Spare a thought for the Coptic Christian’s of Egypt & all Christian minority groups throughout the world in these troubled times. Those who live in lands controlled by the Mad Men of Islamic State & their shameful, demonic worldwide Terrorist Franchise are being killed and slaughtered every-single-day. Sadly the world is so busy and overwhelmed by the never ending Terror on our own streets that we hardly seem to notice.
These mad extremists hate us because in their eyes we are “infidels” and they are consumed by their deluded , twisted , evil ideology , built on hate , paranoia and policed by the dark arts of the wicked Sharia Law.
plural noun: infidels
a person who has no religion or whose religion is not that of the majority.
“a crusade against infidels and heretics”
The events in Manchester this week has shocked and sicken all decent people the world over and the sad fact is we are now living in a new age off Terrorism , where there are no longer ANY Boundaries , both ethically and demographically and the slaughtered of the most vulnerable and young among us is no longer sacred.
Islamic Extremists seem to permeate & engulf our daily lives and sadly they aren’t going to go away any time soon.
Like many I have shed tears for the victims of this unspeakably evil act and watching their families on the TV and their emotional agony breaks my heart every single time.
Saffie Rose Roussos
The beautiful angelic little Saffie Rose Roussos
The family and I have been down every day to pay our respects and silent contemplation
The victims in Egypt are also victims of this modern curse and my thoughts and prayers are with their families.
We are all “Prey” to these Islamic Monsters and someway , somehow we have to destroy this hate filled twisted ideology and eradicate it and all its followers from the history of the mankind.
Coptic Christian attack:
ISIS claims its ‘soldiers’ opened fire on bus killing 29 in Egypt
An Islamic State affiliate released a video Monday vowing that Egyptian Christians are their “favourite prey,” showing images of a suicide bomber who killed nearly 30 people inside a packed Cairo church in December.
“God gave orders to kill every infidel,”
one of the militants carrying an AK-47 assault rifle says in the 20-minute video.
The video shows footage of Egypt’s Coptic Christian Pope, Christian businessmen, judges and priests who either speak of the need to protect the minority or use derogatory terms to refer to Egypt’s Muslim majority. The narrator says Christians were no longer “dhimmis,” a reference to non-Muslims in Islam who enjoy a degree of state protection. Instead, the group describes the Christians as “infidels” who are empowering the West against Muslim nations.
Abu Abdullah al-Masri
The video shows footage of Abu Abdullah al-Masri, a masked militant who blew himself up at the central Cairo church in December, killing 28 people, most of which were women and children. The attack, says a narrator, was “only the beginning.
“Oh worshippers of the cross … the soldiers of the state are watching you,” another masked militant identified as Abu Zubair al-Masri says.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the church bombing, which was its deadliest attack in Egypt outside the Sinai Peninsula, according to Reuters. Prior to the attack, Abu Abdullah al-Masri had been detained for two months in 2014 before joining Wilayat Sinai, the name of the ISIS branch in Sinai, the Egyptian government said.
Wilayat Sinai has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings and attacks, mainly targeting security forces and military across the country but primarily in Sinai Peninsula, where the army has been leading an anti-terrorism operation for years.
Under Muslim rule, the ethnic Copts were cut off from the mainstream of Christianity, and were compelled to adhere to the Pact of Umar covenant, thus assigned to Dhimmi status. Their position improved dramatically under the rule of Muhammad Ali in the early 19th century. He abolished the Jizya (a tax on non-Muslims) and allowed ethnic Copts to enroll in the army. Pope Cyril IV, 1854–61, reformed the church and encouraged broader Coptic participation in Egyptian affairs. Khedive Isma’il Pasha, in power 1863–79, further promoted the Copts.
He appointed them judges to Egyptian courts and awarded them political rights and representation in government. They flourished in business affairs.
Some ethnic Copts participated in the Egyptian national movement for independence and occupied many influential positions. Two significant cultural achievements include the founding of the Coptic Museum in 1910 and the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies in 1954. Some prominent Coptic thinkers from this period are Salama Moussa, Louis Awad and Secretary General of the Wafd PartyMakram Ebeid.
In 1952, Gamal Abdel Nasser led some army officers in a coup d’état against King Farouk, which overthrew the Kingdom of Egypt and established a republic. Nasser‘s mainstream policy was pan-Arab nationalism and socialism. The ethnic Copts were severely affected by Nasser’s nationalization policies, though they represented about 10–20% of the population.
In addition, Nasser’s pan-Arab policies undermined the Copts’ strong attachment to and sense of identity about their Egyptian pre-Arab, and certainly non-Arab identity which resulted in permits to construct churches to be delayed along with Christian religious courts to be closed.
Many Coptic intellectuals hold to “Pharaonism,” which states that Coptic culture is largely derived from pre-Christian, Pharaonic culture, and is not indebted to Greece. It gives the Copts a claim to a deep heritage in Egyptian history and culture. Pharaonism was widely held by Coptic and Muslim scholars in the early 20th century, and it helped bridge the divide between those groups. However, some Western scholars today argue that Pharaonism was a late development shaped primarily by Orientalism, and doubt its validity.
Religious freedom in Egypt is hampered to varying degrees by discriminatory and restrictive government policies. Coptic Christians, being the largest religious minority in Egypt, are also negatively affected. Copts have faced increasing marginalization after the 1952 coup d’état led by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Until recently, Christians were required to obtain presidential approval for even minor repairs in churches.
Although the law was eased in 2005 by handing down the authority of approval to the governors, Copts continue to face many obstacles and restrictions in building new churches. These restrictions do not apply for building mosques.
The Coptic community has been targeted by hate crimes resulting in Copts being victims of murder by Islamic extremists. The most significant was the 2000–01 El Kosheh attacks, in which Muslims and Christians were involved in bloody inter-religious clashes following a dispute between a Muslim and a Christian.
“Twenty Christians and one Muslim were killed after violence broke out in the town of el-Kosheh, 440 kilometres (270 mi) south of Cairo”.
International Christian Concern reported that in February 2001, Muslims burned a new Egyptian church and the homes of 35 Christians, and that in April 2001 a 14-year-old Egyptian Christian girl was kidnapped because her parents were believed to be harboring a person who had converted from Islam to Christianity.
In 2006, one person attacked three churches in Alexandria, killing one person and injuring 5–16. The attacker was not linked to any organisation and described as “psychologically disturbed” by the Ministry of Interior.
In May 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported increasing waves of mob attacks by Muslims against ethnic Copts. Despite frantic calls for help, the police typically arrived after the violence was over. The police also coerced the Copts to accept “reconciliation” with their attackers to avoid prosecuting them, with no Muslims convicted for any of the attacks.
In Marsa Matrouh, a Bedouin mob of 3,000 Muslims tried to attack the city’s Coptic population, with 400 Copts having to barricade themselves in their church while the mob destroyed 18 homes, 23 shops and 16 cars.
Members of U.S. Congress have expressed concern about “human trafficking” of Coptic women and girls who are victims of abductions, forced conversion to Islam, sexual exploitation and forced marriage to Muslim men.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali is a Copt who served as Egypt‘s foreign minister under President Anwar Sadat. Today, only two Copts are on Egypt‘s governmental cabinet: Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali and Environment Minister Magued George. There is also currently one Coptic governor out of 25, that of the upper Egyptian governorate of Qena, and the first Coptic governor in a few decades. In addition, Naguib Sawiris, an extremely successful businessman and one of the world’s 100 wealthiest people, is a Copt. In 2002, under the Mubarak government, Coptic Christmas (January 7) was recognized as an official holiday.
However, many Copts continue to complain of being minimally represented in law enforcement, state security and public office, and of being discriminated against in the workforce on the basis of their religion. Most Copts do not support independence or separation movement from other Egyptians.
While freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution, according to Human Rights Watch,
“Egyptians are able to convert to Islam generally without difficulty, but Muslims who convert to Christianity face difficulties in getting new identity papers and some have been arrested for allegedly forging such documents.”
The Coptic community, however, takes pains to prevent conversions from Christianity to Islam due to the ease with which Christians can often become Muslim. Public officials, being conservative themselves, intensify the complexity of the legal procedures required to recognize the religion change as required by law. Security agencies will sometimes claim that such conversions from Islam to Christianity (or occasionally vice versa) may stir social unrest, and thereby justify themselves in wrongfully detaining the subjects, insisting that they are simply taking steps to prevent likely social troubles from happening.
In 2007, a Cairo administrative court denied 45 citizens the right to obtain identity papers documenting their reversion to Christianity after converting to Islam. However, in February 2008 the Supreme Administrative Court overturned the decision, allowing 12 citizens who had reverted to Christianity to re-list their religion on identity cards, but they will specify that they had adopted Islam for a brief period of time.
The Egyptian Census of 1897 reported the percentage of Non-Muslims in Urban Provinces as 14.7% (13.2% Christians, 1.4% Jews). The Egyptian Census of 1986 reported the percentage of Non-Muslims in Urban Provinces as 6.1% (5.7% Christians, 0% Jews). The decline in the Jewish representation is interpreted through the creation of the state of Israel, and the subsequent emigration of the Egyptian Jews. There is no explanation for a 55% decline in the percentage of Christians in Egypt. It has been suggested that Egyptian censuses held after 1952 have been politicized to under-represent the Christian population.
In August 2013, following the 3 July 2013 Coup and clashes between the military and Morsi supporters, there were widespread attacks on Coptic churches and institutions in Egypt by Sunni Muslims. According to at least one Egyptian scholar (Samuel Tadros), the attacks are the worst violence against the Coptic Church since the 14th century.
USA Today reported that “forty churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged”. The Facebook page of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party was “rife with false accusations meant to foment hatred against Copts”, according to journalist Kirsten Powers. The Party’s page claimed that the Coptic Church had declared “war against Islam and Muslims” and that
“The Pope of the Church is involved in the removal of the first elected Islamist president. The Pope of the Church alleges Islamic Sharia is backwards, stubborn, and reactionary.”
On August 15, nine Egyptian human rights groups under the umbrella group “Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights”, released a statement saying,
In December … Brotherhood leaders began fomenting anti-Christian sectarian incitement. The anti-Coptic incitement and threats continued unabated up to the demonstrations of June 30 and, with the removal of President Morsi … morphed into sectarian violence, which was sanctioned by … the continued anti-Coptic rhetoric heard from the group’s leaders on the stage … throughout the sit-in.
Events related to Copts
An Egyptian court on February 25, 2016 convicted four Coptic Christian teenagers for contempt of Islam, after they appeared in a video mocking Muslim prayers.
Nearly all Egyptian Christians today are ethnic Copts, adherents of either the Coptic Orthodox Church or other Coptic churches.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a militant Islamist group active in Libya under three branches: Fezzan Province (Arabic: ولاية الفزان, Wilayah al-Fizan) in the desert south, Cyrenaica Province (Arabic: ولاية البرقة, Wilayah al-Barqah) in the east, and Tripolitania Province (Arabic: ولاية الطرابلس, Wilayah al-Tarabulus) in the west.
The branches were formed on 13 November 2014, following pledges of allegiance to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi by militants in Libya
In 2012, one group of Libyans fighting in Syria declared the establishment of the Battar Brigade. The Battar Brigade would later pledge loyalty to ISIL, and fight for it in both Syria and Iraq.
In the spring of 2014, up to 300 Battar Brigade veterans returned to Libya. In Derna, they formed a new faction called the Islamic Youth Shura Council, which began recruiting militants from other local groups. Among the joinees were many members of the Derna branch of Ansar al-Sharia.
During the next few months, they declared war on anyone in Derna who opposed them, killing judges, civic leaders and other opponents, including local militants who rejected their authority such as the al-Qaeda-allied Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade.
In September 2014, an ISIL delegation that had been dispatched by the group’s leadership arrived in Libya. The representatives included Abu Nabil al Anbari, a senior aide to al-Baghdadi and a veteran of the Iraq conflict, the Saudi Abu Habib al-Jazrawi, and the Yemeni or Saudi Abu al-Baraa el-Azdi, a militant and preacher from Syria.
On 5 October 2014, the Islamic Youth Shura Council-aligned militant factions came together and pledged allegiance to ISIL. After the pledging ceremony, more than 60 pickup trucks filled with fighters cruised through the city in a victory parade.
A second more formal gathering involving a larger array of factions took place on 30 October 2014, where the militants gathered to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in the city square.
On 13 November 2014, al-Baghdadi released an audio-recording in which he accepted pledges of allegiance from supporters in five countries, including Libya, and announced the expansion of his group to those territories.
He went on to announce the creation of three “provinces” (wilayah) in Libya: Wilayah al-Fizan (Fezzan in the desert south), Wilayah al-Barqah (Cyrenaica in the east), and Wilayah al-Tarabulus (Tripolitania in the west). The three wilayahs in Libya represent statelets, meaning they are a governates that hold territory and operate like a state.
Attacks and Expansion across Libya
Current military situation (as of 7 December 2016)
When founded, ISIL claimed a presence in al Bayda, Benghazi, Sirte, al-Khums, and the Libyan capital Tripoli. The Cyrenaica branch of ISIL had around 800 fighters and half a dozen camps in Derna’s outskirts. It also had larger facilities in the Jebel Akhdar area, where North African fighters were trained.
In December 2014, ISIL recruiters in Turkey told their Libyan associates to stop sending fighters to Syria and to focus on domestic attacks, according to the Wall Street Journal. In the following weeks, ISIL carried out attacks against oil installations and international hotels, performed mass executions and attempted to take over further Libyan territory.
On 30 March 2015, Ansar al-Sharia‘s general Shariajurist Abu Abdullah Al-Libi pledged allegiance to ISIL, a number of the group’s members defected with him.
The city of Sirte had been loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and suffered massive damage at the conclusion of the 2011 Civil War, later becoming home to militant Islamist groups like Ansar al-Sharia. ISIL formally announced their presence in Sirte in early 2015, driving a parade of vehicles through the city and declaring it part of their caliphate. Ansar al-Sharia split over how to respond, with most of their members joining ISIL.
The group reportedly recruited many locals, former Gaddafi supporters alienated from the post-war political order in Libya, after they “repented” and pledged allegiance to al-Baghdadi. They were quickly able to take over much of the city.
ISIL implemented their harsh interpretation of Sharia gradually, first focusing on building loyalty and allegiance from the tribal society of Sirte. In August 2015 Islamic codes of dress and behaviour began to be enforced more strongly and punishments like crucifixions and lashings began to be carried out.
There was an uprising against ISIL in Sirte in the same month, with members of the Ferjani tribe, Salafists and former members of the security forces attacking ISIL forces. ISIL brought in reinforcements from outside of Sirte and the uprising was swiftly defeated, with media reports claiming dozens or hundreds of Sirte residents were killed after the fighting.
ISIL began to solidify its rule in Sirte, increasing its state building efforts and using it as a base to expand its territory. ISIL fighters from Sirte took over the neighbouring towns of Nofaliya, and Harawa during this period.
The group suffered reverses in other parts of Libya during this period, including in Derna, Benghazi, and Sabratha. In June 2015, clashes erupted in Derna between ISIL and the rival Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna supported by the Libyan Air Force, which caused heavy casualties on both sides and led to ISIL forces being driven out of their strongholds in the city the following month.
