparent, she said.
If it was actually done inside, it could indicate the hostage-holders are less free to move about than the Islamic state group would have its enemies believe. It could also be a way for the hostage-takers to further cover their tracks and not give experts any reliable signals to indicate where they are.
There's also, however, a more significant message. By digitally altering screenshots from the video, Japanese Twitter users end up drawing attention to the theory that the Islamic State digitally altered the video themselves. Veryan Khan, director of Beacham Publishing's TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium), told Reuters on Wednesday that "inconsistent shadows" and unusual wind movements suggested that the video had been heavily manipulated, and was likely filmed indoors in front of a green screen. Similar claims have been made about previous videos from the group.
Nach Angaben des Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) wird Abubakar Shekau von örtlichen Quellen einmal als "religiöser Intellektueller", dann wieder als "Gangster", vor allem aber als "mad leader" und perverser Gewalttäter beschrieben. Es kursiert in Nigeria auch die Information, Shekau sei in den 90er-Jahren in der psychiatrischen Anstalt von Maiduguri in Behandlung gewesen. Ein lokaler Journalist namens Ahmed Salkida, der direkten Kontakt zu Boko Haram haben soll, berichtet, Shekau sei hochintelligent, eher schweigsam und verfüge über ein fotografisches Gedächtnis. Als sein Vorgänger und Boko-Haram-Sektengründer Muhammad Yusuf getötet wurde, heiratete Shekau - nach Informationen von BBC - eine von dessen vier Frauen und adoptierte die Kinder. Damit stellte er sich in eine dynastische Tradition und dokumentierte den Führungsanspruch innerhalb von Boko Haram.
After all, the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, who has a $7 million bounty on his head, was seen last week in a video praising the jihadists who killed 17 people in the Paris attacks. The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium has described Shekau as a "religious intellectual, yet also a gangster and vigilante as well as a mad leader."
JANUARY. 17. 2015 | International Business Times | NEWS
“This is a serious problem and is seen in the fact that we have to rely on satellite imagery to get some idea on the Boko Haram Baga attack,” said Jas Opperman, South Africa-based analyst at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, or TRAC. “Also, the lack of cell phone and social media communication means that we have to rely on media reports and eyewitness accounts -- all of which are totally subjective,” Opperman said.
New data from the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) has revealed that ISIS is putting governing structures in place to rule the territories the group conquers once the dust settles on the battlefield.
“The French misunderstand their bargain with the devil,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director at Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC). “They pay ransoms and expect return of hostages — not more kidnappings."
January. 05. 2015 | International Business Times | News
According to Jasmine Opperman, a South Africa-based analyst [formerly] at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), “The IS will use any tactic to ensure that their ideology is imposed and adhered to -- the brutality is likely to see a more internal focus with those opposing the IS.”
December. 28. 2014 | International Business Times | News
2015 is the year where we are going to see the IS as a government more than a terrorist organization,” said Jasmine Opperman, a South Africa-based analyst [formerly] at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, or TRAC, a unit of the Beacham Group LLC headquartered in Nokomis, Florida. But the Islamic State group will not abandon the beheadings and massacres that are synonymous with it..... “Though with the face of governance,” Opperman said, “we are to see extreme brutality to those opposing it.” “Wilayats [provinces of the caliphate] now are starting to have their own media campaigns ... with a local focus to show the IS delivering a ‘better way of life,’” TRAC’s Opperman said..... Yet fighting the Islamic State just on the battlefield will not defeat it, Opperman said: “The IS has taken the jihadist battle into the specter of governance. and the question is how to counter the IS at both the military and governance levels.” It would be a mistake, she said, to place an “overemphasis on military combat.”
The three rebel groups that just joined ISIS have been at odds with al-Nusra Front and have switched their allegiance to what it believes is the future of Islam. Two of the groups are small in number, but Al-Yarmuk Martyrs Brigade has hundreds of fighters. “More recent reports indicated a closer alliance with [the Islamic State] due to tensions with JN [al-Nusra Front],” said Jasmine Opperman, a researcher at Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC). She said al-Nusra attacked the headquarters of the Yarmouk Brigade in southern Syria in early December 2014 following clashes between the two groups.
Released in full today, the extraordinary new research was jointly carried out TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) and UK-based counter-extremism think tank Quilliam.
The experts revealed that the sickening murder video would have had to have been extensively and professionally planned by directors, producers, professional editors and cameramen, and was by no means the work of amateurs.
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, the group is made up of the Green Brigade, Jaish al-Muhajrin, Sham al-Islam and Harakat Fajr al-Sham, which includes both local and foreign fighters.
December. 17. 2014 | فيريان خان تقدم تحليلاً تقنياً لصور وفيديوهات داعش | News
Charlie Winter, a researcher at Quilliam, told The Telegraph: "We have had a senior face and neck surgeon independently look at some of the screenshots we took. His initial assessment was that a contusion (a bruise) above Mr Kassig's left eye was a gunshot wound. Closer analysis of the wound reinforced that initial assessment, leading him to believe that the wound was probably the cause of death, rather than beheading." Mr Winter added that a forensic digital analyst had also examined the footage of Mr Kassig's head, and concluded that the way the neck had been severed appeared to be "too clean to be from a straightforward beheading". The digital analyst had also detected what he believed were discrepancies in the footage itself, suggesting it had been edited to make it appear as if Jihadi John was standing in the desert with Mr Kassig's head at his feet. In particular, the shadows cast by the sun do not appear consistent. "The analyst categorically believes that the shadows were added, and added poorly," Mr Winter said. The footage showing Mr Kassig's death comes as a separate segment of a longer propaganda video which shows a mass execution of Syrian army officers by Isil fighters. All are unmasked except for Jihadi John.
Research on the video already released by Quilliam and TRAC suggests that he may have had a body double in sections of the footage.
"Todo lo que podemos decir es que es el único mexicano enrolado en el Estado Islámico o al menos el único cuyo rastro hemos podido seguir", señala a este diario Veryan Khan, directora editorial de TRAC (Consorcio de análisis e investigación en terrorismo, por sus siglas en inglés). Su organización es una de las mejores fuentes para desentrañar el complejo entramado que ha construido el Estado Islámico (IS) a caballo de Siria e Irak.
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee markup, Ran Paul, a potential 2106 presidential candidate, offered an amendment setting geographic limits to an Authorization for Use of Military Force cleared by the committee that would set parameters on the nation’s fight against the terror group known as Islamic State, ISIS, or ISIL. Paul was also critical of the AUMF applying to “associated forces.” Paul cited a group called Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium that lists 60 jihadist groups that are allied with ISIS in 30 different countries.
Analysts at the U.S.-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) and the U.K.-based Quilliam Foundation discovered lighting and shadows which reveal that the video was shot in multiple takes over a period of several hours. The line-up order of the killers and prisoners is switched and in certain frames fighters chat with one another as if idly passing time between takes.
Virtually all the killers — of varying ethnicities and nationalities — are unmasked and potentially identifiable, although only one has been identified: Maxime Hauchard, a convert to Islam from France. The killers are led by the figure known as “Jihadi John,” the masked British militant believed to be responsible for the beheadings of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Alan Henning, Peter Kassig and two unidentified Syrian soldiers.