In November 2015, a US air strike killed ISIL’s leader in Libya, Abu Nabil al Anbari. He was succeeded by Abdel Qader al-Najdi.
In early 2016, the Khalifa Haftar-led Libyan National Army, reportedly with the assistance of French Special Forces, captured parts of Benghazi that had been held by ISIL for months. In February 2016, a U.S. air strike targeted an ISIL training camp near Sabratha, killing more than 40 people including the Tunisian ISIL member Noureddine Chouchane, linked to the 2015 Sousse attacks, as well as two Serbians who had been kidnapped by ISIL in 2015.
In December 2016, following a 7-month long battle, ISIL was cleared from Sirte by Libyan Forces, with assistance from air strikes by the United States. The group withdrew to desert areas south of Sirte, and began mostly low level attacks on Libyan forces and local infrastructure. In January 2017, U.S. airstrikes on an ISIL base 25 miles southwest of Sirte reportedly killed over 80 militants.
Libyan intelligence chiefs claimed in early February 2016, that the Islamic State is recruiting fighters from Africa’s poorest nations, including Chad, Mali and Sudan. ISIL offers generous salaries compared to the average wages in the region. Many of the fighters reach Libya using existing people-smuggling routes used by African migrants heading to Europe.
The “Media Office for Cyrenaica Province” has published photos and other material showing buildings with ISIL insignia, suicide bombers, parades, and pledges of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. A reporter for The New York Times who visited the outskirts of Sirte found that ISIL had taken over the local radio station, and all four stations on the dial were being used to transmit Islamic sermons.
ISIL in Libya had threatened to facilitate the arrival of thousands of migrants to destabilize Europe if they are attacked.
Billboards instructing women how to dress according to ISIL’s interpretation of Sharia were erected in Sirte in July 2015. The billboard gave a list of restrictions on dress for women.
“Instructions on wearing the hijab according to Sharia
It must be thick and not revealing
It must be loose (not tight)
It must cover all the body
It must not be attractive
It must not resemble the clothes of unbelievers or men
It must not be decorative and eye-catching
It must not be perfumed.”
Human rights abuses and war crimes allegations
By late 2014, Derna was fully under ISIL control, with the Black Standard flying over government buildings, police cars carrying ISIL insignia, and the local football stadium being used for public executions. A Human Rights Watch report accused ISIL linked groups in control of Derna of war crimes and human rights abuses that include terrorizing residents in the absence of state authorities and the rule of law.
Human Rights Watch documented 3 apparent summary executions and at least 10 public floggings by the Islamic Youth Shura Council, which joined ISIL in November 2014. They also documented beheadings of three Derna residents and 250 seemingly politically motivated assassinations of judges, public officials, members of the security forces, journalists, and others with no public investigations. Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East, and North Africa director said,
“Commanders should understand that they may face domestic or international prosecution for the grave rights abuses their forces are committing.”
Under ISIL’s watch, women increasingly wore face veils and young men caught drinking alcohol were flogged. Education changes included male/female segregation of students, and the removal of history and geography from the curriculum. New Islamic religious police flyers ordered clothing stores to cover their mannequins and not to display “scandalous women’s clothes that cause sedition.” The law school was closed.
Claimed and alleged attacks
In November 2014, ISIL’s Cyrenaica wing claimed it had previously dispatched nine suicide bombers from Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia to carry out attacks against Libyan security forces in and around Benghazi. CNN reported that several of these attacks seemed to correspond to previously unclaimed suicide bombings, including a twin-attack on a Libyan special forces camp in Benghazi on 23 July 2014 and a 2 October 2014 attack on a military checkpoint near Benina airport.
Cyrenaica Province is the prime suspect in a 12 November 2014 suicide bombing in Tobruk that killed one and wounded 14, and a bombing outside Labraq air force base in Al-Bayda that killed four, according to a CNN report.
On November 13, bombs exploded near the embassies of Egypt and the UAE in Tripoli, however no casualties were reported. An ISIL-linked Twitter account suggested their Tripoli wing was responsible for the attacks, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.
In December 2014, the beheaded bodies of Mohammed Battu and Sirak Qath, human rights activists abducted in Derna on 6 November 2014, were found.
In January 2015, the group’s Cyrenaica branch published photos claiming to show the execution of two Tunisian journalists who had been kidnapped in September 2014.
On 27 January 2015, an attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli involving gunmen and a carbomb killed at least ten people, including five foreigners. The group’s Tripoli branch claimed responsibility for the attack, claiming it was revenge for the death of Libyan al-Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi in American custody earlier in the month.
On 3 February 2015, gunmen claiming to represent ISIL stormed a French-Libyan oil field near the town of Mabruk, killing nine guards.
“avenge the kidnapping of Muslim women by the Egyptian Coptic Church”.
On 20 February 2015, the group carried out bombings in Al Qubbah, which targeted a petrol station, a police station and the home of the Libyan parliamentary speaker, killing at least 40 people.
ISIL claimed responsibility for a 24 March 2014 suicide carbombing that killed five soldiers and two civilians at an army checkpoint in Benghazi.
A 5 April 2015, ISIL’s Tripolitania branch claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on a checkpoint outside Misrata, which killed four and wounded 21.
On 13 April 2015 militants claiming loyalty to ISIL posted claims of responsibility on Twitter for a bombing outside the Moroccan embassy that caused no casualties, and a gun attack on the South Korean embassy the day before that killed two guards.
On 19 April 2015 a video was released online by ISIL showing the killing of approximately 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya. 15 of the men were beheaded, and another group of the same size were shot in the head.
On 27 April 2015, the bodies of five men with slit throats were found in the Green Mountain forests. The bodies were identified as five journalists working for a Libyan TV station who had been kidnapped at an ISIL checkpoint in August 2014.
On 9 June 2015 US government officials confirmed that ISIL in Libya had captured 86 Eritrean migrants south of Tripoli.
None of Ansar al Sharia’s allies in the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council, the Islamist coalition fighting General Khalifa Haftar‘s forces for control of territory, pledged allegiance to Baghdadi. The Islamic State has supporters in Libya, particularly among the jihadist youth. But other groups are still, by all outward appearances, more entrenched.”
Libya Dawn claimed that it had intelligence reports showing that those who claimed to support ISIL in Tripoli were agents provocateur planted by foreign countries to discredit it. The statement was viewed as an attempt to explain away the growing issue of the extremists in western Libya, with ISIL supporters said to be present at the Majr camp in Zliten, and in Sabratha.
Islamic State are taking a battering and slowly slowly these mad dogs are being brought to their knees and hopefully its only a matter of time before we eradicate this stain on humanity once and for all and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is rotting in the eternal flames of hell.
Because Karma has been a witness to his madness and Karma always collects its debts!
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted 12 strikes consisting of 20 engagements against ISIS targets:
Near Dayr Az Zawr, six strikes destroyed eight wellheads, four pump jacks and three oil tanker trunks and damaged two pump jacks and a wellhead.
Near Raqqa, six strikes engaged four ISIS tactical units; destroyed four fighting positions, an ISIS-held building, and a vehicle; and damaged two supply routes.
Strikes in Iraq
In Iraq, coalition military forces conducted eight strikes consisting of 84 engagements against ISIS targets, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
Near Haditha, a strike destroyed three improvised bombs.
Near Mosul, five strikes engaged four ISIS tactical units; destroyed 27 fighting positions, three rocket-propelled grenade systems, two vehicle bombs, an artillery system, a mortar system, a heavy machine gun, a road block, a vehicle and a vehicle bomb factory; damaged 12 supply routes; and suppressed five ISIS mortar teams and two ISIS tactical units.
Near Tal Afar, two strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroyed an ISIS-held building and damaged three supply routes.
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve
These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.
The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.
Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect. For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.
The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.
Unlike their coalition partners, and unlike previous combat operations, no name was initially given to the conflict against ISIS by the U.S. government. The decision to keep the conflict nameless drew considerable media criticism.
The U.S. decided in October 2014 to name its military efforts against ISIS as “Operation Inherent Resolve”; the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) news release announcing the name noted that:
According to CENTCOM officials, the name INHERENT RESOLVE is intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community. It also symbolizes the willingness and dedication of coalition members to work closely with our friends in the region and apply all available dimensions of national power necessary—diplomatic, informational, military, economic—to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.
The Defense Department announced at the end of October 2014 that troops operating in support of Operation Inherent Resolve after 15 June were eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Service areas are: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as troops supporting the operation in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea east of 25 degrees longitude. The medal is approved retroactively beginning 15 June, the Pentagon said.
By 4 December 2014, three U.S. service members had died from accidents or non-combat injuries.
As of 9 March 2016, nearly 11,000 airstrikes have been launched on ISIS (and occasionally Al-Nusra), killing over 27,000 fighters and striking over 22,000 targets, including 139 tanks, 371 Humvees, and 1,216 pieces of oil infrastructure. Approximately 80% of these airstrikes have been conducted by American forces, with the remaining 20% being launched by other members of the coalition, such as the United Kingdom and Australia. 7,268 strikes hit targets in Iraq, while 3,602 hit targets in Syria.
On 12 June 2016, it was reported that 120 Islamic State leaders, commanders, propagandists, recruiters and other high-value individuals were killed so far this year.
Until March 2016, U.S. military members were ineligible for Campaign Medals and other service decorations due to the continuing ambiguous nature of the continuing U.S. involvement in Iraq. However, on 30 March 2016, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced the creation of a new medal, named “Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal“.
On 16 June 2016, AV-8B II+ Harriers of the 13th MEU flying off the USS Boxer began airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria the first time the U.S. Navy has used ship-based aircraft from both the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf at the same time during Operation Inherent Resolve (aircraft from the USS Harry S. Truman began airstrikes on IS targets from the Mediterranean on 3 June).
As of 27 July 2016, U.S. and coalition partners conducted more than 14,000 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria: Nearly 11,000 of those strikes were from U.S. aircraft and the majority of the strikes (more than 9,000) were in Iraq. Of the 26,374 targets hit, nearly 8,000 were against ISIS fighting positions, while approximately 6,500 hit buildings; ISIS staging areas and oil infrastructure were each hit around 1,600 times. On 15 December 2016, the UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said that :
“more than 25,000 Daesh fighters have now been killed,” a number that is half of the United States’ estimate.
When asked about this discrepancy, the UK’s Ministry of Defense said that it stood by his estimate.
Since the first U.S. airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq on 8 August 2014, over two years, the U.S. military has spent over $8.4 billion fighting ISIS.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, U.S.-led Coalition airstrikes have killed 7,043 people across Syria, of which: 5,768 dead were ISIL fighters, 304 Al-Nusra Front militants and other rebels, 90 government soldiers and 881 civilians. The air strikes occurred in the period between 22 September 2014 and 23 January 2017.
In March 2017, various media outlets reported that conventional forces from the 11th MEU deployed to Syria to support US-backed forces in liberating Raqqa from ISIS occupation. The deployment marks a new escalation in the U.S. war in Syria.
As of Feb. 28, 2017, the U.S.-led air coalition has conducted 3,271 sorties in 2017, 2,129 of which have resulted in at least one weapon released. In total, the coalition released 7,040 weapons in Iraq and Syria in this same time period in an effort to destroy ISIS.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (Arabic: أبو مصعب الزرقاوي, pronunciation(help·info)’Abū Muṣ‘ab az-Zarqāwī, Abu Musab from Zarqa; October 20, 1966 – June 7, 2006), born Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh (أحمد فضيل النزال الخلايله, ’Aḥmad Faḍīl an-Nazāl al-Ḫalāyla), was a militant Islamist from Jordan who ran a paramilitary training camp in Afghanistan. He became known after going to Iraq and being responsible for a series of bombings, beheadings, and attacks during the Iraq War, reportedly
“turning an insurgency against US troops” in Iraq “into a Shia-Sunni civil war”.
He was sometimes known as “Shaykh of the slaughterers”.
He formed al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in the 1990s, and led it until his death in June 2006. Zarqawi took responsibility, on several audio and video recordings, for numerous acts of violence in Iraq including suicide bombings and hostage executions. Zarqawi opposed the presence of U.S. and Western military forces in the Islamic world, as well as the West’s support for the existence of Israel. In late 2004 he joined al-Qaeda, and pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden.
After this al-Tawhid wal-Jihad became known as Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, also known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and al-Zarqawi was given the al-Qaeda title “Emir of Al Qaeda in the Country of Two Rivers”.
In September 2005, he declared “all-out war” on Shi’ites in Iraq, after the Iraqi government offensive on insurgents in the Sunni town of Tal Afar. He dispatched numerous suicide bombers throughout Iraq to attack American soldiers and areas with large concentrations of Shia militias. He is also thought to be responsible for the 2005 bombing of three hotels in Amman, Jordan.
Ahmad Fadeel al-Nazal al-Khalayleh (Arabic: أحمد فضيل النزال الخلايلة ’Aḥmad Faḍīl an-Nazāl al-Ḫalāyla), is believed to have been al-Zarqawi’s real name. “Abu Musab” literally translates to “Musab’s father”, born in the name Ahmed al-Khalayleh to an impoverished Palestinian-Jordanian family in 1966.He was raised in Zarqa, an industrial town located 17 miles north of Amman.
Zarqawi is reported as having been a high school dropout and a petty criminal in his youth.
“Zarqawi’s criminal past and extreme views on takfir (accusing another Muslim of heresy and thereby justifying his killing) created major friction and distrust with bin Laden when the two first met in Afghanistan in 1999.”
He returned to Jordan, and sometime in 1989–1992 he helped start the local militant group Jund al-Sham (‘The Syria Division’).
He was arrested in Jordan after guns and explosives were found in his home and sent to prison in 1992. In prison, he attempted to draft his cell mates into joining him to overthrow the rulers of Jordan, a former prison mate told Time magazine in 2004.
According to Jordanian officials and acquaintances, Zarqawi developed a reputation as a cellblock enforcer and adopted more radical Islamic beliefs.
1999–2000 Training of Jihadists
In 1999, Zarqawi was released from prison in a general amnesty by Jordan’s King Abdullah. Within months after his release, according to Jordanian officials, Zarqawi tried to resurrect his Jund al-Sham. Then, also according to Jordanian officials, he was involved in the millennium plot—a bid to bomb the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman (Jordan) before New Year’s Day 2000.
The plot was discovered, and Zarqawi fled to Pakistan.
When Pakistan revoked his visa, he crossed into Afghanistan, where he met, still according to Jordanian officials and also German court testimony, with Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders in Kandahar and Kabul. He asked them for assistance and money to set up his own training camp in Herat.
With some “small seed money” of $200,000 from Osama bin Laden, the camp opened soon and attracted Jordanian militants.
That camp was either for his group Jund al-Sham—as one, indirect, source contended —or for his newly started group Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad—as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy claimed —or he started one or two camps for both of those groups in Herat in 1999; or it is also possible that Zarqawi set up only one camp for only one group known by those two different names in 1999. GlobalSecurity.org called it “a camp near Herat, reportedly specialised in manufacturing poisons”
After the October 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, Zarqawi returned in Afghanistan to help repel the assault with Taliban and al-Qaida fighters, where he either suffered cracked ribs following the collapse of a bombed house or, according to a Jordanian intelligence source, was wounded in the chest during a firefight, late 2001.