Veryan Khan, a researcher with TRAC has been analysing the video frame-by-frame. She says the video would have had a director, producer and editor who may even have used storyboards like conventional film-makers. The video was likely produced using Avid Technology, a state-of-the-art program which costs at least $200,000.
Khan says the executioners were chosen for their cinematic qualities, their appearance and their martial ability. She points out that the men represent a certain kind of aesthetic; they are rather good-looking, clean and look as if they’ve done this before. The fact that they come from across the world is intended to convey the broad reach of ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate, Khan adds.
The researchers believe the video was aimed at supporters, potential recruits, their enemies and also their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In a statement, the researchers suggested the fighters were probably willing participants because they would “enjoy international infamy, transforming them into social media heroes like ‘Jihadi John’ and rendering them valuable assets for future propaganda. Already countless [ISIS] Twitter supporters are using the executioners’ photos as their avatars.”
The analysts also say the executioners cleaned themselves up between the filming of execution and post-execution scenes, another indication of the work involved in producing the film.
ISIS’s media approach is central to propagating the message that the Islamic State is unstoppable, Khan says. But while the work is professional, the analysts have noticed tell-tale inconsistencies within the footage that hint at the forensic footprint of a specific editor. Tracing this signature will, they hope, eventually lead to the identification of key figures possibly at the highest levels of the ISIS hierarchy – something which may just prove crucial in the fight still ongoing in Iraq and Syria.
Amerikanische und britische Experten haben den 16-minütigen Clip genauer unter die Lupe genommen. Tagelang analysierten Mitarbeiter der US-Organisation TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) und des britischen Thinktank Quilliam einem CNN-Bericht zufolge jedes noch so winzige Detail.
Experts from TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) and UK-based counter-extremism think tank Quilliam believe they have now pinpointed they exact stretch of desert in which the savage murders took place.
They also raise a number of questions about why non-speaking militants are seen wearing microphones, why some militants are filmed at the start of the video but not later, and bring to light new evidence suggesting ISIS' killer-in-chief 'Jihadi John' may have been played by a body double.
According to joint research carried out by TRAC and Quilliam and published by CNN, events leading to ISIS' horrific beheading of 22 Syrian soldiers were filmed over a four to six hour period.
Close analysis of shadows and the direction of sunlight suggests that scenes that appear to have been shot without pause were in fact broken up and filmed over a number of hours.
This is likely to have been in order to re-shoot scenes if, for example, one of the murderers made a mistake in the heavily choreographed sequences captured before the murders actually take place.
TRAC and Quilliam's research has suggested another clue backing up the claims that more than one person may be 'playing' the role of Jihadi John .
In one split-second scene, the experts have identified a second man wearing Jihadi John's distinctive black mask and matching uniform standing in the background of a sequence in which ISIS' executioner in chief is also clearly pictured.
The US-based terrorism research organization TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) and UK-based counter-extremism think tank Quilliam have analyzed the footage frame-by-frame to understand the video's production techniques, the identity of the hostages and their killers, and the visual significance of such calculated brutality.
Here are some of their findings:
The video would have cost at least $200,000 to produce, according to TRAC. Similar to a feature film, the video features multiple takes using HD cameras to create images of a professional quality.
Nearly all the killers appear unmasked and are clearly identifiable. There are 22 ISIS fighters of varying ethnicities and nationalities, all wearing the same camouflage uniforms. They are led by the militant known to the British press as "Jihadi John," the masked fighter with a British accent responsible for the killing of western hostages.
Only one of the killers has been identified: Maxime Hauchard, a Muslim convert from France. Several other countries are now investigating whether any of their citizens are in the video.
Lighting and shadows reveal the video was shot over a 4 to 6 hour period. The video was shot in multiple takes, and contains several inconsistencies. The order of the killers and prisoners in the line-up is switched in several places. In certain frames, fighters are seen chatting with one another, apparently passing time between takes.
Two of the ISIS fighters wear clip-on microphones, but their audio is not recorded. It's possible their recorded messages were either cut out or have been saved for a future release.
Three of the killers are have been edited out of the video, seen only in transitional sequences. This includes a fighter in a balaclava, the only masked militant other than "Jihadi John." TRAC believes the second masked militant may be acting as a body double for "Jihadi John," someone who acts as a decoy in case of an airstrike.
Yet the full extent of how ISIS employed its foreign fighters was not told. Research conducted by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) in Florida has shed some light on ISIS’s most valued asset and the important contribution foreign fighters have made to the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The research examines ISIS’s military units in Iraq and Syria, and explains how thousands of foreign fighters joined the Free Syrian Army to fight against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and shifted loyalty to al-Nusra front, al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, and then to ISIS.
“The IS [Islamic State] successes in Syria and Iraq is not a sole trajectory of the IS as a single force, but present a complex web of alliances with various brigades and foreign fighter groups. These alliances have enabled the IS to not only gain and capture areas, but also wield sustained controlled,” the TRAC research report states, using the acronym IS for ISIS.
“Aligning with ISIS gives other rebel groups access not only to supplies and weapons, but also to the ISIS brand, therefore raising their status and appeal to individuals looking to join the movement. The cachet the Islamic State lends to groups (both hardened fighters and newcomers), is immense. Once a unit folds into the Islamic State, they can be guaranteed support and success in battle,” said Joe Balzano, one of the four TRAC researchers who conducted the research.
“The advancement of the Islamic State was a polarizing force that caused many idealists to switch sides from Nusra to Islamic State. The phenomenon of defection and conversion among foreign fighters, to me, is indicative of the larger over-trend that Nusra, and by extension al-Qaeda core, is softening the hard-line attitudes towards the Islamic State,” said Veryan Khan, another TRAC researcher.
Er trage dem Bericht zufolge eine Sturmhaube. Doch es falle auf, dass die Körpermaße beider Männer erstaunliche Ähnlichkeiten aufweisen. „Es könnte sein, dass es ein Doppelgänger ist oder nur eine Attrappe“, sagte Veryan Khan vom Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) gegenüber dem „Telegraph“. „Ich will nicht sagen, dass ich die Antwort weiß, aber Form und Größe sind sehr ähnlich.“
TRAC hatte das Video eine Woche lang zusammen mit dem britischen Anti-Extremismus Denkfabrik Quilliam untersucht. Ein Quilliam-Sprecher sagte der „Daily Mail“, dass es sich bei dem mysteriösen Mann auch um einen weiteren Terroristen handeln könnte, der die Hinrichtung leitete.
TRAC Editorial Director Veryan Khan told Daily Intellegencer that she believes the Islamic Youth Shura Council could have a huge impact on luring Libya's inland extremists considering the nature of the country's volatile political climate.
No more than two weeks after Jund al-Khilafa publicized its ISIS affiliation, the group beheaded a French man in the name of the Islamic State to avenge for France's participation in U.S.-Coalition airstrikes against ISIS.
"The Caliphate soldiers beheaded on the Islamic State's behalf," Khan said.
Although Lalji said that a more recent Filipino ISIS affiliate, Abu Sayyaf, has received about $1.5 million in ransom payments, a representative from the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium stated that Abu Sayyaf hit the jackpot when they received a $5 million ransom payment for two German hostages they captured.