He fled to Iran in December 2001 or January 5, 2002 and received medical treatment in Mashhad. The Iranian government reportedly refused Jordanian requests to extradite Zarqawi, but circumstantial evidence suggests that Iranian authorities may have restricted Zarqawi’s activities to some extent.
2002 Involvement in the Murder of Laurence Foley
The U.S. government contended (in 2003 in a U.N. speech) that Zarqawi received medical treatment in Baghdad, Iraq, from March until May 2002. About that time, Jordanian authorities asked Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to extradite Zarqawi for his suspected role in the millennium plot of 1999 (see above).
By and during the summer of 2002, Zarqawi’s location and activities appear in reports that conflict with one another. In 2004, Jordanian court documents said that Zarqawi, during this summer, began training a band of fighters at a base in Syria, which group on October 28, 2002 shot and killed Laurence Foley, U.S. senior administrator of U.S. Agency for International Development in Amman, Jordan.
According to Arab intelligence sources in 2004, Zarqawi was still in Syria late in 2002, when U.S. and Jordan requested his extradition from Syria, which Syria refused.
A little later, Zarqawi, the Senate report claimed, fled to Iran and northeastern Iraq.
2003–2006 Terrorist Activities in and Around Iraq
U.S. soldiers in Fallujah, November 2004. Al-Zarqawi’s network was the main target.
In February 2003, according to Arab intelligence sources, Zarqawi in eastern Iran planned military resistance to the expected U.S. invasion of Iraq. And, by March 2003, according to British intelligence, Zarqawi’s network had set up sleeper cells in Baghdad to resist an expected U.S. occupation.
Zarqawi targeted Shia Islamic mosques as well as civilians, U.N. representatives, Iraqi government institutions, Egypt’s ambassador, Russian diplomats and foreign civilians in Iraq and hotel visitors in Jordan, possibly also Christian churches, the Jordanian embassy, and the U.S.-led Multi-National Force in Iraq, most of whom he professedly hated either as apostates of Islam, or as “infidels” “giving Palestine to the Jew , or as individuals oppressing and “humiliating our [Islamic] people” or “nation”.
By May 2005, Zarqawi was the most wanted man in Jordan and Iraq, having claimed scores of attacks in Iraq against Iraqis and foreigners, and being blamed for perhaps even more. The U.S. government then offered a $25m reward for information leading to his capture, the same amount offered for the capture of bin Laden before March 2004.
For the U.S. eventually killing Zarqawi in 2006, see the section Death.
Four wives, five children
Zarqawi’s first wife, Umm Mohammed, was a Jordanian woman who was around 40 years old when Zarqawi died in June 2006. She lived in Zarqa, Jordan, along with their four children, including a seven-year-old son, Musab. She had advised Zarqawi to leave Iraq temporarily and give orders to his deputies from outside the country.
“He gave me an angry look and said, ‘Me, me? I can’t betray my religion and get out of Iraq. In the Name of Allah, I will not leave Iraq until victory or martyrdom’,”
she said of al-Zarqawi.
Zarqawi’s second wife, Isra, was 14 years old when he married her. She was the daughter of Yassin Jarrad, a Palestinian Islamic militant, who is blamed for the killing in 2003 of Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, the Iraqi Shia leader. She bore him a child when she was 15 and was killed along with Zarqawi and their child.
Al-Zarqawi’s third wife was an Iraqi who might have perished in the airstrike with her husband.
Zarqawi is also said to have married a woman from a Pakistani tribe around Peshawar.
In 1999, Zarqawi, according to Jordanian officials, became involved in a plot to blow up the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, where many Israeli and American tourists lodged, before New Year’s Day 2000. He failed in this attempt and fled to Afghanistan and then entered Iraq via Iran after the overthrow of the Taliban in late 2001.
From Iraq he started his terrorist campaign by hiring men to kill Laurence Foley who was a senior U.S. diplomat working for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Jordan. On October 28, 2002, Foley was assassinated outside his home in Amman. Under interrogation by Jordanian authorities, three suspects confessed that they had been armed and paid by Zarqawi to perform the assassination. U.S. officials believe that the planning and execution of the Foley assassination was led by members of Afghan Jihad, the International Mujaheddin Movement, and al-Qaeda. One of the leaders, Salim Sa’d Salim Bin-Suwayd, was paid over $27,858 for his work in planning assassinations in Jordan against U.S., Israeli, and Jordanian government officials. Suwayd was arrested in Jordan for the murder of Foley.
Zarqawi was again sentenced in absentia in Jordan; this time, as before, his sentence was death.
Zarqawi, according to the BBC, was named as the brains behind a series of deadly bomb attacks in Casablanca, Morocco and Istanbul, Turkey in 2003. U.S. officials believe that Zarqawi trained others in the use of poison (ricin ) for possible attacks in Europe. Zarqawi had also planned to attack a NATO summit in June 2004. According to suspects arrested in Turkey, Zarqawi sent them to Istanbul to organize an attack on a NATO summit there on June 28 or 29, 2004.
On April 26, 2004, Jordanian authorities announced they had broken up an al-Qaeda plot to use chemical weapons in Amman. Among the targets were the U.S. Embassy, the Jordanian prime minister’s office and the headquarters of Jordanian intelligence. In a series of raids, the Jordanians seized 20 tons of chemicals, including blistering agents, nerve gas and numerous explosives. Also seized were three trucks equipped with specially modified plows, apparently designed to crash through security barricades.
Jordanian state television aired a videotape of four men admitting they were part of the plot. One of the conspirators, Azmi Al-Jayousi, said that he was acting on the orders of Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi. On February 15, 2006, Jordan’s High Court of Security sentenced nine men, including al-Zarqawi, to death for their involvement in the plot. Zarqawi was convicted of planning the entire attack from his post in Iraq, funding the operation with nearly $120,000, and sending a group of Jordanians into Jordan to execute the plan. Eight of the defendants were accused of belonging to a previously unknown group, “Kata’eb al-Tawhid” or Battalions of Monotheism, which was headed by al-Zarqawi and linked to al Qaeda.
The November 2005 Amman bombings that killed sixty people in three hotels, including several officials of the Palestinian Authority and members of a Chinese defense delegation, were claimed by Zarqawi’s group ‘Al-Qaeda in Iraq’.
“Reporting since (February) suggests that senior al Qaeda associate Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has established sleeper cells in Baghdad, to be activated during a U.S. occupation of the city… These cells apparently intend to attack U.S. targets using car bombs and other weapons. (It is also possible that they have received [chemical and biological] materials from terrorists in the [Kurdish Autonomous Zone]), … al Qaeda-associated terrorists continued to arrive in Baghdad in early March.”
American hostage Nick Berg seated, with five men standing over him. The man directly behind him, alleged to be Zarqawi, is the one who beheaded Berg.
In May 2004, a video appeared on an alleged al-Qaeda website showing a group of five men, their faces covered with keffiyeh or balaclavas, beheading American civilian Nicholas Berg, who had been abducted and taken hostage in Iraq weeks earlier. The CIA claimed that the speaker on the tape wielding the knife that killed Berg was al-Zarqawi. The video opens with the title “Abu Musab al-Zarqawi slaughters an American”.
The speaker states that the murder was in retaliation for U.S. abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison (see Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal). Following the death of al-Zarqawi, CNN spoke with Nicholas’s father and long-time anti-war activist Michael Berg, who stated that al-Zarqawi’s killing would lead to further vengeance and was not a cause for rejoicing.
Zarqawi is also believed to have personally beheaded another American civilian, Owen Eugene Armstrong, in September 2004.
United States officials implicated Zarqawi in over 700 killings in Iraq during the invasion, mostly from bombings. Since March 2004, that number rose to the thousands.
In a January 2005 internet recording, Zarqawi condemned democracy as “the big American lie” and said participants in Iraq’s January 30 election were enemies of Islam. Zarqawi stated
“We have declared a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it… Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion [and that is] against the rule of Allah.”
On April 25, 2006, a video appearing to show Zarqawi surfaced. In the tape, the man says holy warriors are fighting on despite a three-year “crusade”. U.S. experts told the BBC they believed the recording was genuine. One part of the recording shows a man – who bears a strong resemblance to previous pictures of Zarqawi – sitting on the floor and addressing a group of masked men with an automatic rifle at his side.
“Your mujahideen sons were able to confront the most ferocious of crusader campaigns on a Muslim state,”
the man says. Addressing U.S. President George W. Bush, he says:
“Why don’t you tell people that your soldiers are committing suicide, taking drugs and hallucination pills to help them sleep?” “By Allah”, he says, “your dreams will be defeated by our blood and by our bodies. What is coming is even worse.”
The speaker in the video also reproaches the U.S. for its “arrogance and insolence” in rejecting a truce offered by “our prince and leader”, Osama Bin Laden. The United States Army aired an unedited tape of Zarqawi in May 2006 highlighting the fact that he did not know how to clear a stoppage on the stolen M249 Squad Automatic Weapon he was using.
Attempts to provoke U.S. attack on Iran
A document found in Zarqawi’s safe house indicates that the group was trying to provoke the U.S. to attack Iran in order to reinvigorate the insurgency in Iraq and to weaken American forces in Iraq.
“The question remains, how to draw the Americans into fighting a war against Iran? It is not known whether America is serious in its animosity towards Iran, because of the big support Iran is offering to America in its war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Hence, it is necessary first to exaggerate the Iranian danger and to convince America, and the West in general, of the real danger coming from Iran…”
The document then outlines six ways to incite war between the two nations . Some experts questioned the authenticity of the document.
Links to al-Qaeda
After the 2001 war in Afghanistan, Zarqawi appeared on a U.S. list of most-wanted al-Qaeda terrorists still at large in early 2002.
Before the invasion of Afghanistan, Zarqawi was the leader of an Islamic militant group with some connections to al-Qaeda. In an interview on Al-Majd TV, former al-Qaeda member Walid Khan, who was in Afghanistan fighting alongside Zarqawi’s group explained that from the day al-Zarqawi’s group arrived, there were disagreements, differences of opinion with bin Laden.
Saif al-Adel, later bin Laden’s military chief and an Egyptian who attempted to overthrow the Egyptian government, saw merit in Zarqawi’s overall objective of overthrowing the Jordanian monarchy. He intervened and smoothed the relations between Zarqawi and Al Qaeda leadership. It was agreed that Zarqawi would be given the funds to start up his training camp outside the Afghan city of Herat, near the Iranian border.
Zarqawi’s group continued to receive funding from Osama bin Laden and pursued “a largely distinct, if occasionally overlapping agenda”, according to The Washington Post. Counterterrorism experts told The Washington Post that while Zarqawi accepted al-Qaeda’s financial help to set up a training camp in Afghanistan he ran it independently and while bin Laden was planning September 11, Zarqawi was busy developing a plot to topple the Jordanian monarchy and attack Israel.
The Washington Post also reported that German Intelligence wiretaps found that in the fall of 2001 Zarqawi grew angry when his members were raising money in Germany for al-Qaeda’s local leadership. “If something should come from their side, simply do not accept it,” Zarqawi told one of his followers, according to a recorded conversation that was played at a trial of four alleged Zarqawi operatives in Düsseldorf.
In 2001, bin Laden repeatedly summoned al-Zarqawi from Herat to Kandahar, asking that he take an oath of allegiance to him. Al-Zarqawi refused; he didn’t want to take sides against the Northern Alliance, and doubted the fervor of bin Laden and the Taliban. When the United States launched its air war inside Afghanistan, on October 7, 2001, al-Zarqawi joined forces with al-Qaeda and the Taliban for the first time. He and his Jund al-Sham fought in and around Herat and Kandahar.
When Zarqawi finally did take the oath in October 2004, it was after eight months of negotiations.
When Shadi Abdellah was arrested in 2002, he cooperated with authorities, but suggested that al-Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden were not as closely linked as previously believed, in large part because al-Zarqawi disagreed with many of the sentiments put forward by Mahfouz Ould al-Walid for al-Qaeda.
Tenet also wrote in his book that Thirwat Shehata and Yussef Dardiri, “assessed by a senior al-Qa’ida detainee to be among the Egyptian Islamic Jihad’s best operational planners”, arrived in Baghdad in May 2002 and were engaged in “sending recruits to train in Zarqawi’s camps”.
Post–U.S. invasion of Iraq
During or shortly before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Zarqawi returned to Iraq, where he met with Bin Laden’s military chief, Saif al-Adel (Muhammad Ibrahim Makawi), who asked him to coordinate the entry of al-Qaeda operatives into Iraq through Syria.
Zarqawi readily agreed and by the fall of 2003 a steady flow of Arab Islamists were infiltrating Iraq via Syria. Although many of these foreign fighters were not members of Tawhid, they became more or less dependent on Zarqawi’s local contacts once they entered the unfamiliar country. Moreover, given Tawhid’s superior intelligence gathering capability, it made little sense for non-Tawhid operatives to plan and carry out attacks without coordinating with Zarqawi’s lieutenants.
Consequentially, Zarqawi came to be recognized as the regional “emir” of Islamist terrorists in Iraq without having sworn fealty to bin Laden.
U.S. intelligence intercepted a January 2004 letter from Zarqawi to al Qaeda and American officials made it public in February 2004. In the letter to bin Laden, Zarqawi wrote:
You, gracious brothers, are the leaders, guides, and symbolic figures of jihad and battle. We do not see ourselves as fit to challenge you, and we have never striven to achieve glory for ourselves. All that we hope is that we will be the spearhead, the enabling vanguard, and the bridge on which the Islamic nation crosses over to the victory that is promised and the tomorrow to which we aspire. This is our vision, and we have explained it. This is our path, and we have made it clear.
If you agree with us on it, if you adopt it as a program and road, and if you are convinced of the idea of fighting the sects of apostasy, we will be your readied soldiers, working under your banner, complying with your orders, and indeed swearing fealty to you publicly and in the news media, vexing the infidels and gladdening those who preach the oneness of Allah. On that day, the believers will rejoice in Allah’s victory. If things appear otherwise to you, we are brothers, and the disagreement will not spoil our friendship. This is a cause in which we are cooperating for the good and supporting jihad. Awaiting your response, may Allah preserve you as keys to good and reserves for Islam and its people.
In October 2004, a message on an Islamic Web site posted in the name of the spokesman of Zarqawi’s group announced that Zarqawi had sworn his network’s allegiance to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. The message stated:
Numerous messages were passed between ‘Abu Musab’ (Allah protect him) and the al-Qaeda brotherhood over the past eight months, establishing a dialogue between them. No sooner had the calls been cut off than Allah chose to restore them, and our most generous brothers in al-Qaeda came to understand the strategy of the Tawhid wal-Jihad organization in Iraq, the land of the two rivers and of the Caliphs, and their hearts warmed to its methods and overall mission.
Let it be known that al-Tawhid wal-Jihad pledges both its leaders and its soldiers to the mujahid commander, Sheikh ‘Osama bin Laden’ (in word and in deed) and to jihad for the sake of Allah until there is no more discord [among the ranks of Islam] and all of the religion turns toward Allah… By Allah, O sheikh of the mujahideen, if you bid us plunge into the ocean, we would follow you. If you ordered it so, we would obey. If you forbade us something, we would abide by your wishes. For what a fine commander you are to the armies of Islam, against the inveterate infidels and apostates!
On December 27, 2004, Al Jazeera broadcast an audiotape of bin Laden calling Zarqawi “the prince of al Qaeda in Iraq” and asked “all our organization brethren to listen to him and obey him in his good deeds.” Since that time, Zarqawi had referred to his own organization as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad.
In May 2007, President George W. Bush declassified a U.S. intelligence report that stated that bin Laden had enlisted Zarqawi to plan strikes inside the U.S., and warned that in January 2005 bin Laden had assigned Zarqawi to organize a cell inside Iraq that would be used to plan and carry out attacks against the U.S. “Bin Laden tasked the terrorist Zarqawi … with forming a cell to conduct terrorist attacks outside of Iraq,” Bush stated in a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy.
“Bin Laden emphasized that America should be Zarqawi’s No. 1 priority.”
Terrorism experts’ view on the alliance
According to experts, Zarqawi gave al-Qaeda a highly visible presence in Iraq at a time when its original leaders went into hiding or were killed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
In turn, al-Qaeda leaders were able to brand a new franchise in Iraq and claim they were at the forefront of the fight to expel U.S. forces. But this relationship was proven to be fragile as Zarqawi angered al-Qaeda leaders by focusing attacks on Iraqi Shias more often than U.S. military. In September 2005, U.S. intelligence officials said they had confiscated a long letter that al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, had written to Zarqawi, bluntly warning that Muslim public opinion was turning against him.
“A number of al-Qaeda figures were uncomfortable with the tactics he was using in Iraq … It was quite clear with Zarqawi that as far as the al-Qaeda core leadership goes, they couldn’t control the way in which their network affiliates operated.”
U.S. officials’ view of the alliance
In June 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld conceded that Zarqawi’s ties to Al Qaeda may have been much more ambiguous—and that he may have been more of a rival than a lieutenant to bin Laden. Zarqawi “may very well not have sworn allegiance to [bin Laden]”, Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon briefing.
“Maybe he disagrees with him on something, maybe because he wants to be ‘The Man’ himself and maybe for a reason that’s not known to me.” Rumsfeld added, “someone could legitimately say he’s not Al Qaeda.”
According to the Senate Report on Prewar Intelligence released in September 2006, “in April 2003 the CIA learned from a senior al-Qa’ida detainee that al-Zarqawi had rebuffed several efforts by bin Ladin to recruit him. The detainee claimed that al-Zarqawi had religious differences with bin Ladin and disagreed with bin Laden’s singular focus against the United States.
The CIA assessed in April 2003 that al-Zarqawi planned and directed independent terrorist operations without al Qaeda direction, but assessed that he ‘most likely contracts out his network’s services to al Qaeda in return for material and financial assistance from key al Qaeda facilitators.'”
In the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate, declassified in September 2006, it asserts, “Al-Qa’ida, now merged with Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s network, is exploiting the situation in Iraq to attract new recruits and donors and to maintain its leadership role.”
Links to Saddam Hussein
Colin Powell‘s U.N. presentation slide showing Al-Zarqawi’s global terrorist network
Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants. When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp. And this camp is located in northeastern Iraq. He traveled to Baghdad in May 2002 for medical treatment, staying in the capital of Iraq for two months while he recuperated to fight another day. During this stay, nearly two dozen extremists converged on Baghdad and established a base of operations there.
These Al Qaeda affiliates, based in Baghdad, now coordinate the movement of people, money and supplies into and throughout Iraq for his network, and they’ve now been operating freely in the capital for more than eight months. We asked a friendly security service to approach Baghdad about extraditing Zarqawi and providing information about him and his close associates. This service contacted Iraqi officials twice, and we passed details that should have made it easy to find Zarqawi. The network remains in Baghdad.
“A foreign government service asserted that the IIS (Iraqi Intelligence Service) knew where al-Zarqawi was located despite Baghdad’s claims that it could not find him.”
The Senate Report on Prewar Intelligence also stated:
“As indicated in Iraqi Support for Terrorism, the Iraqi regime was, at a minimum, aware of al-Zarqawi’s presence in Baghdad in 2002 because a foreign government service passed information regarding his whereabouts to Iraqi authorities in June 2002. Despite Iraq’s pervasive security apparatus and its receipt of detailed information about al-Zarqawi’s possible location, however, Iraqi Intelligence told the foreign government service it could not locate al-Zarqawi.”
A Jordanian security official told The Washington Post that documents recovered after the overthrow of Saddam show that Iraqi agents detained some of Zarqawi’s operatives but released them after questioning. He also told The Washington Post that the Iraqis warned the Zarqawi operatives that the Jordanians knew where they were.
The official also told The Washington Post,
“‘We sent many memos to Iraq during this time, asking them to identify his position, where he was, how he got weapons, how he smuggled them across the border,’ but Hussein’s government never responded.”
This claim was reiterated by Jordanian King Abdullah II in an interview with Al-Hayat. Abdullah revealed that Saddam Hussein had rejected repeated requests from Jordan to hand over al-Zarqawi. According to Abdullah,
“We had information that he entered Iraq from a neighboring country, where he lived and what he was doing. We informed the Iraqi authorities about all this detailed information we had, but they didn’t respond.”
Abdullah told the Al-Hayat that Jordan exerted “big efforts” with Saddam’s government to extradite al-Zarqawi, but added, “our demands that the former regime hand him over were in vain.”
One high-level Jordanian intelligence official told The Atlantic that al-Zarqawi, after leaving Afghanistan in December 2001, frequently traveled to the Sunni Triangle of Iraq where he expanded his network, recruited and trained new fighters, and set up bases, safe houses, and military training camps. He said, however,
“We know Zarqawi better than he knows himself. And I can assure you that he never had any links to Saddam.”
First of all, I don’t think the two ideologies go together, I’m sure the former Iraqi leadership saw no interest in contacting al-Zarqawi or al-Qaeda operatives. The mentality of al-Qaeda simply doesn’t go with the Ba’athist one. When he was in prison in Jordan with Shubaylat, Abu Mos’ab wouldn’t accept me, said Shubaylat, because I’m opposition, even if I’m a Muslim. How could he accept Saddam Hussein, a secular dictator?
A CIA report in late 2004 concluded that there was no evidence Saddam’s government was involved or even aware of this medical treatment, and found no conclusive evidence the regime had harbored Zarqawi. A U.S. official told Reuters that the report was a mix of new information and a look at some older information and did not make any final judgments or come to any definitive conclusions. “To suggest the case is closed on this would not be correct,” the official said.
“what is indisputable is that Zarqawi was operating out of Baghdad and was involved in a lot of bad activities.” Another U.S. official summarized the report as such: “The evidence is that Saddam never gave Zarqawi anything.”
According to the 2004 Senate Report on Prewar Intelligence, “The CIA provided four reports detailing the debriefings of Abu Zubaydah, a captured senior coordinator for al-Qaida responsible for training and recruiting. Abu Zubaydah said that he was not aware of a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida. He also said, however, that any relationship would be highly compartmented and went on to name al-Qaida members who he thought had good contacts with the Iraqis.
For instance, Abu Zubaydah indicated that he had heard that an important al-Qaida associate, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, and others had good relationships with Iraqi Intelligence.”
Sensitive reporting indicates senior terrorist planner and close al Qaeda associate al Zarqawi has had an operational alliance with Iraqi officials. As of October 2002, al Zarqawi maintained contacts with the IIS to procure weapons and explosives, including surface-to-air missiles from an IIS officer in Baghdad. According to sensitive reporting, al Zarqawi was setting up sleeper cells in Baghdad to be activated in case of a U.S. occupation of the city, suggesting his operational cooperation with the Iraqis may have deepened in recent months.
Such cooperation could include IIS provision of a secure operating bases [sic] and steady access to arms and explosives in preparation for a possible U.S. invasion. Al Zarqawi’s procurements from the Iraqis also could support al Qaeda operations against the U.S. or its allies elsewhere.
The memo was a collection of raw intelligence reports and drew no conclusions. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed to Newsweek that the “reports [in the memo] were old, uncorroborated and came from sources of unknown if not dubious credibility”.
The 2006 Senate Report on Prewar Intelligence concluded that Zarqawi was not a link between Saddam and al-Qaeda: “Postwar information indicates that Saddam Hussein attempted, unsuccessfully, to locate and capture al-Zarqawi and that the regime did not have a relationship with, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi.” The report also cited the debriefing of a “high-ranking Iraqi official” by the FBI. The official stated that a foreign government requested in October 2002 that the IIS locate five individuals suspected of involvement in the murder of Laurence Foley, which led to the arrest of Abu Yasim Sayyem in early 2003.
The official told the FBI that evidence of Sayyem’s ties to Zarqawi was compelling, and thus, he was “shocked” when Sayemm was ordered released by Saddam. The official stated it “was ludicrous to think that the IIS had any involvement with al-Qaeda or Zarqawi,” and suggested Saddam let Sayyem go because he “would participate in striking U.S. forces when they entered Iraq.”
In 2005, according to the Senate report, the CIA amended its 2004 report to conclude, “the regime did not have a relationship, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward Zarqawi and his associates.” (page 91–92) An intelligence official familiar with the CIA assessment also told Michael Isikoff of Newsweek magazine that the current draft of the report says that while Zarqawi did likely receive medical treatment in Baghdad in 2002, the report concludes,
“most evidence suggests Saddam Hussein did not provide Zarqawi safe haven before the war, … [but] it also recognizes that there are still unanswered questions and gaps in knowledge about the relationship.”
The Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office website translated a letter dated August 17, 2002 from an Iraqi intelligence official. The letter is part of the Operation Iraqi Freedom documents. The letter asks agents in the country to be on the lookout for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and another unnamed man. Pictures of both men were attached.
The letter issued the following 3 directives:
Instructing your sources to continue their surveillance of the above-mentioned individuals in your area of operations and inform us once you initiate such action.
Coordinate with Directorate 18 to verify the photographs of the above-mentioned with photos of the members of the Jordanian community within your area of operations.
Conduct a comprehensive survey of all tourist facilities (hotels, furnished apartments, and leased homes). Give this matter your utmost attention. Keep us informed.
The documents also contain responses to this request. One response, dated August 2002, states “Upon verifying the information through our sources and friends in the field as well as office (3), we found no information to confirm the presence of the above-mentioned in our area of operation. Please review, we suggest circulating the contents of this message.” Another response, also dated August 2002, states
“After closely examining the data and through our sources and friends in (SATTS: U R A) square, and in Al-Qa’im immigration office, and in Office (3), none of the mentioned individuals are documented to be present in our area of jurisdiction.”
“The letter seems to be coming from or going to Trebil, a town on the Iraqi-Jordanian border. Follow up on the presence of those subjects is ordered, as well as a comparison of their pictures with those of Jordanian subjects living in Iraq. (This may be referring to pictures of Abu Musaab al Zarqawi and another man on pages 4–6.)”
In his book At the Center of the Storm, George Tenet writes:
… by the spring and summer of 2002, more than a dozen al-Qa’ida-affiliated extremists converged on Baghdad, with apparently no harassment on the part of the Iraqi government. They found a comfortable and secure environment in which they moved people and supplies to support Zarqawi’s operations in northern Iraq.
According to Tenet, while Zarqawi did find a safe haven in Iraq and did supervise camps in northeastern Iraq run by the Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam,
“the intelligence did not show any Iraqi authority, direction, or control over any of the many specific terrorist acts carried out by al-Qa’ida.”
Influence or lack of
How much influence al-Zarqawi had in Iraq and after his death is disputed.
Writing in 2015, nine years after his death, an (anonymous) author in the New York Review of Books describes al-Zarqawi as having been responsible for “turning an insurgency against US troops” in Iraq “into a Shia-Sunni civil war”
.Washington Post reporter Joby Warrick argues that al-Zarqawi was the founder of “the group that became ISIS“. Among other things, Warrick believes al-Zarqawi expanded the already broad “parameters of violence” in Iraq and the Middle East.
He personally beheaded civilians on video; directed suicide bombs at targets that other jihadis considered off limits like the UN, NGOs, and Arab embassies; and struck Shia religious targets with the ultimately successfully goal of provoking a destabilizing Sunni-Shia civil war. Even Al Qaeda thought he was going too far, … but Zarqawi’s methods proved to have enduring traction long after his death in 2006.
While the US “troop surge” and “Awakening” movement left his movement “all but dead” in 2009, it survived and metastasized into ISIS according to author David Ignatius.
Doubts about his importance
Some months before and after his killing, several sources claimed that Zarqawi was variously a US “Boogeyman” and product of its war propaganda, the product of faulty US intelligence, a US or Israeli agent, did not really exist, was unlikely to be an important insurgent leader because he had no real leadership capabilities, and/or did not behead Nicholas Berg.
According to the Commonwealth Institute his notoriety was the product of U.S. war propaganda designed to promote the image of a demonic enemy figure to help justify continued U.S. military operations in Iraq, perhaps with the tacit support of jihadi elements who wished to use him as a propaganda tool or as a distraction.
In one report, the conservative newspaper Daily Telegraph described the claim that Zarqawi was the head of the “terrorist network” in Iraq as a “myth”. This report cited an unnamed U.S. military intelligence source to the effect that the Zarqawi leadership “myth” was initially caused by faulty intelligence, but was later accepted because it suited U.S. government political goals.
I believe he is fictitious. He is a knife or a pistol in the hands of the occupier. I believe that all three – the occupation, the takfir (i.e. the practice of declaring other Muslims to be heretics) supporters, and the Saddam supporters – stem from the same source, because the takfir supporters and the Saddam supporters are a weapon in the hands of America and it pins its crimes on them.
On April 10, 2006, The Washington Post reported that the U.S. military conducted a major propaganda offensive designed to exaggerate Zarqawi’s role in the Iraqi insurgency. Gen. Mark Kimmitt says of the propaganda campaign that there “was no attempt to manipulate the press”. In an internal briefing, Kimmitt is quoted as stating, “The Zarqawi PSYOP Program is the most successful information campaign to date.” The main goal of the propaganda campaign seems to have been to exacerbate a rift between insurgent forces in Iraq, but intelligence experts worried that it had actually enhanced Zarqawi’s influence.
Col. Derek Harvey, who served as a military intelligence officer in Iraq and then was one of the top officers handling Iraq intelligence issues on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned an Army meeting in 2004,
“Our own focus on Zarqawi has enlarged his caricature, if you will – made him more important than he really is, in some ways.”
While Pentagon spokespersons state unequivocally that PSYOPs may not be used to influence American citizens, there is little question that the information disseminated through the program has found its way into American media sources. The Washington Post also notes, “One briefing slide about U.S. ‘strategic communications’ in Iraq, prepared for Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, describes the ‘home audience’ as one of six major targets of the American side of the war.”
On July 4, 2006, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad Zalmay Khalilzad, in an interview with the BBC, said: “In terms of the level of violence, it (the death of al-Zarqawi) has not had any impact at this point… the level of violence is still quite high.” But Khalilzad maintained his view that the killing had though encouraged some insurgent groups to “reach out” and join government reconciliation talks; he believed that previously these groups were intimidated by Zarqawi’s presence.
On June 8, 2006, on the BBC’s Question Time program, the Respect Party MP George Galloway referred to al-Zarqawi as “a ‘Boogeyman‘, built up by the Americans to try and perpetrate the lie that the resistance in Iraq are by foreigners, and that the mass of the Iraqis are with the American and British occupation”. Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times supported this saying “several people who knew Mr. Zarqawi well, including former cellmates, voiced doubts about his ability to be an insurgent leader, or the leader of anything.”