The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) and the Quilliam Foundation have carried out a joint analysis of the latest IS video, which showed the severed head of American Peter Kassig. eryan Khan, TRAC's editorial director, told Sky News that a masked militant who is roughly the same size and shape as "Jihadi John" is mistakenly included for around a tenth of a second.
Ms Khan told Sky News: "He could be a stand in, a double, he could be a decoy, or he just happens to have the same shape and size." A body double could be used to confuse drones seeking to kill the militant, or to conceal the death or sickness of "Jihadi John", Ms Khan added. However, Ms Khan stressed: "I don't want you to get stuck on the potential relationship between the two masked men of the video.
"It could be a body double or a decoy," said Veryan Khan, editorial director with the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), which looked at the video with Quilliam, the British anti-extremist think-tank. "I'm not trying to say I know the answer, but his shape and size are very similar."
The final section, with Mr. Kassig, is claimed to be filmed in Dabiq, the site of a final existential battle between Islam and its enemies, according to Sunni scriptures, and a village now at the western edge of Isil's control in Syria. Although the background is clearly Dabiq, TRAC says it believes Jihadi John and the head were filmed elsewhere, and superimposed using sophisticated video technology.
Ms Khan said it was clear from study of the shadows in the film that the foreground and background do not match. The background film also appears to be on a loop, and jumps around.
Veryan Khan, editorial director with the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), which looked at the video for British anti-extremist think-tank Quilliam, told the Telegrap: "It could be a body double or a decoy.
"I'm not trying to say I know the answer, but his shape and size are very similar."
Ms. Khan said TRAC’s technicians believed the video had been produced using an editing system called Avid, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. The overall message of the video was to show that the rise of the Caliphate was unstoppable, whatever the West did to try to stop it.
November. 24. 2014 | International Business Times | News
Veryan Khan, the editorial director of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, explained the process to Intelligencer. Support for ISIS among other radical groups, she said, manifests in one or more of three ways. At the most basic level, members of a group can show support for ISIS ideology by sporting the group's flags and logo. Groups that are more committed can pledge loyalty to ISIS, which Khan describes as a symbolic statement that doesn't really confer any type of formal alliance. The most committed make a formal declaration of bay'ah, or allegiance, and become official allies. (Such pledges were historically given to caliphs.) What shape, exactly, these alliances take can vary, in part based on the distance between Baghdadi and central leadership in the group. However, groups "don't have to fall into the top category to be strong supporters," Khan cautioned.
TRAC has identified at least 12 groups outside Iraq and Syria that have made a formal pledge of allegiance to ISIS and Baghdadi. (There may be more who have done so without publicizing such an agreement.) While some of them are large, established groups, others are comparatively new and unknown. In most cases, precise membership numbers are not available.
November. 21. 2014 | International Business Times | News
“They were chosen from among them, from among many, to represent the global appeal of ISIS and to appeal to many more like them,” said Veryan Khan, Editorial Director of TRAC. “All of those foreign fighters would have never come across Baghdadi’s mind,” Khan said. “This was a way for them to get in front of Baghdadi. Baghdadi watched this."
November. 19. 2014 | International Business Times | News
“Praise from both Hamas and Islamic Jihad indicates growing solidarity in opposition to Israel, a solidarity that will use 'people's operations' as [a] preferred tactic. A third intifada is not likely -- as seen in missile and rocket attacks -- but an intifada at street level could be a reality,” said Jasmine Opperman, director of African Operations at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. "For the PFLP, this is the ideal vehicle to reintroduce itself.”
“There is a clear generational divide in the global jihadi movement that has been gaining momentum for at least a year. The younger generation see the Islamic State as pure, effective, and connected (international draw, real-time "sharing"). Where as the older, often established leadership, see the Islamic State as “upstarts," hasty, and especially defiant”, said Veryan Khan, the associate publisher at TRAC. “The IS strategy of creating security vacuums is initiated subtlety. They use local groups to create increased insecurity as well as establishing an alternative form of governance: The Caliphate. Hence, it is the returning foreign fighters, coupled with specific groups that have stated support/allegiance, that not only merely engaged in destabilization but also propagate the Caliphate (as seen in Derna),” said Claire Davis, TRAC research associate specializing in the emergence of the Islamic State.
Recently, renaming at least two areas/towns in Nigeria show this newer tactic of dominance, control and continued presence. In the most recent video we see a Shekau not in military uniform screaming and shouting, but dressed as a Emir talking to a small audience on Islam - for the first time ever, Shekau presents himself as leader that can calmly calling on support. Boko Haram is not merely using IS tactics: Boko Haram is acting like an IS,” said Jasmine Opperman, the director of African operations at TRAC.
Veryan Khan, editorial director of TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, notes that the shadowy terror leader last made an appearance in July — just after other rumors of his death.
"Islamic State’s release of this audio is focusing on momentum that they have recently gained in areas outside of the Sham (Syria), said Khan, who said that ISIS now has pledges of allegiance from terror groups in Egypt, Libya and even Boko Haram in Nigeria — with active ISIS-related "brigades" in various countries.
"As of today, there are at least 30 separate regions that have active militant organizations that have pledged support to Islamic State, a total of 60 distinct groups world wide," said Khan. "The audio is inspirational, whether Baghdadi was wounded or not."
Al-Baghdadi has a Cabinet of advisers as well as two top deputies -- Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, who oversees ISIS' mission in Iraq, and Abu Ali al-Anbari, who is in charge of operations in Syria, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. "The Shura Council has the right to tell Baghdadi to go if he's not adhering to ISIS' religious standards," said Jasmine Opperman of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. "It would most probably never happen, but the fact that it's possible indicates the council's prominence."
Como ella, nacida y crecida en una nación europea, hay otras que han partido de los aeropuertos occidentales para unirse al Estado Islámico (EI) desde que este recrudeció su ofensiva en Iraq y Siria. Según el Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC, un compendio electrónico de datos e investigaciones sobre terrorismo, con el que colaboran más de 2000 expertos), las extranjeras reclutadas por la organización terrorista son unas 200, de 14 países, con lo que constituyen el 15 por ciento de los reclutamientos en el exterior.
The Al-Khansaa Brigade — which the militant group announced earlier this year, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium — is exclusively made up of women 18 to 25 whose primary role is to search female residents of the town for weapons and make sure they dress and behave according to Sharia law.
"El modo en el que han sido capaces de mantener ciudades como Mosul mientras siguen cosechando avances es una prueba de que su sistema de gobierno tiene que estar funcionando", declara a EL MUNDO Veryan Khan, directora editorial de TRAC (Consorcio de análisis e investigación en terrorismo, por sus siglas en inglés), el instituto que acaba de desvelar el complejo entramado que ha convertido al Estado Islámico en la organización yihadista más poderosa, sin parangón en la historia reciente.
“Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula recently expressed support for fighters in Iraq and Syria against attacks by the U.S.-led coalition,” says Jasmine Opperman, a researcher at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium in Florida. “Of greater significance is that AQAP also called for unity as to enable a united front and in the statement referred to IS fighters as ‘brothers.’ This statement tells us that cooperation in Yemen against a common enemy is already at play and to include the U.S. coalition attacks in the statement is the ideal opportunity to call for unity that will justify cooperation within Yemen.”