In the July/August 2006 issue of The Atlantic, Mary Anne Weaver doubted that the figure who beheaded Nicholas Berg in the execution video was in fact al-Zarqawi.
In a story detailing her captivity in Iraq, Jill Carroll, a journalist for the Christian Science Monitor, casts doubt on al-Zarqawi’s alleged unimportance. She describes how one of her captors, who identified himself as Abdullah Rashid and leader of the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq, conveyed to her that:
“The Americans were constantly saying that the mujahideen in Iraq were led by foreigners… So, the Iraqi insurgents went to Zarqawi and insisted that an Iraqi be put in charge. But as I saw in coming weeks, Zarqawi remained the insurgents’ hero, and the most influential member of their council, whatever Nour/Rashid’s position. And it seemed to me, based on snatches of conversations, that two cell leaders under him – Abu Rasha and Abu Ahmed [al-Kuwaiti] – might also be on the council. At various times, I heard my captors discussing changes in their plans because of directives from the council and Zarqawi.”
Pre-war assassination opportunities
According to NBC News, the Pentagon had pushed to “take out” Zarqawi’s operation at least three times prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but had been vetoed by the National Security Council. The NSC reportedly made its decision in an effort to convince other countries to join the U.S. in a coalition against Iraq. “People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of pre-emption against terrorists,” said former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.
In May 2005, former CIA official Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s bin Laden unit for six years before resigning in 2004, corroborated this. Paraphrasing his remarks, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation stated Scheuer claimed, “the United States deliberately turned down several opportunities to kill terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in the lead-up to the Iraq war.” ABC added, “a plan to destroy Zarqawi’s training camp in Kurdistan was abandoned for diplomatic reasons.” Scheuer explained, “the reasons the intelligence service got for not shooting Zarqawi was simply that the President and the National Security Council decided it was more important not to give the Europeans the impression we were gunslingers” in an effort to win support for ousting Saddam Hussein.
This claim was also corroborated by CENTCOM’s Deputy Commander, Lieutenant GeneralMichael DeLong, in an interview with PBS on February 14, 2006. DeLong, however, claims that the reasons for abandoning the opportunity to take out Zarqawi’s camp was that the Pentagon feared that an attack would contaminate the area with chemical weapon materials:
“We almost took them out three months before the Iraq war started. We almost took that thing, but we were so concerned that the chemical cloud from there could devastate the region that we chose to take them by land rather than by smart weapons.”
“The question was whether to bomb the poisons lab in the summer of 2002. We held a series of NSC meetings on that topic… Colin [Powell] and Condi [Condoleezza Rice] felt a strike on the lab would create an international firestorm and disrupt our efforts to build a coalition to confront Saddam… I decided to continue on the diplomatic track.”
Reports of his death, detention and injuries
Claims of harm to Zarqawi changed over time. Early in 2002, there were unverified reports from Afghan Northern Alliance members that Zarqawi had been killed by a missile attack in Afghanistan. Many news sources repeated the claim. Later, Kurdish groups claimed that Zarqawi had not died in the missile strike, but had been severely injured, and went to Baghdad in 2002 to have his leg amputated.
On October 7, 2002, the day before Congress voted to give President George W. Bush authorization to invade Iraq, Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, that repeated as fact the claim that he had sought medical treatment in Baghdad. This was one of several of President Bush’s examples of ways Saddam Hussein had aided, funded, and harbored al-Qaeda. Powell repeated this claim in his February 2003 speech to the UN, urging a resolution for war, and it soon became “common knowledge” that Zarqawi had a prosthetic leg.
In 2004, Newsweek reported that some “senior U.S. military officials in Baghdad” had come to believe that he still had his original legs. Knight Ridder later reported that the leg amputation was something “officials now acknowledge was incorrect”.
When the video of the Berg beheading was released in 2004, credence was given to the claim that Zarqawi was alive and active. The man identified as Zarqawi in the video did not appear to have a prosthetic leg. Videos of Zarqawi aired in 2006 that clearly showed him with both legs intact.
When Zarqawi’s body was autopsied, “X-rays also showed a fracture of his right lower leg.”
Claims of death
A U.S. PSYOPleaflet disseminated in Iraq shows al-Zarqawi caught in a rat trap. Text:
“This is your future, Zarqawi”
In March 2004, an insurgent group in Iraq issued a statement saying that Zarqawi had been killed in April 2003. The statement said that he was unable to escape the missile attack because of his prosthetic leg. His followers claimed he was killed in a U.S. bombing raid in the north of Iraq.
The claim that Zarqawi had been killed in northern Iraq “at the beginning of the war”, and that subsequent use of his name was a useful myth, was repeated in September 2005 by Sheikh Jawad Al-Khalessi, a Shiite imam.
On May 24, 2005, it was reported on an Islamic website that a deputy would take command of Al-Qaeda while Zarqawi recovered from injuries sustained in an attack. Later that week the Iraqi government confirmed that Zarqawi had been wounded by U.S. forces, although the battalion did not realize it at the time. The extent of his injuries is not known, although some radical Islamic websites called for prayers for his health.
There are reports that a local hospital treated a man, suspected to be Zarqawi, with severe injuries. He was also said to have subsequently left Iraq for a neighbouring country, accompanied by two physicians. However, later that week the radical Islamic website retracted its report about his injuries and claimed that he was in fine health and was running the jihad operation.
In a September 16, 2005, article published by Le Monde, Sheikh Jawad Al-Kalesi claimed that al-Zarqawi was killed in the Kurdish northern region of Iraq at the beginning of the U.S.-led war on the country as he was meeting with members of the Kurdish Ansar al-Islam group affiliated to al-Qaeda. Al-Kalesi also claimed
“His family in Jordan even held a ceremony after his death.” He also claimed, “Zarqawi has been used as a ploy by the United States, as an excuse to continue the occupation” and saying, “It was a pretext so they don’t leave Iraq.
On November 20, 2005, some news sources reported that Zarqawi may have been killed in a coalition assault on a house in Mosul; five of those in the house were killed in the assault while the other three died through using ‘suicide belts‘ of explosives. United States and British soldiers searched the remains, with U.S. forces using DNA samples to identify the dead
However, none of those remains belonged to him.
Reportedly captured and released
According to a CNN report dated December 15, 2005, al-Zarqawi was captured by Iraqi forces sometime during 2004 and later released because his captors did not realize who he was. This claim was made by a Saudi suicide bomber, Ahmed Abdullah al-Shaiyah, who survived a failed suicide attempt to blow up the Jordanian mission in Baghdad in December. “Do you know what has happened to Zarqawi and where he is?” an Iraqi investigator asked Mr. Shaiyah.
He answered, “I don’t know, but I heard from some of my mujahadeen brothers that Iraqi police had captured Zarqawi in Fallujah.”
Mr. Shaiyah says he then heard that the police let the terrorist go because they had failed to recognize him. U.S. officials called the report “plausible” but refused to con
The joint task force (Task Force 145) had been tracking him for some time, and although there were some close calls, he had eluded them on many occasions. United States intelligence officials then received tips from Iraqi senior leaders from Zarqawi’s network that he and some of his associates were in the Baqubah area.
According to the book Task Force Black by Mark Urban, the intelligence was received from a senior AQI leader who the author Mark Bowden dubbed “Abu Haydr” who had been captured in Operation Larchwood 4.
The safehouse itself was watched for over six weeks before Zarqawi was observed entering the building by operators from Task Force 145. Jordanian intelligence reportedly helped to identify his location. The area was subsequently secured by Iraqi security forces, who were the first ground forces to arrive.
On June 8, 2006, coalition forces confirmed that Zarqawi’s body was identified by facial recognition, fingerprinting, known scars and tattoos.They also announced the death of one of his key lieutenants, spiritual adviser Sheik Abd-Al-Rahman.
Initially, the U.S. military reported that Zarqawi was killed directly in the attack. However, according to a statement made the following day by Major General William Caldwell of the U.S. Army, Zarqawi survived for a short time after the bombing and, after being placed on a stretcher, attempted to move and was restrained, after which he died from his injuries.
An Iraqi man, who claims to have arrived on the scene a few moments after the attack, said he saw U.S. troops beating up the badly wounded but still alive Zarqawi. In contradiction, Caldwell asserted that when U.S. troops found Zarqawi barely alive they tried to provide him with medical help, rejecting the allegations that he was beaten based on an autopsy performed. The account of the Iraqi witness has not been verified
All others in the house died immediately in the blasts. On June 12, 2006, it was reported that an autopsy performed by the U.S. military revealed that the cause of death to Zarqawi was a blast injury to the lungs but he took nearly an hour to die.
U.S. distributed photo of Zarqawi’s corpse
The U.S. government distributed an image of Zarqawi’s corpse as part of the press pack associated with the press conference. The release of the image has been criticised for being in questionable taste and for inadvertently creating an iconic image of Zarqawi that would be used to rally his supporters.
Reactions to dea
Prime Minister of Iraq Nuri al-Maliki commented on the death of Zarqawi by saying:
“Today, Zarqawi has been terminated. Every time a Zarqawi appears we will kill him. We will continue confronting whoever follows his path.”
United States President George W. Bush stated that through his every action Zarqawi sought to defeat America and its coalition partners by turning Iraq into a safe haven for al-Qaeda. Bush also stated, “Now Zarqawi has met his end and this violent man will never murder again.”
Zarqawi’s brother-in-law has since claimed that he was a martyr even though the family renounced Zarqawi and his actions in the aftermath of the Amman triple suicide bombing that killed at least 60 people.
The opinion of Iraqis on his death is mixed; some believe that it will promote peace between the warring factions, while others are convinced that his death will provoke his followers to a massive retaliation and cause more bombings and deaths in Iraq
Abu Abdulrahman al-Iraqi, the deputy of al-Zarqawi, released a statement to Islamist websites indicating that al-Qaeda in Iraq also confirmed Zarqawi’s death:
“We herald the martyrdom of our mujahed Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq … and we stress that this is an honor to our nation.”
In the statement, al-Iraqi vowed to continue the jihad in Ira
On June 16, 2006, Abu Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, the head of the Mujahideen Shura Council, which groups five Iraqi insurgent organizations including al-Qaida in Iraq, released an audio tape statement in which he described the death of al-Zarqawi as a “great loss”. He continued by stating that al-Zarqawi “will remain a symbol for all the mujahideen, who will take strength from his steadfastness”.
Counterterrorism officials have said that al-Zarqawi had become a key part of al-Qaeda’s marketing campaign and that al-Zarqawi served as a “worldwide jihadist rallying point and a fundraising icon”. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, called al-Zarqawi
“The terrorist celeb, if you will, … It is like selling for any organization. They are selling the success of Zarqawi in eluding capture in Iraq.”
On June 23, 2006, Al-Jazeera aired a video in which Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s No. 2 leader, states that Zarqawi was “a soldier, a hero, an imam and the prince of martyrs, [and his death] has defined the struggle between the crusaders and Islam in Iraq”.
On June 30, 2006, Osama bin Laden released an audio recording in which he stated,
“Our Islamic nation was surprised to find its knight, the lion of jihad, the man of determination and will, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed in a shameful American raid. We pray to Allah to bless him and accept him among the martyrs as he had hoped for.”
Bin Laden also defended al-Zarqawi, saying he had
“clear instructions” to focus on U.S.-led forces in Iraq but also “for those who … stood to fight on the side of the crusaders against the Muslims, then he should kill them whoever they are, regardless of their sect or tribe.”
Shortly after, he released another audio tape in which he stated,
“Our brothers, the mujahedeen in the al-Qaeda organization, have chosen the dear brother Abu Hamza al-Muhajer as their leader to succeed the Amir Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. I advise him to focus his fighting on the Americans and everyone who supports them and allies himself with them in their war on the people of Islam and Iraq”.
Alleged betrayal by al-Qaeda
A day before Zarqawi was killed, a U.S. strategic analysis site suggested that Zarqawi could have lost the trust of al-Qaeda due to his emphatic anti-Shia stance and the massacres of civilians allegedly committed in his name. Reports in The New York Times on June 8 treated the betrayal by at least one fellow al-Qaeda member as fact, stating that an individual close to Zarqawi disclosed the identity and location of Sheik Abd al-Rahman to Jordanian and American intelligence. Non-stop surveillance of Abd al-Rahman quickly led to Zarqawi.
The Associated Press quotes an unnamed Jordanian official as saying that the effort to find Zarqawi was successful partly due to information that Jordan obtained one month beforehand from a captured Zarqawi al-Qaeda operative named Ziad Khalaf Raja al-Karbouly.
In apparent contradiction to statements made earlier in the day by U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, an Iraqi spokesman said the US$25 million reward “will be honored”. Khalilzad, in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, had stated the bounty would not be paid because the decisive information leading to Zarqawi’s whereabouts had been supplied by an al-Qaeda in Iraq operative whose own complicity in violent acts would disqualify him from receiving payment.
Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican of Illinois who drafted the legislation specifying the Zarqawi reward, was quoted as saying contemporaneously that the Bush Administration planned to pay “some rewards” for Zarqawi. “I don’t have the specifics,” he stated.
“The administration is now working out who will get it and how much. As their appropriator who funds them, I asked them to let me know if they need more money to run the rewards program now that they are paying this out.”
Post-Zarqawi Iraq environment
Zarqawi’s death was seen a major coup for the U.S. government in terms of the political and propaganda stakes. However, unconfirmed rumors in early April 2006 suggested that Zarqawi had been demoted from a strategic or coordinating function to overseer of paramilitary/terrorist activities of his group and that Abdullah bin Rashed al-Baghdadi of the Mujahideen Shura Council succeeded Zarqawi in the former function. On June 15, 2006, the United States military officially identified Abu Ayyub al-Masri as the successor to Al-Qaeda in Iraq.
After Zarqawi’s demise in early June 2006 there was little or no immediately identifiable change in terms of the level of violence and attacks against U.S. and allied troops. In the immediate aftermath insurgency attacks averaged 90 a day, apparently some of the highest on record.
Four months after Zarqawi’s death, it was estimated that 374 coalition soldiers and 10,355 Iraqis had been killed. Several insurgency groups and heads of Sunni Muslim tribes also formed a coalition called the Mujahideen Shura Council.
By late 2007, violent and indiscriminate attacks directed by AQI against Iraqi civilians had severely damaged their image and caused the loss of support among the population, isolating the group. In a major blow to AQI, thousands of former Sunni militants that previously fought along with the group started to actively fight AQI and also work with the American and Iraqi forces, starting with the creation of the Anbar Awakening Council because of its Anbar origins. The group spread to all Sunni cities and communities and some Shiite areas and adopted the broader name Sons of Iraq. The Sons of Iraq was instrumental in giving tips to coalition forces about weapons caches and militants resulting in the destruction of over 2,500 weapons caches and over 800 militants being killed or captured.
In addition, the 30,000 strong U.S. troop surge supplied military planners with more manpower for operations targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq, The Mujahadeen Shura Council, Ansar Al-Sunnah and other terrorist groups. The resulting events led to dozens of high-level AQI leaders being captured or killed. Al-Qaeda seemed to have lost its foothold in Iraq and appeared to be severely crippled due to its lack of vast weapons caches, leaders, safe havens, and Iraqis willing to support them. Accordingly, the bounty issued for Abu Ayyub-al-Masri AKA Abu Hamza al-Muhajer was eventually cut from $5 million down to a mere $100,000 in April 2008.
On January 8 and January 28, 2008, Iraqi and U.S. forces launched Operation Phantom Phoenix and the Ninawa campaign (AKA the Mosul Campaign) killing and capturing over 4,600 militants, and locating and destroying over 3,000 weapons caches, effectively leaving AQI with one last major insurgent stronghold – Diyala. On July 29, 2008, Iraqi, U.S. and Sons Of Iraq forces launched Operation Augurs of Prosperity in the Diyala province and surrounding areas to clear AQI out of its last stronghold.
Two operations had already been launched in Diyala with mixed results, and this campaign was expected to face fierce resistance. The resulting operation left over 500 weapons caches destroyed and five militants killed; 483 militants were captured due to the lack of resistance from the insurgent forces. Twenty four high level AQI terrorists were killed or captured in the campaign.[
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Irish jihadist ‘Khalid Kelly’ blows himself up in Isil suicide bombing near Mosul
A high-profile Irish Islamist who was once arrested for threatening to kill President Barack Obama during a trip to Dublin has blown himself up in a suicide attack for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) outside Mosul, according to the jihadist group.
Terence Kelly, a Dubliner known as “Taliban Terry” or “Khalid Kelly”, was killed after he drove an armoured truck laden with explosives at an Iraqi militia group on Friday, Isil said in a statement.
The jihadist group released a picture of the bearded Kelly, who was in his late 40s, standing in front of a vehicle and clutching a Kalashnikov rifle. It referred to him by the nom de guerre Abu Osama Irelandi.
“Brother martyr Abu Osama Irelandi, may Allah accept his soul, attacked a group of animals from the Hashd [Shia militia] in the village of Ghzayel Al-Kabir,” the statement said.
Another picture purported to show the moment Kelly’s vehicle exploded in the village west of Mosul, Isil’s last stronghold inside Iraq.
“Someone explained it to me. And then it was very quick. I saw that God was the creator, the provider, the commander, and the legislator for mankind. It was all suddenly very clear. I felt freer than I had ever been, even though I was in prison.”
He was eventually released and came to Britain, where he became a high-profile Islamist who called for attacks on the UK and became close with Anjem Choudary, the agitator who was jailed earlier this year for supporting Isil.
A statement released by the group said:
“Brother martyr Abu Osama Irelandi, may Allah accept his soul, attacked a group of animals from the Shia militia in the village of Ghzayel al Kabir
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it was monitoring reports of Mr Kelly’s death and a spokesman said:
“The Department is aware of reports concerning an Irish citizen in Iraq and is seeking to clarify the situation.”
“downtown in a Saudi villa, not in one of the Western compounds. When I’d hear the call to prayer, I’d open the window and turn up the stereo in opposition to what I saw as an imposition.”
Although Kelly went to work in Saudi Arabia because the salary was tax free he soon found bigger money in making alcohol, which is a strictly forbidden activity in that country.
Kelly was subsequently caught and sent to jail in 2000, where an Afghan introduced him to Islam. Khalid Kelly, as he is now known, left prison a convert. Kelly recalls:
“I got really good at making drink. I had three stills in my house and then I got arrested one day with five cases of Johnny Walker in the back of my car. I was sent to prison for eight months. I lost everything. It was all confiscated. The prison was 150 people in a dormitory with a mosque at the end. I’d been inside for four weeks and was at my lowest point when I was given the Koran in English. Someone explained it to me. And then it was very quick. I saw that God was the creator, the provider, the commander, and the legislator for mankind. It was all suddenly very clear. I felt freer than I had ever been – even though I was in prison.”
Kelly has also said of this event:
“It just filled in all the gaps, you know? It was like the answer to everything I’d every wondered about. There was even a Captain Ali there at the prison, and he gave me a Koran. And I’ll always remember it because he wrapped it in a piece of newspaper, you know, because he didn’t have any wrapping paper. And he was so happy for me. He was nearly crying, the man.” He said, “‘I’m so happy you’ve come to the truth.
It will change your life.’ And indeed it did”, he says. Describing his journey from scepticism to belief, or as he called it “from darkness to light”, Kelly said, “the journey started with the illegal production of alcoholic drinks in Saudi Arabia whilst I was working as a nurse at the King Faisal hospital.” He went on to say: “Before Islam, I didn’t know the meaning of love. I used to be like other British young men, drinking and going out, but when I read the Quran in 2000, whilst in jail, I felt a huge surge of compassion and sympathy. I feel now that what led me to Islam was God’s mercy and sympathy. It’s something bigger than myself and I can’t explain it with words.”
In 2002 Kelly was deported to Britain where he allegedly soon began attending sermons by the radical preacher Omar Bakri Muhammad. Upon his return to Britain Kelly got a job working as a nurse at St Thomas’s Hospital, London. However, rumours started that he was a supporter of the Taliban and subsequently lost his job.
He became a member of the now disbanded hardline Islamic organisation Al-Mujaharoun, and became the leader of it in Ireland.
In March 2008 it was reported that Khalid Kelly is on the run. After the Danish cartoon controversy and subsequent arrests for having signs which said Kill those who insult the Prophet, Kelly fled the country and has been travelling the Muslim world looking for a place to bring his wife and two sons, Osama and the newborn Muhammed.
Living in Pakistan
In a newspaper interview in 2009, Khalid was reportedly living in the Swat Valley in Pakistan and was quoted during the interview as ready to travel to Afghanistan to fight against Coalition Forces :
“Next week, inshallah, I could be in Afghanistan fighting a British soldier.”
He returned to Dublin in April 2010, claiming to have been deported from an Eastern European country and to have lost his passport.
In May 2011 Kelly was arrested for threatening to assassinate Barack Obama. In an interview with the Sunday Mirror he said that al-Qaeda was likely to kill Obama on his upcoming trip to Ireland. He reportedly said he would like to do it himself, but was too well known. He stated
Personally I would feel happy if Obama was killed. How could I not feel happy when a big enemy of Islam is gone?
Kelly has been linked to and voiced support for the terrorist group, the self-proclaimed “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant“, and in June 2015 he was detained and questioned by detectives attached to the Garda Counter Terrorism International Unit (CTI) from Garda Headquarters’ Crime and Security Branch (CSB). He was later released without charge.
After many years living in the England he came back to Ireland and could be found on the weekend giving information out about islam at the GPO in Dublin .
I read this book in one sitting and to be honest the writing style and constant divergence from the main theme was a bit of distraction and at times tiring , but the subject matter is one I am very interested in and there was much to appreciate and learn from Anna’s journey.
Her online encounters with a senior ISIS recruiter and his attempts to groom her , with the ultimate aim of having her travel to Syria to becomes his wife and live in “ paradise “ , gives the reader an insight into the road to hell many young vulnerable and disillusioned European women ( and men) embark on and invariably come to regret.
Unfortunately for them few can escape and many end up being slaughtered by those that entice them to the Islamic “paradise” . Not that I have an ounce of sympathy for any that choose that path , for there lay demons and if you dance with the devil there can only ever be one outcome!
Karma always collects it debts!
Previously published as ‘In the Skin of a Jihadist’
Twenty year-old “Mélodie”, a recent convert to Islam, meets the leader of an ISIS brigade on Facebook. In 48 hours he has ‘fallen in love’ with her, calls her every hour, urges her to marry him, join him in Syria in a life of paradise – and join his jihad.
Anna Erelle is the undercover journalist behind “Melodie”. Created to investigate the powerful propaganda weapons of Islamic State, “Melodie” is soon sucked in by Bilel, right-hand man of the infamous Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. An Iraqi for whose capture the US government has promised $10 million, al-Baghdadi is described by Time Magazine as the most dangerous man in the world and by himself as the caliph of Islamic State. Bilel shows off his jeep, his guns, his expensive watch. He boasts about the people he has just killed.
With Bilel impatient for his future wife, “Melodie” embarks on her highly dangerous mission, which – at its ultimate stage – will go very wrong … Enticed into this lethal online world like hundreds of other young people, including many young British girls and boys, Erelle’s harrowing and gripping investigation helps us to understand the true face of terrorism.
Listen to me! I love you more than I’ve loved anyone. You should be here with me. I can’t stand to think of you in that corrupt country. I’ll protect you. I’ll shelter you from the world’s evils. When you come to live with me, you’ll see what a paradise me and my men are building. You’ll be amazed. Here, people care about each other. They respect each other. We’re one big family, and we’ve already made a place for you—everyone is waiting for you! You should see how happy the women are here. They used to be like you—lost. One of my friends’ wives has arranged a program for your arrival. After your shooting lessons, she’ll take you to a very beautiful store, the only one in the country that sells fine cloth. I’ll pay for everything. You’ll establish your own little world here with your new friends. I’m so excited for you to be here. Mélodie, my wife! Hurry up; I can’t wait.”
Mélodie stares into her computer screen, admiring the strong man eighteen years her senior. She loves him, even if she’s only ever seen him on Skype.
“Do you really love me?” Mélodie murmurs, her voice childish and frail.
“I love you for the sake of Allah. You are my treasure, and the Islamic State is your home. Brick by brick, we’ll build a better world, a place where kafirs* won’t be allowed, and we’ll carve a name for ourselves in history. I’ve found a huge apartment for you! If you bring friends, I’ll find an even bigger one. You’ll take care of orphans and the wounded during the day, while I’m fighting. We’ll spend our evenings together . . . insha’Allah*.”
Mélodie feels loved. She feels useful. She’s been looking for purpose in her life: now she’s found it.
I was frustrated that Friday night as I left the editorial offices of a magazine where I do freelance work. The paper had received a letter from a lawyer forbidding me from publishing an article I’d written about a young female jihadist. I had just spent two days in Belgium with Samira, the girl’s mother. Her daughter ran away to Syria a year before to join Tarik, the man of her life and a fanatic devoted to the Islamic State’s cause. Naïve and blind with emotion, Leila* wanted to live with her great love. A bullet to the heart ended his twenty years and one spring. Samira was hopeful when she learned of the death of the man she’d been forced to consider her son-in-law. With Tarik dead, Samira saw no reason for her daughter to stay in the tragically war-torn country, but Leila was clear: she now belonged to that sacred land and wanted to do her part in the fight to create a religious state in the Middle East. With or without her husband. Tarik had been an emir,* which meant his widow was well taken care of. People respected her, and Leila asked her mother, “Why should I go back?”
Local news sources had picked up the story and begun comparing the eighteen-year-old jihadist to the black widow, a prominent figure in the world of international terrorism and the wife of the man who assassinated Ahmad Shah Massoud.* Samira’s love for her daughter was great, and her response to the situation swift, but she was coming up against an immense challenge. Not only did she have to find a way to repatriate Leila to Belgium; she also had to prove to the authorities that her daughter was living in one of the most dangerous countries on earth for humanitarian reasons. Otherwise, Leila would be considered a threat to domestic security and sent to prison, before potentially being banned from setting foot in her own country.
That was when Samira’s and my paths crossed. Journalism can lead a person to many things, sometimes to the aid of a distressed mother. Samira was beside herself, and she’d turned to Dimitri Bontinck, a former member of the Belgian Special Forces who famously managed to repatriate his own son from Syria. Dimitri is a source of hope for all these European families who wake up one morning to the harsh realization that even those they’d least suspect, even their own teenagers, could be jihadists. After his personal experience, Dimitri became a tireless crusader, volunteering for virtual suicide missions to save other youths—or at least dig up concrete information to help their families. Aware of the risks that Leila faced for being branded the “new black widow,” he’d asked me to meet her mother. I’m a journalist, and though I’m keenly interested in geopolitics, I’m not an expert. However, I’ve always been drawn to erratic behavior, whatever the cause—religion, nationality, social milieu. I’m fascinated by what motivates people to make fatal decisions. Sometimes it’s drugs. Sometimes it’s crime or marginality. I’ve also done a lot of work on radical Islam. Back then, I’d been studying European jihadists in the Islamic State for about a year. There were many similarities between the successive cases, but I was interested in understanding what it was that made each individual decide to give up everything and brave death for this cause.
At the time, Dimitri and I were writing a book about the nine horrifying months he spent looking for his son. We spoke with many European families facing the same ordeal. I tried to interview as many people as I could. I saw the impact of digital propaganda on God’s newly minted soldiers, but I still didn’t understand what drove them. Why did they leave everything—their past, their families? Over the course of a few weeks, they threw away their lives, convinced they’d never look back. Ever. Walking through their bedrooms, often preserved by their parents, always gave me chills. I was peering into other people’s intimate spaces, which had become shrines to forgotten lives, as if their teenage relics were the last proof of their existences. Leila’s existence seemed frozen in time. Pictures of her “normal” life abounded. There she was in a tank top, wearing makeup, at friends’ houses, or in a café. These idealized images were a far cry from the new Leila with her burqa and her Kalashnikov.
After listening to Samira’s story, I continued my investigation, which confirmed some of what she’d told me, and I wrote the article. Yet another piece on a subject that had become increasingly ubiquitous over the past several months. But it wouldn’t be published. Leila was furious when her mother mentioned our interview, and threatened to burn all bridges. “If you talk about me to the press,” her panicked mother tearfully reported her words, “not only will I never come back, you’ll never hear from me again. You won’t know if I’m dead or alive.” After that, I couldn’t convince the mother to let me publish. In absolute terms, I didn’t need her permission to do it—the story was already public knowledge in Belgium. But what good would it do? Sadly, each week brimmed with new stories like this one. I was all-too familiar with the determination of these young people who believed they’d found faith. All day, they were bombarded with messages to forget their “depraved” families and open their arms to their new brothers. “Infidels,” even if called “mom” or “dad,” were seen as obstacles in their spiritual journey.
It wasn’t Leila’s fault. She honestly believed she was protecting her mother by telling her how to behave. Alone at home, I got worked up over the methods of propaganda used by Islamists. Searching for videos of Tarik alive, I came across an incalculable number of propaganda films on YouTube. I muted the sound whenever the language wasn’t French or English. The monotonous chants went to my head, deadening my mind. I couldn’t listen to them anymore. Still, the sounds were more tolerable than the images of torture and charred bodies laid out in the sun. Wandering through jihadist Francophone networks online, I was continually shocked by the contrast between sound and image. The juvenile laughter accompanying these horrific scenes made the videos all the more unbearable. I’d noticed an uptick in activity over the past year. Many teenage jihadists have a second Facebook account, registered under a fake identity. They act normal around their families, but once alone in their bedrooms, they travel to their virtual world, which they take for reality. Some call for murder, though without really understanding the impact or significance of their messages. Others encourage jihad. Girls share links about Gazan children, underscoring the suffering of the very young. The girls’ pseudonyms all begin with Umm, “mom” in Arabic.