“Note the announcement was made by the Nigerian government and there has been no response to date by Boko Haram, which begs the question if such negotiations were held with Boko Haram, why would they allow the Nigerian Government to get the spotlight. This is contradicting the Shekau we know, a person that uses every opportunity to gain media attention,” said Jasmine Opperman, Africa Director at the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, the Al-Khansaa brigade were initially formed in February this year with “with the purpose of exposing male activists who disguise in women’s clothing to avoid detention when stopping at the ISIL checkpoints.”
October. 20. 2014 | Bill Press Radio Talk Show | News
TRAC's editorial director Veryan Khan speaks on Islamic State Recruitment tactics. Begins at minute mark 2:40:20
October. 17. 2014 | Al Arabia | News
Tunisia wary of terrorist threat ahead of elections
The Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade, according to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium is affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib (AQIM) and uses the same torture and mutilation tactics of those AQIM in Algeria.
Das „Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium“ (TRAC) listet eine dschihadistische Cyber-Organisation mit dem Namen „Tariq Ibn Ziyad Brigade“, die 2010 Regierungs- und Behördennetzwerke in den USA angriff.
Cameroon is just one of the countries that Boko Haram operates in – according to the TRAC (Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium) the militant group based in Nigeria is also present in Chad and Niger.
October. 07. 2014 | Institute for Security Studies - ISS Africa | News
So far, the Islamic State’s leader has not given formal recognition to any single group. ‘This might have to change,’ says Jasmine Opperman, Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. ‘Baghdadi will have to respond with some kind of acknowledgement, or he will appear out of control… Baghdadi’s Caliphate wants to create the façade of a worldwide Caliphate. To have the international division [in the areas outside Iraq and Syria] going around beheading seemingly at random, gives the opposite impression.’
The IS “are not focused on merely supporting themselves with ransom activities and oil theft, they know that in order to survive they have to generate income in legitimate ways,” Veryan Khan, director of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, a US-based terrorism monitoring group, told the Sunday Times.
Veryan Khan, director of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, a US-based terrorism monitoring group, said the document provided an insight into the group’s thinking. “I am convinced this was passed out among senior personnel of Islamic State. To fully explain a 100-year plan is completely unique — they are proving that they are visionaries to the rest of the senior staff.”
Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium study of different videos released by Boko Haram has found significant inconsistencies in "Shekau". "The cadence of each speaker varies dramatically and each speaker opens his mouth very differently."
Stranger still, analysts believe that there may be more than one person posing as "Abubakar Shekau." In one analysis, the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium looked at different videos released by Boko Haram and found significant inconsistencies in "Shekau."
White said they originally emerged in 2006 and according to Terrorist Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), it “evolved in one of the main jihadist groups fighting government forces in Syria and Iraq.”
Indeed, Shekaus in some videos aren't consistent with other Shekaus. In some videos, according to Tracking Terrorism, Shekau speaks in different cadences and has varying mannerisms. "In some cases he appears much heavier or much darker in skin color, and the posturing is very different between each man," wrote the TRAC (Terrorism Research and Analytics Consortium) think-tank that publishes Tracking Terrorism. Each time he comes back from the dead, Tracking Terrorism said, Shekau's megalomania grows. "Shekau is a leader who is overflowing with confidence," one article stated. "His reported death on two occasions, in 2010 and 2013 by the Nigerian military, only to resurface, reaffirmed his belief that he is protected by Allah and that no one can touch him."
“Boston attracts a certain subset of people that are often bright and some of them are disenfranchised,” said Veryan Khan, who heads the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) an anti-terrorism research group.
Informationen des renommierten name="_art_link_">US-Instituts Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (Trac) zufolge ist der IS von einer reinen Kampftruppe zu einer regelrechten Regierungsmacht in den von ihm eroberten Gebieten übergegangen.
Trac-Analystin Jasmine Opperman sagte dem US-Nachrichtensender CNN: "Der IS betrachtet das Kalifat als einen Staat, doch es gibt zwei Regierungen." Im Grunde seien es "zwei Seiten der Medaille", sagt Opperman. "Wir haben die militärische Seite gesehen mit einem Kriegskabinett, das Brigaden und Kampfeinheiten dirigiert. Aber nun sehen wir auf der anderen Seite einen islamischen Staat, der regieren will. Beide Prozesse brauchen und beflügeln einander. Die militärischen Entscheidungen sind eng verwoben mit den politischen."
Prema mišljenju Jasmine Opperman, direktorice južnoafričkog odjela analitičke tvrtke TRAC, IS je najvjerojatnije podijeljen na sirijsku i iračku podružnicu jer to olakšava upravljanje. - IS vidi kalifat kao jednu državu, no postoje dvije vlade. Ta je podjela administrativna. IS ne želi rušiti jedinstvo kalifata, no kako bi olakšali vladanje, bili su prisiljeni napraviti podjelu između Sirije i Iraka - smatra Opperman.
Konsorsium Analisis dan Riset Terorisme (TRAC) dokumen diperoleh dari rumah Abu Abdul Rahman al-Bilawi, kepala staf militer ISIS di Irak. Al Bilawi tewas dalam serangan militer. Jasmine Opperman, direktur TRAC Afrika Selatan, mengatakan Dewan Syura juga mengontrol khalifah. Namun itu mungkin tidak pernah terjadi karena khalifah mengangkat Dewan Syura.
September. 18. 2014 | CNN International (Print) | News
New data from the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium(TRAC) has revealed that ISIS is putting governing structures in place to rule the territories the group conquers once the dust settles on the battlefield. The research shows how ISIS has gone from being a purely military force to building a system that can provide basic services, such as making sure that gas and food are available, to its new citizens.
Non è certo la prima volta che le donne vengono reclutate per la 'guerra santa'. La stessa al-Qaeda, da cui deriva l'Is, può contare da anni su un plotone di donne kamikaze pronte al martirio. Ma è la prima volta che si assiste a un tale arruolamento di massa. "La 'mujahidat' (il corrispettivo femminile di 'mujahidin', ndr) classica ha un ruolo di supporto - come moglie o madre che esegue i lavori domestici - per il jihadista. Modello casalinga anni '50", spiega Veryan Khan, analista del Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (Trac).
While there are no concrete figures on the number of foreign women in ISIS, the Florida-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium believes the number is about 200, or 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the 2,000 or more foreign fighters in ISIS, which has overrun vast territories in Iraq and Syria. The consortium's editorial director Veryan Khan says the women, usually aged between 20 and 30, fall into two categories. Those in the first group are married with children, and leave for Syria with their husbands or to join them. Those in the second group are aged between 16 and 20, and they go to Syria to marry ISIS militants.
Meanwhile US analysts at the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium claims that al-Khansaa’s members are all single and dress in traditional black Islamic robes. Enforcers are paid a monthly salary of £100.
September. 11. 2014 | Malaysia Chronicle | News
UK Women Jihadist Running Islamic State's Brutal Police Force that Punishes Females for UnIslamic Behavior
According to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, a US-based monitoring group, al-Khansaa’s members are all single and dress in black robes. Brigade members are paid a monthly salary of £100. (Story formerly available at: malaysia-chronicle.com/?option=com_k2&view=item&id=355271%3Auk-women-jihadists-running-islamic-states-brutal-police-force-that-punishes-females-for-un-islamic-behaviour)
Meanwhile, according to reports, up to 60 women are believed to have joined the al-Khansaa brigade, an all-women’s branch of the Islamic State, which is believed to be based in the Syrian city of Raqqa.US-based think tank Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium says the group has been set up to expose people suspected of spying on IS by disguising themselves in women’s clothing, the Telegraph reported.