Social networks contain precious information for those who know how to look. That is why, like many other journalists, I had a fictional account I’d created several years before. I used it to keep an eye on current events. I rarely posted on the account, and when I did it was very brief, and only directed at my list of approximately one hundred “friends” from around the world. My name on this account was Mélodie. My followers weren’t using their real identities, either. Avatars ensure anonymity, which allows users to express themselves more freely and accounts for the growing number of young people attracted to Islamist propaganda. New technologies have of course bred new forms of proselytism. I spent hours scanning users’ public descriptions of gruesome or simply outrageous plans. Happily, not all of the teenagers writing about criminal activity become murderers. For some, Jihadism 2.0 is a fad. For others, it represents the first step on their path to radicalism.
I spent that Friday night in April on my couch, stewing over the gag order on my article and flicking from account to account. Suddenly I came across a video of a French jihadist who looked to be about thirty-five. The video showed him taking inventory of the items inside his SUV. It was like a bad parody of the farcical news show Les Guignols de l’info. I smiled wryly at the deplorable images. I wasn’t proud of myself, but I couldn’t help watching; it was absurd. The man in the video wore military fatigues and called himself Abu Bilel. He claimed to be in Syria. The scene around him, a true no-man’s-land, didn’t contradict him. He proudly brandished his CB radio, which looked like it came straight out of the 1970s. He used it to communicate with other militants when he couldn’t reach them through telephone networks. In reality, it crackled more than it communicated. In the back of his car, his bulletproof vest sat beside one of his machine guns, an Uzi—a historic gun originally manufactured for the Israeli military. He presented a series of weapons, including “an M16 stolen from a marine in Iraq”—I burst out laughing. The factoid, I would later learn, was entirely plausible. I would also discover that Abu Bilel was not as stupid as he seemed. In fact, he had spent the past fifteen years waging jihad all over the world. But for the moment I knew nothing of the bellicose man on my screen proudly unveiling the contents of his glove box—a thick stack of Syrian pounds, candy, a knife. He removed his reflective Ray-Bans, revealing darkly lined black eyes.
I knew that Afghani soldiers used eyeliner to keep their eyes from tearing up when exposed to smoke. Still, seeing a terrorist with eyes made up like my own was surprising, to say the least. Abu Bilel spoke perfect French, with what sounded to me like a very slight Algerian accent. He smiled broadly in an expression of self-satisfaction as he beckoned viewers and called for hijrah.*
I shared his video. I usually kept a low profile on my account, but I occasionally imitated my digital peers in order to carve a place for myself in their world. I didn’t preach or encourage the cause. I simply posted links to articles relating strikes by Bashar al-Assad’s army or videos like this one. My profile picture was a cartoon image of Princess Jasmine from the Disney movie Aladdin. For my cover photo, I uploaded a popular slogan I’d seen online: “We’ll do to you as you do unto us.” I tended to change my profile location depending on whatever story I was presently researching. Now I claimed to be in Toulouse, a city in southwestern France. Over the past five years, many stories had led me there, notably, the shooting carried out by Mohammed Merah in 2012. The housing project where he’d lived in the northeastern outskirts of Toulouse was an endless mine of information. It was also an important hub for the traffic of hashish.
I was actually in Paris, casting around for a fresh angle on the departures to Syria. Many of these tragic cases resembled one another, and I suspected that readers were saturated with information. In addition, the nightmarish situation in Syria made it difficult to analyze. Each week, I worked with editors, trying to find new angles. Each week, we arrived at the same conclusion: would-be jihadists came from all sorts of social backgrounds and religions; they turned to radical Islam after a single failure or a lifetime of not fitting in; then they left for Syria to join one of the many Islamist gangs that have been proliferating there. Yes, but despite the similarities, after having spent so much time working on these issues, I had grown attached to individual families. I cared about their children and their stories, even if I wasn’t likely to meet them. And I had actually met some “teens” drawn to jihadism while I was working on stories. Today, when I see them again, they tell me they want to go there. There? “What’s there for you?” I ask them, exasperated, “Except death and the opportunity to become cannon fodder?” The response is almost always the same: “You don’t understand, Anna. You’re thinking with your head, not with your heart.” I exhaust myself coming up with dubious comparisons to historic events. Germany, a country rich in culture, fell into Hitler’s hands during the last century. Or the black-and-white view of the world according to communism. Or the generation of 1970s intellectuals who extolled the virtues of Maoist thought, insisting that truth resided in the Little Red Book. But my cyber interlocutors poke fun at my historical references, pointing out that red and green are very different colors. However, I’m not talking about the Koran, which has nothing to do with fanatic ideology.
In 2014, journalism was no longer a respected profession. And when one worked on “societal” issues, it was out of passion. If only I could write about this topic in a new way, one that avoided treating individuals as part of a succession of similar cases. I wanted to investigate the roots of “digital jihadism” and get to the bottom of an evil phenomenon affecting more and more families—of all religious backgrounds. To dissect how kids here fell into the trap of propaganda, and to grasp the paradox of soldiers there who spent their days torturing, stealing, raping, killing, and being killed, and their nights staring into their computers and bragging about their “exploits” with the maturity of video-game-obsessed preteens.
Deep in reflection, I was feeling discouraged but unwilling to give up, when my computer alerted me to three messages sent to “Mélodie’s” private inbox from . . . Abu Bilel. It was surreal. There I was, at ten o’clock on a Friday night in spring, sitting on my sofa in my one-bedroom Parisian apartment, wondering how to continue my investigation on European teenagers tempted by Islamic extremism, when a French terrorist based in Syria all of a sudden started writing me. I was speechless. At that moment, the only thing of which I was certain was that I hadn’t imagined starting my weekend like this.
The net is slowly closing on IS and the news today that the Battle for Mosul has began could spell the beginning of the end of these Islamic Monsters and their twisted , wicked take Islam and Sharia Law ,which in my opinion has no place in the 21s Century anyway. See Shari Law
An Iraqi operation to recapture the city of Mosul, the last stronghold of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in the country, has started.
Artillery began firing on the city early on Monday, in a long-awaited assault from Kurdish Peshmerga, Iraqi government and allied forces.
Tanks are now moving towards the city, which has been held by IS since 2014.
The UN has expressed “extreme concern” for the safety of up to 1.5 million people in the area.
The BBC’s Orla Guerin, who is with Kurdish forces east of Mosul, says tanks are advancing on the city, kicking up clouds of dust.
As the operation began, one Kurdish general said: “If I am killed today I will die happy because I have done something for my people.”
Islamic State lost over a quarter of its territory in Iraq and Syria
The Islamic State (ISIS) has lost more than a quarter of its territory in Syria and Iraq. According to defence analyst Information Handling Services (IHS), the group’s reach has been reduced by 28 per cent since January 2015.
IHS reported that ISIS-held territory fell from 78,000 km2 to 65,500 km2 during the first nine months of this year. However, the extremist group’s losses have decreased since last-July.
This change in tempo coincided with the launch of the Turkey-baked Euphrates Shield Operation and reduced Russian airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria.
“Last September, President Putin said it was Russia’s mission to fight international terrorism and specifically the Islamic State,” Alex Kokcharov, principal Russia analyst at IHS, said. “Our data suggests that is not the case.”
According to Kokcharov, Moscow’s top priority is to preserve President Assad’s government through military support. Putin seeks to “transform the Syrian civil war from a multi-party conflict into a binary one between the Syrian government and jihadist groups like the Islamic State; thereby undermining the case for providing international support to the opposition.”
While ISIS appears to have a short reprieve, they continue to loose strategic territory. In August, ISIS militants lost the border pocket of Manbij to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). In February, the extremist group was expelled from strategic areas in Hasakah Governorate by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and allied SDF fighters.
The Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army have recaptured dozens of villages and towns from ISIS over the past several months.
Located some 400 km (250 mi) north of Baghdad, the original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has grown to encompass substantial areas on both the “Left Coast” (east side) and the “Right Coast” (west side) as the two banks are described in the local language.
At the start of the 21st century, the majority of Mosul’s population was Arab with Arameans, Armenian, Turkmen, Kurdish, Yazidi, Shabaki and other minorities. The city’s population grew rapidly around the turn of the millennium and by 2004 was estimated to be 1,846,500. An estimated half million persons fled Mosul in the second half of 2014, and while some returned, more fled in 2015 as ISIL violence in the city worsened.
Historically, important products of the area include Mosul marble and oil.
The city of Mosul is home to the University of Mosul and its renowned Medical College, which together was one of the largest educational and research centres in Iraq and the Middle East. The University has since been closed but at the choice of the Islamic State’s leadership in Mosul, the Medical College remains open but barely functional.
Until 2014 the city was a historic centre for the Syriac orthodox church of the indigenous Arameans, containing the tombs of several Old Testament prophets such as Jonah which was destroyed by the Islamic State occupation army in July 2014.
The name of the city is first mentioned by Xenophon in his expeditionary logs in Achaemenid Assyria (Athura) of 401 BC, during the reign of the Persian Achaemenid dynasty in this region. There, he notes a small Assyrian town of “Mépsila” (Ancient Greek: Μέψιλα) on the Tigris somewhere about where modern Mosul is today (Anabasis, III.iv.10). It may be safer to identify Xenophon’s Mépsila with the site of Iski Mosul, or “Old Mosul”, about 30 km (19 mi) north of modern Mosul, where six centuries after Xenophon’s report, the SasanianPersian center of Budh-Ardhashīr was built. Be that as it may, the name Mepsila is doubtless the root for the modern name.
In its current Arabic form and spelling, the term Mosul, or rather “Mawsil”, stands for the “linking point” – or loosely, the Junction City, in Arabic. Mosul should not be confused with the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh which is located across the Tigris from Mosul on the eastern bank, at the famed archaeological mound of Kuyunjik (Turkoman for “sheep’s hill”). This area is known today as the town of Nebi Yunus (“prophet Jonah“) and is populated largely by Kurds, which makes it the only fully-Kurdish neighborhood in Mosul. The site contains the tomb of the Biblical Jonah, as he lived and died there, in the then capital of ancient Assyria. Today, this entire area has been absorbed into the Mosul metropolitan area. The indigenous [[Arameans] still refer to the entire city of Mosul as Nineveh (or rather, Ninweh).
The area in which Mosul lies was an integral part of Assyria from as early as the 25th century BC, and after the Akkadian Empire (2335–2154 BC) and Neo-Sumerian Empire it again became a continuous part of Assyria proper from circa 2050 BC through to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire between 612–599 BC.
Mosul later succeeded Nineveh as the Tigris bridgehead of the road that linked Assyria and Anatolia with the short lived Median Empire and succeeding Achaemenid Empire (546–332 BC) where it was a part of the geo-political province of Athura (Assyria).
It became part of the Seleucid Empire after Alexander’s conquests in 332 BC. While little is known of the city from the Hellenistic period, Mosul likely belonged to the Seleucid satrapy of Syria (the Greek term for Assyria), which was conquered by the Parthian Empire circa 150 BC where it once more became a part of Athura.
The city changed hands once again with the rise of Sassanid Persia in 225 AD and became a part of Assuristan (Sassanid Persian for Assyria). Christianity was present among the indigenous Assyrian people in Mosul as early as the 1st century. It became an episcopal seat of the Assyrian Church of the East in the 6th century.
Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, “Siege of Mosul in 1261–63”, Jami’ al-tawarikh, Bibliothèque Nationale de France.
In the late 9th century control over the city was seized by the Turkish dynasts Ishaq ibn Kundajiq and his son Muhammad, but in 893 Mosul came once again under the direct control of the Abbasid Caliphate. In the early 10th century Mosul came under the control of the native Arab Hamdanid dynasty. From Mosul, the Hamdanids under Abdallah ibn Hamdan and his son Nasir al-Dawla expanded their control over the Jazira for several decades, first as governors of the Abbassids and later as de facto independent rulers. A century later they were supplanted by the Uqaylids.
Mosul was conquered by the Seljuks in the 11th century. After a period under semi-independent atabeg such as Mawdud, in 1127 it became the centre of power of the Zengid dynasty. Saladin besieged the city unsuccessfully in 1182 but finally gained control of it in 1186. In the 13th century it was captured by the Mongols led by Hulegu, but was spared the usual destruction since its governor, Badr al-Din Luʾluʾ, helped the Khan in his following campaigns in Syria. After the Mongol defeat in the Battle of Ain Jalut against the Mamluks, Badr al-Din’s son sided with the latter; this led to the destruction of the city, which later regained some importance but never recovered its original splendor. Mosul was thenceforth ruled by the Mongol Ilkhanid and Jalayrid dynasties, and escaped Tamerlan‘s destructions.
During 1165 Benjamin of Tudela passed through Mosul; in his papers he wrote that he found a small Jewish community estimated as 7000 people in Mosul, the community was led by rebbi Zakhi (זכאי) presumably connected to the King David dynasty. In 1288–1289, the Exilarch was in Mosul and signed a supporting paper for Maimonides. In the early 16th century Mosul was under the Turkmen federation of the Ak Koyunlu, but in 1508 it was conquered by the Persian Safawids.
Ottomans: 1535 to 1918
In 1535, OttomanSultanSuleyman the Magnificentadded Mosul to his empire by capturing it from his archrivals — Safavid Persia. Thenceforth Mosul was governed by a pasha. Mosul was celebrated for its line of walls, comprising seven gates with large towers, a renowned hospital (maristan) and a covered market (qaysariyya), and was also famous for its fabrics and flourishing trades.
Although Mesopotamia had been conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1533, gains which were confirmed by the Peace of Amasya (1555) until the reconquest of Baghdad in 1638, and the resulting treaty of the year after, Ottoman control over Mesopotamia was not decisive,and the city of Mosul was considered “still a mere fortress, important for its strategic position as an offensive platform for Ottoman campaigns into Iraq, as well as a defensive stronghold and (staging post) guarding the approaches to Anatolia and to the Syrian coast. Then with the Ottoman reconquest of Baghdad (1638), the liwa’ of Mosul became an independent wilaya.”:202 After the Peace of Amasya, the Safavids recaptured most of Mesopotamia one more time during the reign of king Abbas I (r. 1588-1629). Amongst the newly appointed Safavid governors of Mesopotamia during those years, was Qasem Sultan Afshar, who was appointed governor of Mosul in 1622.
Despite being a part of the Ottoman Empire, during the four centuries of Ottoman rule Mosul was considered “the most independent district” within the Middle East, following the Roman model of indirect rule through local notables.:203–4 “Mosuli culture developed less along Ottoman–Turkish lines than along Iraqi–Arab lines; and Turkish, the official language of the State, was certainly not the dominant language in the province.”:203
In line with its status as a politically stable trade route between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf the city developed considerably during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Similar to the development of the Mamluk dynasty in Baghdad, during this time “the Jalili family was establishing itself as the undisputed master of Mosul”, and “helping to connect Mosul with a pre-Ottoman, pre-Turcoman, pre-Mongol, Arab cultural heritage which was to put the town on its way to recapturing some of the prestige and prominence it had enjoyed under the golden reign of Badr ad-Din Lu’lu’.”203
Along with the al-Umari and Tasin al-Mufti families, the Jalilis formed an “urban-based small and medium gentry and a new landed elite”, which proceeded to displace the control of previous rural tribes. Such families proceed to establish themselves through private enterprise, solidifying their influence and assets through rents on land and taxes on urban and rural manufacturing.