The video, posted online by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), features both a speech from the girl and other children at a training camp. It is the terrorist group's latest propaganda video featuring children.
As per the TRAC, it said the group was set up to expose people suspected of spying on ISIL by disguising themselves in women’s clothing. Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) is a US based think tank. Most of the women in the Al-Khansaa brigade are between 18-24 years. Some of them are supposed to join the main military ranks of the ISIL terrorists.
September. 10. 2014 | CNN International (Print) | News
The classic 'mujahadiyah' is in a supportive role -- as a wife, mother, doing the house tasks for her jihadi male," says Veryan Khan of TRAC. "They have same goals and ambitions as the men once they get there. Now granted, their roles may be much more limited to a 1950's housewife role."
September. 10. 2014 | CNN International (Television) | News
A Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) report said the women in al-Khansaa are paid a monthly salary equivalent to NIS 593. TRAC said the group was also formed to expose men who dress up as women in order to avoid imprisonment.
Up to 60 women are believed to have joined the Al-Khansaa brigade, an all-women’s branch of ISIL, which is believed to be based in the Syrian city of Raqqa. The claims were made following research conducted by the US based think tank Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC). TRAC says the group was set up to expose people suspected of spying on ISIL by disguising themselves in women’s clothing.
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), the militia group was established earlier this year to help expose male activists who attempt to disguise themselves in women’s clothing to avoid detention. The brigade's women are reportedly paid a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian Pounds (roughly £100), says TRAC, for duties that are not involved with acts of terror – instead insurgency operations.
The claims were made following research conducted by the US based think tank Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC). TRAC says the group was set up to expose people suspected of spying on ISIS by disguising themselves in women’s clothing.
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), the militia group was established earlier this year to help expose male activists who attempt to disguise themselves in women's clothing to avoid detention.
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a U.S.-based monitoring group, Al-Khanssaa was set up by ISIS commanders in February. Its members are all single women, who dress in black robes and wear a face veil. Brigade members are paid a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian pounds – about $175.
August. 29. 2014 | The Bill Press Show | Raido News
Come spiega a Lettera43.it Veryan Khan del Trac, il Consorzio di ricerca e analisi sul terrorismo con sede negli Usa, potrebbe trattarsi solo di «ragazzini», ma nei loro attacchi si rifanno ai jihadisti: «Interessante notare l’uso che fanno di termini come 'Kafir' (letteralmente «infedele», ndr) e il riferimento allo Stato islamico (Is). Da valutare anche il modo in cui stanno usando Sony», è la tesi dell'esperta. Se, come dice Khan si trattasse di «usare la tattica del piggybacking (in pratica la trasmissione di un messaggio attraverso un altro messaggio, ndr)» sfruttando l’interesse mediatico per l'Is per attirare l’attenzione sulle proprie gesta non ci sarebbe troppo da preoccuparsi.
In the footsteps of al Qaeda, Ansar al Sharia courts, in view of an alliance: according to a survey of Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), the jihadists of Iraq and Syria have already sent their origins Libyan fighters , reinforced, in defense of the Emirate of Benghazi.
“Countering Boko Haram will rely on international and regional support,” said Jasmine Opperman, Africa Director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. “Especially taking into consideration the weaknesses of Nigerian security forces in these areas, which includes insufficient deployments, soldiers’ dissatisfaction with inferior weapons, and soldiers refusing to be deployed. This again indicates a lack of effective leadership and resource distribution.”
Secondo Veryan Khan, direttrice editoriale del Trac, il Consorzio di ricerca e analisi sul terrorismo con sede negli Usa, i «rischi sono altissimi». E l'Italia è un «bersaglio più facile rispetto a Regno Unito, Germania e Francia».
“Boko Haram attacks suggest a clear strategy to isolate Maiduguri and it can be expected that the incidents will move to the northern parts of Borno state to further isolate the town and gain control,” said Jasmine Opperman, Africa director for the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. “Remember, this is where Boko Haram originates from.”
Opperman notes a couple of other changes to the group’s standard tactics in recent months. One is the use, for the first time, of conventional warfare on the battlefield in the attack on the town of Damboa. Here, according to observers, Boko Haram deployed a regiment’s worth of fighters against the Nigerian security forces, with the requisite command and control ability. Another is its close collaboration with other Islamist groups operating in the area, notably Ansaru and Harakatul-Muhajiriin, which suggests a concerted effort to unify the Islamist movement against the government.
Analitičari iz područja terorizma koji su okupljeni oko organizacije 'Terrorism Research and analysis consurtium' (TRAC) smataju da je iz BiH u Siriju otišlo oko 300 islamista, svi su se spremni žrtvovati kao pripadnici radikalne islamističke organizacije. Koliko se bosanskohercegovačkih islamista vratilo sa sirijskog ratišta, a koliko ih se priklučilo zloglasnim silama ISIL-a koji svoj kalifat šire na Irak, podatak je kojeg obavještajne službe u BiH još nemaju. Prema posljednjim informacijama, na ratište u Siriju otišlo je više od 140 državljana, ali smatra se da je ta brojka još i veća.
Sarajevo - L'ultime informazioni quasi ufficiali rivelano che 140 cittadini della Bosnia e Erzegovina sono andati a combattere in Siria, però è dato presumere che il numero sia molto più alto di questa cifra. Gli analisti della zona del terrorismo i quali sono raccolti intorno all'organizzazione "Terrorism Research, and analysis consurtium" (TRAC) valutano...
August. 12. 2014 | Institute for Security Studies (ISS) | News
Reprinted August. 13. 2014 by All Africa, The Daily Maverick and Defence Web
Research from the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) indicates that the Islamic State returned the favour, actually sending fighters of Libyan origin – now trained and battle hardened – to assist Ansar al-Sharia in taking Benghazi. It was shortly after this decision was reached, on 22 July 2014, that the fighting in Benghazi intensified.
‘Ansar al-Sharia in Libya is an important ally for the Islamic State in expanding its presence and influence into Maghreb countries,’ said Jasmine Opperman, a TRAC director. ‘Such an alliance will allow the Islamic State to influence and direct the establishment of a smaller Islamic caliphate in Libya as a first step in expanding it into the Maghreb.’
August. 05. 2014 | Blue Force Tracker | News
Forget nukes — Propaganda and shame are terrorists' WMDs of choice
“Terrorism is about exposing your cause in the public sphere," said Veryan Khan, executive editor of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC). “And terrorists are looking for an overhanded, heavy reaction from their opponents. That wins support for their cause. And if the public can see that on television, all the better.” (Story formerly available at: blueforcetracker.com/article/R8jfHH0HuR)
According to www.trackingterrorism.org, AQIM absorbed the AST group in January 2014. The Washington Institute confirms that AQIM at least “has tried to insert itself into AST’s relationship with the Tunisian state.”
July. 21. 2014 | The Sunday Leader Sri Lanka | News
Australian Tamil Congress (ATC), LTTE’s premier front in Australia, was designated as a terrorist entity under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373. The ATC is also listed as a terrorist organisation by the Terrorist Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
Veryan Khan, editorial director of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), told Al Jazeera that there are already some 500 fighters from the Asia Pacific region in the Middle East. Studying the tactics used by the new generation of armed fighters, TRAC security expert Veryan Khan said that they are trying to "consolidate" their support using social media. In its latest report published on July 16, the TRAC research organisation concluded that the Islamic State group "seems to have won the vote of the young jihadists, the generation that will determine the future of jihadist terrorist organisations".
The Australian cleric "relies on his effective use of social media networks to propagate support for a world-wide jihad against the West and encourage Muslims to join the ISIS in Syria and Iraq," according to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, or TRAC. He is considered to be a popular figure in jihadist circles. "A study conducted during early 2014 by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation concluded that one in four foreign fighters followed Cerantonio's Twitter account and that his Facebook page was the third-most 'liked' page among jihadists," TRAC continued.
July. 02. 2014 | Colombo Page | News
Sri Lanka Criminal Investigations Department questions extremist Buddhist monk on his hate speech
The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), which has been identified as a terrorist organization by Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), is accused of instigating the inter-communal violence between the Muslims and Sinhalese Buddhists in Aluthgama and Beruwala earlier this month.
According to the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium think tank, Cerantonio once said: ‘I do not doubt that I have called upon all believers, whether young or old, to respond to the commands of God.’
“Burma’s Buddhist bin Laden” BBS’s Gnanasara does have ties with Wirathu Thera. According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), he traveled to Myanmar this March to meet with him. According to TRAC increasing conflict between Buddhist Sinhala (who account for about 75 percent of the population) and Hindu Tamil identity manifested in “a civil war in the 1980s, which reinforced a Sri Lanka in which Buddhist ethnic and religious identity is constantly under threat and hence require[s] protection at all costs.” BBS has less of a reputation for targeting Hindus, but other Buddhist monks have, according to TRAC, attacked Hindu temples as well as Christian churches and Muslim mosques as far back as 2009. TRAC quotes Gnanasara as saying, “We want to stop this extremist work of Muslims. They are not going to destroy our culture.” Somewhat confusingly and contradictorily, he ended that tirade with the assertion: “Buddhist people are very peaceful.” For TRAC, the fact that BBS has given an organized and structured forum, “where extremist Buddhist[s] can find a home and a channel to vent anger and mistrust with other ethnic and religious Sri Lankan communities” makes it a dangerous manifestation of longstanding tensions.
“Irrespective fears of a likely ISIS threat, Saudi Arabia shows little interest in supporting the Maliki government,” said Veryan Khan, with the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium. “King Abdullah has repeatedly refused to meet with Maliki, as he views the Iraqi president as a puppet in the hands of Iran and Hezbollah.” “There were leaflets passed out in Riyadh (on car doors and windshields) promoting ISIS last month,” added Khan. “The leaflets warned against Muslims with 'fake beards' but are really the enemy,” said Khan. “ISIS sees the House of Saud as corrupt who promotes Islamic rule at home but have close ties to the U.S."
Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, said: "The fact that ISIS controls entry points on the Syrian border certainly makes it easier for them to transport heavy artillery flown into Syria from Iran. "Since the Iraqis already have sophisticated U.S. war equipment, the game changer, minus U.S./Western intervention, will be whether the 300 U.S. advisers can find the Iraqi military personnel trained to use it. With the help of U.S. advisers, the Iraqis could take out the columns of ISIS convoys, but that needs to happen before ISIS becomes better armed," she said.
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (https://trackingterrorism.org/group/islamic-state-iraq-islamic-state-iraq-and-sham-isis), the network’s objective is to establish a worldwide Caliphate, reflected in frequent media reports by means of images of the world united under an ISIL banner. Although it has perpetrated many terrorist acts since its formation in 2006, particularly against Shi’ite and Christian civilians, ISIL has been especially active in late 2012 and 2013, claiming responsibility for killing and wounding hundreds of people through suicide bombings.
June. 18. 2014 | Colombo Page | News
Signs of split in Sri Lanka's hardline Buddhist movement
A considerable number of Buddhist monks who were earlier with the BBS do not play active roles in the organization as the organization has turned violent is deviating from its "founding" principles, according to the Asian Mirror. The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) a research and link aggregator owned by the Beacham group, classified Bodu Bala Sena as a 'terrorist organization' in April 2014.
June. 17. 2014 | Digital Journal | News
Buddhist terrorists incite mob against Sri Lankan Muslims
The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) is translated as “Buddhist Power Force” and terrorism experts give weight to Hakeem’s claim of government support. The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium states in its fact sheet about the BBS.
Then there was the US-based terrorist-tracking think-tank that saw what happened in the Iraqi city of Mosul last week as "the world's most violent and valuable bank heist". ISIS certainly appears to have the resources to hold its own for now, helped in part by the massive quantities of military hardware seized in Mosul and what a US think-tank, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), called "the world's most violent and valuable bank heist." With Iraqi troops abandoning their posts in Mosul, Isis was able to secure helicopters, armoured vehicles and an untold amount of arms and ammunition. But Isis also pillaged banks in the city, making off with a potential $3.5bn, says TRAC, which would make the Islamist rebels one of the richest terrorist groups ever seen.
Then this week, it released an Italian priest and a Canadian nun “as part of a prisoner exchange with a fee being paid,” an anonymous source told Agence France-Presse. (Canada disputed that allegation.) According to Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, bank robberies also account for $6 million of the group’s wealth.
May. 19. 2014 | al Jazeera America | Primetime News | Live Television
The Challenges Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Niger and Cameroon Have on Winning the War on Boko Haram
Live Interview with TRAC's Editorial Director, Veryan Khan, on ECOWAS latest efforts in challenging Boko Haram. What problems currently exist within the coalition and how they will overcome these problems to battle Boko Haram.
According to TRAC, the terrorism research and analysis consortium, the group has a wide variety of outlets for its fundraising activity. ‘Its success in sustaining attacks depends on a well-oiled financial pipeline. Like many other Al Qaida franchises, Boko Haram collaborates with organised crime syndicates for its operations in drug trafficking, kidnappings, bank robbery, and cyber scams, not to mention continuous thefts from Nigeria’s security establishment. In addition, Boko Haram raids rural towns and villages; by terrorising civilians, they can implement random taxes at anytime to quickly fill depleted coffers. During 2014, Boko Haram raided over 40 villages with an estimated 2,000 casualties; many of the villages were burned to the ground.
May. 12. 2014 | CBC News | Carole MacNeal Show | Live Television
Boko Haram Leadership, Financing, and Expansion
Live Interview with TRAC's Editorial Director, Veryan Khan, on Shekau's history and rise within Boko Haram as well as Boko Haram's extensive financing operations coupled with its expansion efforts beyond Nigeria's borders.
Terrorism analyst and Executive Director of Terrorism Research and Analysis Concortium (TRAC), Veryan Khan, who has studied in depth the terrorist group offers interesting answers the scams on dating sites. "It could be the funds flowing through the dating site Match.com by the U.S. women and credit card fraud," she said.
But Veryan isn’t hopeful Jonathan will seek anything more than monetary assistance. “He usually only asks for help from nations that he knows will not try to have input/influence over what he does,” Veryan wrote in an email to NBC News.