As well as elected officials, the social architecture of Mosul was highly influenced by the Dominican fathers who arrived in Mosul in 1750, sent by Pope Benedict XIV (Mosul had a large Christian population, predominantly Assyrians).They were followed by the Dominican nuns in 1873. They established a number of schools, health clinics, a printing press and an orphanage. The nuns also established workshops to teach girls sewing and embroidery. A congregation of Dominican sisters, founded in the 19th century, still had its motherhouse in Mosul by the early 21st century. Over 120 Assyrian Iraqi Sisters belonged to this congregation.
In the nineteenth century the Ottoman government started to reclaim central control over its outlying provinces. Their aim was to “restore Ottoman law, and rejuvenate the military” as well as reviving “a secure tax base for the government”.:24–26 In order to reestablish rule in 1834 the Sultan abolished public elections for the position of governor, and began “neutraliz[ing] local families such as the Jalilis and their class.”:28–29 and appointing new, non-Maslawi governors directly. In line with its reintegration within central government rule, Mosul was required to conform to new Ottoman reform legislation, including the standardization of tariff rates, the consolidation of internal taxes and the integration of the administrative apparatus with the central government.:26
This process started in 1834 with the appointment of Bayraktar Mehmet Pasha, who was to rule Mosul for the next four years. After the reign of Bayraktar Mehmet Pasha, the Ottoman government (wishing still to restrain the influence of powerful local families) appointed a series of governors in rapid succession, ruling “for only a brief period before being sent somewhere else to govern, making it impossible for any of them to achieve a substantial local power base.”:29 Mosul’s importance as a trading center declined after the opening of the Suez canal, which enabled goods to travel to and from India by sea rather than by land across Iraq and through Mosul.
A coffee house in Mosul, 1914.
Mosul remained under Ottoman control until 1918 when it was taken by the British, with a brief break in 1623 when Persia seized the city, and was the capital of Mosul Vilayet one of the three vilayets (provinces) of Ottoman Iraq.
The city’s fortunes revived with the discovery of oil in the area, from the late 1920s onward. It became a nexus for the movement of oil via truck and pipeline to both Turkey and Syria. Qyuarrah Refinery was built within about an hour’s drive from the city and was used to process tar for road-building projects. It was damaged but not destroyed during the Iran–Iraq War.
The opening of the University of Mosul in 1967 enabled the education of many in the city and surrounding areas.
Although this prevented Saddam‘s forces from mounting large-scale military operations again in the region, it did not stop the regime from implementing a steady policy of “Arabisation” by which the demography of some areas of Nineveh Governorate were gradually changed. Despite the program Mosul and its surrounding towns and villages remained home to a mixture of Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens, Shabaks, a few Jews, and isolated populations of Yazidis, Mandeans, Kawliya and Circassians. Saddam was able to garrison portions of the 5th Army within the city of Mosul, had Mosul International Airport under military control, and recruited heavily from the city for his military’s officer corps; this may have been due to the fact that most of the officers and generals of the Iraqi Army were from Mosul long before the Saddam regime era.
Coalition Invasion in 2003 to 2014
Saddam Hussein’s sons Qusay and Uday were killed in a gun battle in Mosul on July 22, 2003
When the 2003 invasion of Iraq was being planned, the United States had originally intended to base troops in Turkey and mount a thrust into northern Iraq to capture Mosul. However, the Turkish parliament refused to grant permission for the operation. When the Iraq War did break out in March 2003, US military activity in the area was confined to strategic bombing with airdroppedspecial forces operating in the vicinity. Mosul fell on April 11, 2003, when the Iraqi Army 5th Corps, loyal to Saddam, abandoned the city and eventually surrendered, two days after the fall of Baghdad. US Army Special Forces with Kurdish fighters quickly took civil control of the city. Thereafter began widespread looting before an agreement was reached to cede overall control to US forces.
On July 22, 2003, Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday Hussein and Qusay Hussein, were killed in a gunbattle with Coalition forces in Mosul after a failed attempt at their apprehension. The city also served as the operational base for the US Army‘s 101st Airborne Division during the occupational phase of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. During its tenure, the 101st Airborne Division was able to extensively survey the city and, advised by the 431st Civil Affairs Battalion, non-governmental organizations, and the people of Mosul, began reconstruction work by employing the people of Mosul in the areas of security, electricity, local governance, drinking water, wastewater, trash disposal, roads, bridges, and environmental concerns.
Other US Army units to have occupied the city include the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 172nd Stryker Brigade, the 3rd Brigade-2nd Infantry Division, 18th Engineer Brigade (Combat), Alpha Company 14th Engineer Battalion-555th Combat Engineer Brigade, 1st Brigade-25th Infantry Division, the 511th Military Police Company, the 812th Military Police Company and company-size units from Reserve components, an element of the 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, and the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion which covered the areas north of the Green Line.
On June 24, 2004, a coordinated series of car-bombs killed 62 people, many of them policemen.
The memorial that stands outside the entrance to the Dining Hall on FOB Marez where the December 21, 2004 suicide attack occurred.
On December 21, 2004, fourteen US soldiers, four American employees of Halliburton, and four Iraqi soldiers were killed in a suicide attack on a dining hall at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Marez next to the main US military airfield at Mosul. The Pentagon reported that 72 other personnel were injured in the attack carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest and the uniform of the Iraqi security services. The Islamist group Army of Ansar al-Sunna (partly evolved from Ansar al-Islam) declared responsibility for the attack in an Internet statement.
U.S. Army soldiers patrol the streets of Mosul, January 2005
In December 2007, Iraq reopened Mosul International Airport. An Iraqi Airways flight carried 152 Hajj pilgrims to Baghdad, the first commercial flight since US forces declared a no-fly zone in 1993, although further commercial flight remained prohibited. On January 23, 2008, an explosion in an apartment building killed 36 people. The following day, a suicide bomber dressed as a police officer assassinated the local police chief, Brig. Gen. Salah Mohammed al-Jubouri, the director of police for Ninevah province, as he toured the site of the blast.
In May 2008, a military offensive of the Ninawa campaign was launched by US-backed Iraqi Army Forces led by Maj. Gen. Riyadh Jalal Tawfiq, the commander of military operations in Mosul, in the hope of bringing back stability and security to the city. Though the representatives of Mosul in the Iraqi Parliament, the intellectuals of the city, and other concerned humanitarian groups agreed on the pressing need for a solution to the unbearable conditions of the city, they still believed that the solution was merely political and administrative. They also questioned whether such a large scale military offensive would spare the lives of innocent people.
All these factors deprived the city of its historical, scientific, and intellectual foundations in the last 4 years, when many scientists, professors, academics, doctors, health professionals, engineers, lawyers, journalists, religious clergy (both Muslims and Christians), historians, as well as professionals and artists in all walks of life, were either killed or forced to leave the city under the threat of being shot, exactly as happened elsewhere in Iraq in the years following 2003.
In 2008, many Assyrian Christians (about 12,000) fled the city following a wave of murders and threats against their community. The murder of a dozen Assyrians, threats that others would be murdered unless they converted to Islam and the destruction of their houses sparked a rapid exodus of the Christian population. Some families crossed the borders to Syria and Turkey while others were given shelter in churches and monasteries. Accusations were exchanged between Sunni fundamentalists and some Kurdish groups for being behind this new exodus. For the time being the motivation of these acts is unclear, but some claims linked it to the imminent provincial elections which took place in January 2009, and the related Assyrian Christians’ demands for broader representation in the provincial councils.[
On June 10, 2014, Mosul was occupied by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Troop shortages and infighting among top officers and Iraqi political leaders played into Islamic State’s hands and fueled panic that led to the city’s abandonment. Kurdish intelligence had been warned by a reliable source in early 2014 that Mosul would be attacked by ISIL and ex-Baathists (and had informed the US and UK); however, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Defence Minister turned down repeated offers of help from the peshmerga.
Half a million people escaped on foot or by car in the next 2 days. ISIL acquired three divisions’ worth of up-to-date American arms and munitions—including M1129 Stryker 120-mm mortars and at least 700 armoured Humvee vehicles from the then fleeing, or since massacred, Iraqi army. Many residents initially welcomed ISIL and according to a member of the UK Defence Select Committee Mosul “fell because the people living there were fed up with the sectarianism of the Shia dominated Iraqi government.”
On 21 January 2015, the US began coordinating airstrikes with a Kurdish-launched offensive, to help them begin the planned operation to retake the city of Mosul.
Once home to 70,000 Arameans (Syriac) Christians there are possibly none left today in Mosul, any that do remain are forced to pay a tax for remaining Christian, and live under the constant threat of violence. The indigenous Arameans who have a history in the region dating back over 4,000 years suffered their Christian churches and monasteries being vandalised and burned down,their ancient heritage sites dating back to the Iron Age destroyed, their homes and possessions stolen by ISIL, and ultimatums to convert to Islam, leave their ancient homelands, or be murdered.
During the ISIS occupation of Mosul, phone lines have been cut by ISIL and cell phone towers and internet access destroyed.The residents of the city have been de facto prisoners, forbidden to leave the city unless they post with ISIL a significant collateral of family members, personal wealth and property. They may then leave the city upon paying a significant “departure tax” on a three-day pass (for a higher fee they can surrender their home, pay the fee and leave for good) and if those with a three-day pass fail to return in that time their assets will be seized and family will be killed.
Most female Yazidis from Mosul and the greater Mosul region (Nineveh) are imprisoned and occasionally many are slaughtered because of their resistance to being sold as sex slaves. The Islamic State occupiers have murdered or driven out most minority groups and converted some Yazidi males and Christians to Islam. Women are required to cover their bodies from head to foot in a strict variant of Sharia rule and men are required to fully grow their beards and hair as does the members of the Islamic State. Life in Mosul is one of violent oppression where people suspected of activism against the occupiers, resistance activities, homosexuality, promiscuity or adultery are brutally and summarily tortured and murdered.
The ISIS governor of Mosul, Alian Natiq Mabroush was killed on 18 March 2016 along with ten other jihadist leaders in a U.S. airstrike.
During the occupation residents have fought back against ISIS. In one notable incident they were able to kill five ISIS militants and destroy two of their vehicles.
Women must be accompanied by a male guardian and wear clothing that covers their body completely including gloves for the hands, niqab for the head and khimar for the full coverage of the body from shoulders to feet.
According to Canadian-based NGO “The RINJ Foundation” which operates medical clinics in Mosul, rape cases in the city prove a pattern of genocide and will lead to a conviction of genocide against the Islamic State, in the International Criminal Court, a permanent international tribunal to prosecute individuals for war-time rape, genocide, crimes against humanity, and aggression.
The Islamic State was in August 2015 reported to be selling captured women and girls to sex slave traders.
Persecution of religious and ethnic minorities and destruction of cultural sites
ISIL issued an edict expelling (in effect ethnically cleansing) the remaining predominantly ethnic Assyrian and Armenian Christian Mosul citizens, after the Christians failed to attend a meeting to discuss their future status. According to Duraid Hikmat, an expert on minority relationships and resident of Mosul, the Christians were fearful to attend. Emboldened ISIL authorities systematically destroyed and vandalised Abrahamic cultural artifacts such as the cross from St. Ephrem’s Cathedral, the tomb of Jonah, and a statue of the Virgin Mary. ISIL militants destroyed and pillaged the Tomb of Seth in Mosul. Artifacts within the tomb were removed to an unknown location.
Students from Muslim minorities have been abducted.
According to a UN report ISIL forces are persecuting ethnic groups in and near Mosul. The Assyrians, Kurds, Armenians, Yazidis, Turcoman, Mandeans and Shabaks are victims of unprovoked religiously motivated murders, assaults, theft, kidnappings and the destruction of their cultural sites.
Mosque of the Prophet Yunus or Younis (Jonah): On one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh ruins, used to rise the Mosque (an Assyrian Church year of Prophet Younis “Biblical Jonah“. Jonah the son of Amittai, from the 8th century BC, is believed to be buried here, where King Esarhaddon of Assyria had once built a palace. It was one of the most important mosques in Mosul and one of the few historic mosques that are found on the east side of the city. On July 24, 2014, the building was destroyed by explosives set by forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Mosque of the Prophet Jerjis (Georges): The mosque is believed to be the burial place of Prophet Jerjis. Built of marble with shen reliefs and renovated last in 1393 AD it was mentioned by the explorer Ibn Jubair in the 12th century AD, and is believed also to embrace the tomb of Al-Hur bin Yousif.
Mashad Yahya Abul Kassem: Built in the 13th century it was on the right bank of the Tigris and was known for its conical dome, decorative brickwork and calligraphy engraved in Mosul blue marble.
Mosul library: Including the Sunni Muslim library, the library of the 265-year-old Latin Church and Monastery of the Dominican Fathers and the Mosul Museum Library. Among the 112,709 books and manuscripts thought lost are a collection of Iraqi newspapers dating from the early 20th century, as well as maps, books and collections from the Ottoman period; some were registered on a UNESCO rarities list. The library was ransacked and destroyed by explosives on 25 February 2015.
Turkish diplomats and consular staff were detained for over 100 days.
Scores of people have been executed without fair trial. Civilians living in Mosul are not permitted to leave ISIS-controlled areas. ISIS has executed several civilians that were trying to flee Mosul.
The urban guerrilla warfare groups may be called the Nabi Yunus Brigade after the Nabi Yunus mosque, or the Kataeb al-Mosul (Mosul Brigade). The brigade claims to have killed ISIL members with sniper fire. In the countryside around Mosul, Kurdish and Assyrianmilitia have also taken up arms to resist ISIL oppression.
During the 20th century, Mosul city had been indicative of the mingling ethnic and religious cultures of Iraq. There used to be a SunniArab majority in urban areas, such as downtown Mosul west of the Tigris; across the Tigris and further north in the suburban areas, thousands of Arameans, Kurds, Turkmens, Shabaks, Yazidis and Armenians made up the rest of Mosul’s population. Shabaks were concentrated on the eastern outskirts of the city.
A church in Mosul in about 1850
Mosul had a Jewish population. Like their counterparts elsewhere in Iraq, most left in 1950–51. Most Iraqi Jews have moved to Israel, and some to the United States. In 2003, during the Iraq War, a rabbi in the American army found an abandoned, dilapidated synagogue in Mosul dating back to the 13th century
Sally Jones, who left the UK to join the extremist group of ISIS, has threatened to blow herself up after her husband was killed in a drone strike in Syria’s Raqqa.
Jones, 47, is a former punk rocker, originally from Kent. She has converted to Islam and has been radicalized recently through direct contact with terrorist groups online.
Quoting a Muslim extremist woman who killed herself along with scores of Russian soldiers in a truck bombing in 2000, Jones has expressed herself on the social media that she could be about to become a “black widow” suicide bomber.
The term “Black Widows” refers to a group of Chechen Muslim women whose husbands were killed by the Russian forces in Chechnya.
She moved to Syria with her 10-year-old son in 2013 and joined ISIS after being brainwashed.
“I know what I’m doing. Paradise has a price and I hope this will…
The plight of the Yazidi people of Northern Iraq and Syria has drifted in and out of the public consciousness over the past few years , as these followers of the ancient religion Yazidism – have been pursued and brutalised by the mad men of Islamic State and their deluded followers.
Their men folk have been killed and women systematically raped and force to act as ” Sex Slaves” to fighters of IS and they have been forced into exile from their ancestral lands in Northern Iraq . Over the past few weeks and months mass graves have been uncovered and the true horror of the persecution of the Yazidis people is yet to be told.