“Jonathan has to show that he is actively doing something” because of the protests and the upcoming World Economic Forum, set to take place in Nigeria’s capital on Wednesday, said Veryan Khan, who has studied the group in depth as executive director of the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
Terror analyst Veryan Khan, who has studied the group in depth as executive director of TRAC, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, offered an interesting source: "Romance scams" on dating sites. "Reportedly on Match.com with U.S. women," she told NBC News. "Plus credit card scams, again, with unsuspecting U.S. victims but generating within Nigeria."
To cover the heaping religious and racial extremism and from the disaster of the country and the people is heading, the authoritarian Rajapaksa regime has sponsored and created an external force by the name of Bodu Bala Sena has now proscribed as a terrorist organization by the Terrorist Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC).
The Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a respected American based research organization has listed the BBS as a "terrorist" organization. A few months ago, in an issue of Time magazine (print edition banned in Sri Lanka) but online editions widely available, the "face of Buddhist terror" was the cover article, featuring the anti Muslim hate campaigners in Myanmar.
April. 22. 2014 | The Blaze | News
British Islamist Rebel Shows Off His Filthy Living Conditions in Syria, Says It’s Still Better Than Living in the West
The latest Syria video was posted online by “Rayat Al-Tawheed” (Banner of God) which the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium calls “a mouthpiece for British fighters from London that are fighting in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) in Syria.”
Last week, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium uploaded a video to YouTube showing an unnervingly large AQAP gathering in Yemen, where leaders emphasized that action should be taken against America. Washington hasn't commented on whether it participated in the weekend strike.
The April 9 incident marks the turning point. On the international front, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) USA listed the Bodu Bala as a ‘radical Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organisation… that engages on hate speech and attacks against minority religions. The TRAC should update its classification to include the fact that the Bodu Bala Sena is not averse to attacking Buddhist monks too if they happen to hold an opinion different to its.
Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a vociferous organisation, received opposition of a serious nature when a group named Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) labeled it a terrorist outfit. Till then it was freely going on the rampage supporting its actions with the claim that its task is to protect Buddhism, nurture it and preserve it for the next generation.
The video was brought to light by terrorist watchdog group Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) and had been circulating on jihadist websites.
April. 18. 2014 | Ceylon Today | News
TRAC responds to BBS
TRAC Editorial Director, Veryan Khan told Ceylon Today the organization had assessed the BBS statements and the extreme levels of religious intolerance evident in several videos. She said TRAC had analyzed BBS members' actions of involving in acts of violence against churches, mosques and shops selling Halal food. Those were sufficient indicators for profiling the BBS, Khan said. (Story formerly available at: ceylontoday.lk/51-61875-news-detail-trac-responds-to-bbs.html)
Labelled as a ‘Religious and Cult Terrorist Group’, the BBS has joined Al Qaeda, Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) and Hamas on the United State’s list of terrorists. In its report on the BBS, the consortium states that “the BBS engages in hate speech and attacks against minority religions. It has organised various campaigns against the country’s minority Muslim and Christian communities which, according to the organisation, poses a threat to Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese-Buddhist identity,” adds TRAC.
In the video, al-Wuhayshi makes reference to other prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Saudi Arabia and Israel, according to Veryan Khan, Editorial Director of TRAC. And at one point al-Wuhayshi says, "The journey of jihad continues ... We must bring down our enemies, we must eliminate the cross, and the bearer of the cross is America," according to Khan.
April. 16. 2014 | International Business Times | News
The 15-minute video, posted on YouTube by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), is described as showing dozens of militants who escaped from a Yemen prison in Sana in February being greeted by al-Qaeda’s number two in command, Nasir al-Wuhayshi. (Story formerly available at: bayoubuzz.com/us-news/item/649668-al-qaeda-gathering-on-video)
The video was posted on several YouTube channels, including terrorism and political violence watchdog TRAC - Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium - and is dated March 2014. It shows masked men waving al Qaeda's black flag and celebrating the arrival of members who were freed from the main prison in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen.
April. 16. 2014 | Ceylon Today | News
BBS classed as terrorist organization
Classified as a "radical Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organization, that... ...has organized campaigns against the country's minority Muslim and Christian communities, which the BBS deems as a threat to the Sinhalese Buddhist identity." The BBS is understood by the TRAC to be an organization which uses terrorism as a means to an end. TRAC has also pointed out that the BBS has close ties with the Sri Lankan Government including alleged affiliations with high-ranking Sri Lankan Government officials. (Story formerly available at: ceylontoday.lk/16-61735-news-detail-bbs-classed-as-terrorist-organization.html)
The US based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) has classified Sri Lanka’s Bodu Bala Sena as a ‘Religious and Cult Terrorist Group’. The same organization has classified the LTTE, British Tamil Forum and the Canadian Tamil Congress as terrorist groups.
April. 14. 2014 | Radio France International | News
In Nigeria, a morning rush hour bomb killed more than 70 people at a bus station on the outskirts of Abuja Monday. Veryan Khan, Editorial Director of TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, believes the attack is a direct response.
The Caucasus Emirate, a Salafist nationalist organization formed by Umarov in 2007, "aims to have an independent Caucuses Emirate ruled under Shariah and to abet a global jihad," according to the U.S.-based Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium.
TRAC claims a number of regional militant groups exist under the CE umbrella including:
the Yarmuk Jamaat, active in the republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, which turned to ambush-style tactics in 2010;
the Ingush Jamaat, active in many areas within Ingushetia and linked mainly to deaths of police officers, military personnel and officials;
the Dagestani Shariah Jamaat, the most prominent Islamist militant group in Dagestan, which uses tactics ranging from assassinations and drive-by shootings to kidnappings and improvised explosive devices
Riyad us-Saliheyn Martyrs' Brigade, which aims to form an independent Islamic state in Chechnya and uses suicide bombings.
November. 06. 2013 | Radio France International | News
In the US, the State Department has formally designated Boko Haram, radical Nigerian Islamists, as a "foreign terrorist organization." A second Nigerian group, Ansaru, has also been added to the list. This designation makes it a crime to provide "material support" to the two groups. This means that U.S. law enforcement agencies must block business and financial transactions with Boko Haram and Asaru. RFI's Michel Arseneault spoke to an expert from TRAC, the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, Veryan Khan.
November. 01. 2013 | Tiger News | Op/Ed
Clemson student's perspective on terrorism
There’s the National Liberation Front of Tripura, listed on the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium website as a militant group that forces locals to convert to Christianity via gunpoint. There’s the Provisional Irish Republican Army (the infamous IRA), which, according to The Telegraph, a UK newspaper, was responsible for the deaths of over 3,000 people in Great Britain and Ireland after a 32-year reign of terror. And there’s the Army of God, also listed on the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium website, a radical Christian group in the U.S. that bombed abortion clinics in the ‘80s. Something we tend to forget is that no major religion is free of extremists out to hurt others. (Link to original article no longer available as of January 28, 2016)
Analysts believe the hostage taking at the Westgate mall in Nairobi raises security questions for the Horn of Africa and the entire continent. Somalia's Shebab are now a household name the world over. Other radical Islamists in Africa, including Boko Haram in Nigeria, may want to follow their example. Veryan Khan, Editorial Director of TRAC and an expert on terrorism, says security forces in Nigeria should pay attention to what happened in Kenya. She told RFI's Michel Arseneault @miko75011 that there are lessons to be learned from Westgate massacre.
Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade: This group is perhaps the newest on the scene along with Jabhat Annosrah in Syria. As a recent discovery, little is known about them. The choice of the name indicates that they are concerned mainly with Tunisia. According to TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium) this “brigade” was formed sometime during the year 2012.
Is it somewhat possible that Mexican Cartels could work alongside Islamic terrorist groups and have training camps inside of Mexico? And have you ever heard about such rumors? There have been many such rumors of Mexican drug cartels working with AQ splinter groups — there are also rumors that the franchises would take advantage of the tunnels into the US for possible attacks. Though there is no solid proof I have seen of either rumor. The solid evidence is coming in for AQIM in Mali having connections with FARC in Colombia, financing attacks with Narcotics. It came 2 months ago that it was a direct weapons for product in a pretty sophisticated pipeline. Just last week a Malian man was convicted and deported for working the route.
Veryan Khan has devoted the last decade to researching terrorist groups across the globe. Trackingterrorism.org is a database created by Khan, to curate information about different terrorist groups.
February. 28. 2013 | Library Journal | News
Library Journal names TRAC as one of the best references of the year, labels it compelling, comprehensive
Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC); The Beacham Group
TRAC combines original analytical articles, copies of related news stories from a wide variety of sources, and links to connected resources and tools to create a compelling collection. Profiles of terrorist groups make up the largest section of the database, with hundreds of entities listed (including some that are no longer active, such as the African National Congress). Group profiles may include brief summaries of origins and links to TRAC articles about their ideology, tactics, and targets. An attractive, high-quality, and comprehensive treatment of terrorism-related information. (LJ 5/1/12, BS)
Have they hidden in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountainous terrain, waiting to cross borders into other countries or perhaps come back to fight? TRAC contributors Eric Husher, a Geopolitical & Military Assessments Analyst, and Pascale Siegel, of Insight Through Analysis Agency, both weigh in as the French SOF prepare to go into the Ifoghas to look for Mokhtar Belmokhtar and hostages he might be holding.
Late in 2012 a new terrorist group Jama'atu Ansarul Muslimina Fi Biladis Sudan (JAMBS - Ansaru), also known as Vanguard for the Protection of Black Muslims in Africa, splintered from Boko Haram, to create an all-new group, increasing the complexity of monitoring terrorist groups. It’s not alone; more than 200 new groups and individuals have been added to Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a digital research center. Through TRAC, researchers can find profiles that quickly connect to groups’ locations, ideology, targets, and tactics, and then be directed to sources of expanded data, enabling deeper analysis of even nascent groups possible. TRAC now connects researchers to information for nearly 4,000 groups and individuals, making it one of the largest unclassified repositories of data about terrorist activities.
October. 16. 2012 | Virtual Strategy | News
< Lashkar-e-Taiba Surpasses al-Qaeda as the Biggest Terrorist Threat ...
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) now represents the most significant terrorist threat to Western security interests from South Asia, according to Terrorism Analysis & Research Consortium (TRAC), published by The Beacham Group, LLC and one of the world’s leading resources for terrorism research. South Asia-based LeT -- best known for the notorious 2008 Mumbai massacre, a brazen three-day assault on the largest city in India -- has a more deadly combination of capability, capital, and intent to attack the West than al-Qaeda, the Taliban or the Haqqani Network.
New subscribers to Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), one of the world’s most comprehensive information sources for the study of terrorism and political violence, can save up to 40 percent through charter pricing. The Beacham Group, LLC., publishers of TRAC extended its recent discount program in response to high demand for the resource from libraries facing tight budgets. Read More
August. 17. 2012 | IISS Voices | News
Boko Haram is no African al-Qaeda
Earlier this year, Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan described Boko Haram, the Islamist group responsible for a series of terrorist attacks in his country, as having global ambitions. A senior Nigerian military commander has put it more starkly: ‘Boko Haram is al-Qaeda’. Many US and UK politicians have called for the group to be proscribed as a terrorist group; the US Department of State recently designated leader Abubakr Shekau – and two others with ties to the group – as terrorists. For more from Virginia Comolli on Boko Haram, read her piece with Jacob Zenn in Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC): ‘Danger at Home: Boko Haram’s Threat to Nigeria and The Limits of Its Strategic Expansion’ Read More
According to the latest U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2011, the Obama administration is more troubled about the threats of violence and terrorism in parts of central Africa – especially Nigeria -- than in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Now, Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) is providing researchers with insight into this growing danger with its newly published definitive analysis of the terrorist group Boko Haram, which threatens the stability of the Nigerian government and its lucrative oil exports to the West. Read More
Although the current hotbed of militant Islam is generally thought to be concentrated in Yemen and Somalia, some of the most dangerous leaders and terrorist cells directed at the “far enemy” (U.S. and its European allies) are in Germany. That’s the assertion of a new analysis of the extreme branch of Islam known as Salafism that has been added to the Publishing Center in Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), an online resource center for the study of terrorism and political violence. The analysis reveals how Germany’s Salafist groups are deeply connected to the most prominent jihadist leaders and are the perpetrators of homegrown, sophisticated plots and attacks against U.S. and European targets. Read More
May 2nd marks of the first anniversary of the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The experts behind Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), one of the world’s most comprehensive encyclopedic reference research centers for studying political violence, say his death along with those of several other of the group’s leaders have had a significant impact on Al Qaeda’s warfare operations. They have identified five key changes over the past year. TRAC Adds Definitive Profile of Racist Terrorist Groups
Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a digital research center, has added a comprehensive thesis on Racist Terrorist Groups to its roster of in-depth analyses of key terrorism issues. In TRAC’s largest article ever -- a rich mix of text and multimedia content, spanning 38 chapters – author John Harrison, Assistant Professor at the National Defense University, introduces researchers to the history of racism and racist movements, profiles of likely recruits and the techniques used to engage them, as well as emerging topics such as the use of new technology by the groups and law enforcement. Read More
March. 01. 2012 | Library Journal | News
Terrorism Research Consortium Debuts
The Beacham Group launched its Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) on February 27, after eight years of research and development. TRAC features a consortium of 2,800 specialists reporting from Russia, Poland, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Pakistan, Croatia, Afghanistan, Serbia, Sweden, United Kingdom, Canada, the United States and more.
February. 27. 2012 | Library Journal | News
Beacham Group Releases TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium
The Beacham Group LLC is today announcing their release of Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC), a comprehensive, live intelligence repository / e-research center eight years in the making. Designed for use by government and defense professionals, scholarly researchers, students, and the general public, TRAC includes over 6,000 (and counting) web pages of historical and current articles (on ideologies, terrorist targets, and tactics); profiles of vulnerable regions; a master index and profiles of 3,800 identified terrorist groups and groups known to aid and abet terrorist organizations; a Chatter Control section that monitors current news and analysis sources continuously throughout the day and posts real-time feeds to the site that are later cataloged and archived; a Resources and Tools section that includes a host of links to web sites, think tanks, organizations, counter-terrorism analysis, and much more terrorism-related information; and a Consortium Network of 2,800 terrorism specialists from around the world who can communicate with each other via the resource. Those with expertise to offer can even become contributors to the site and file stories online through the Publishing Center to add to the resource. The site has a universal search function that allows you to search the entire database.