Tag Archives: Baghdadi

ISIS declares Sinai as the new destination for young fighters

Posted on in Egypt, ISIS title_rule

3  December- The Islamic State of Iraq and Levant and the Sham(ISIS) are conducting a marketing strategy which recommends the Sinai as a destination for young militant recruits. The move comes after Sinai-based terrorist group Ansar Beit al Maqdis (Ansar Jerusalem), swore allegiance to ISIS and its leader, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi on 10 November. Soon thereafter, Ansar Beit al Maqdis began to refer to itself as “the Islamic State’s province in the Sinai”. ISIS has envisioned a caliphate stretching from Iraq to the Mediterranean. While ISIS does not have any actual control in the Sinai, the announcement is an attempt to marginalise other militants, perhaps to convince them to pledge allegiance to Baghdadi as well. ISIS supporters are calling on fighters globally to help Baghdadi’s organization build up its presence in the Sinai even further.

ISIS has made use of the Al Battar Media Establishment and the Media Front in Support of the Islamic State, two radicalised publishing establishments that deliver propaganda through social media. Each has posted a six-page article on Twitter written by a fighter known as “Abu Musab al Gharib”, who argues that the establishment of the Islamic State’s province in the Sinai will lead to greater unification of ISIS groups across the Middle East and North Africa. In November, ISIS gained total administrative control over Derna in the Eastern Province of Libya, and has set up training facilities in the mountainous regions in order to train North African fighters. By creating a unified front, Gharib ominously states, it will become easier for the jihadists to advance on Jerusalem and engage in the “liquidating” of the Jews in Egypt, Golan, Jordan, and Lebanon.

ISIS’s expansion has increased already existing tensions with other militant organisations. Al Qaeda has appeared to be at odds with the group and has competed for militants in “recruitment drives”, even opening a branch in Southeast Asia. Baghdadi and ISIS claim that their “caliphate” has usurped the authority of terrorist organisations in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. However the most organised and strong among these groups have not given over to Baghdadi. However despite the hindrance of competing terrorist organisations, reports indicate that ISIS’s campaign has been successful. Foreign fighters from the Levant, North Africa, Yemen, and elsewhere have travelled to the Sinai for training and other purposes.

Worryingly, the Sinai group appears to be increasingly active. Over the last weekend of November, Ansar Beit al Maqdis, under their new moniker, claimed to have killed an American oil worker. On Sunday, the group published an image on Twitter of a passport and two identification cards belonging to William Henderson, a 58-year-old employee of the Apache Corporation and Qarun Petroluem Co. Henderson was thought to have been killed in a carjacking incident in August.

It is uncertain whether Ansar Beit al Maqdis was actually responsible for the killing or just claiming it; the US State department is still investigating Henderson’s death and the US Embassy in Cairo has not disclosed any information. However the claim raises international concern that Sinai based radicals may begin to expand their targets beyond Egyptian military and security forces, or may even begin seeking Westerners for kidnap for ransom, or to send a visible political message.

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New video released by ISIS leader

Posted on in Iraq, Syria, United States title_rule

13 November– A seventeen-minute video released by extremist group ISIS today features a message from their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In the video, the so called ‘caliph’ issued a call to his supporters to “erupt volcanoes of jihad.” The recording has been qualified as “authentic and recent” by counterterrorism consultancy groups. The video was shared across jihadist websites comes days after social media was ablaze with rumours that Baghdadi had been injured or killed in a coalition led air-strike. It is unknown when the video was recorded, but it does make reference to the Egyptian militant group Ansar Beit al Maqdis, a Sinai based group that has been responsible for targeting Egyptian security forces since 2013. In recent months, an Ansar Beit al Maqdis spokesman stated that the group was receiving advice from ISIS; the group officially pledged allegiance to Baghdadi in October. Baghdadi’s message says, “O soldiers of the Islamic State, continue to harvest the soldiers. Erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere. Light the Earth with fire.” Baghdadi also directed his attention to the US-led coalition bombing campaigns over Iraq and Syria. Calling the campaigns unsuccessful, Baghdadi said, “America and its allies are terrified, weak, and powerless,” and adding that ISIS fighters would “never abandon fighting…They will be triumphant, even if only one man of them is left.” Baghdadi also announced that the “caliphate” he created over the summer would expand across the Arab world, and called on supporters of ISIS to conduct attacks in Saudi Arabia, targeting ruling leaders and Shiites. Baghdadi described Saudi leaders as “the head of the snake.” As a measure of the video’s newness, Baghdadi makes mention of US President Barack Obama’s announcement that the US would deploy an additional 1,500 troops to Iraq. Obama’s decision was announced after the air strike on Mosul that sparked the rumours of Bagdadi’s injuries. In recent days, there have been additional pledges of allegiance to Baghdadi from militant groups in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen. Just prior to the video’s release, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel testified before a House Armed Services Committee hearing about the new war. “Since I testified before this committee two months ago, our campaign against ISIL has made progress. ISIL’s advance in parts of Iraq has stalled, and in some cases been reversed, by Iraqi, Kurdish and tribal forces supported by U.S. and coalition airstrikes.” Hagel stated that the war against ISIS will intensify: “As Iraqi forces build strength, the tempo and intensity of our coalition’s air campaign will accelerate in tandem.”

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ISIS leader believed injured, is there ISIS after Baghdadi?

Posted on in Iraq, Syria title_rule

11 November– Last week, airstrikes conducted by the anti-ISIS coalition targeted an assembly of the group’s leaders in Mosul. Reports have emerged that the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was among those in attendance. Iraq’s defence ministry reported that Baghdadi had been injured in the strike, and that his deputy, Abu-Muslim al-Turkmani, was killed. Rumours have circulated that the ISIS “caliph” was either grievously injured or killed. ISIS has not refuted the claim; while copycat ISIS sites claim that Baghdadi was not present, there has been no word from official ISIS channels as to the whereabouts or health of Baghdadi.

Baghdadi oversaw operations that gained ISIS a large swath of territory in Iraq and Syria earlier this year. In June, the leader declared the newly controlled land a Sunni Islamic caliphate, and declared himself the caliph. Baghdadi has scholarly knowledge of Islam, and claims he has ascendency from the Prophet Muhammed.

This self-declaration, particularly based on a bloodline, is in conflict with the premise of Sunni Islam. At the time of Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 AD, many followers believed that his successor should be determined by a community of Muslims. However, a small faction believed that the successor should be a member of his family, favouring Ali, the prophet’s son-in-law. To this day, Sunnis favour consensus appointment of leaders, and Shia’s familial ascendency.

In claiming his right to become caliph based on his bloodline, Baghdadi has dismissed an important tenet of Sunni beliefs, compensating for this only by agreeing that his successor would be appointed. Further, it is unknown whether his claim to the bloodline is real; in the Arab world, it is not uncommon for documents to be falsified to suggest that a family is descended from Prophet Mohammed; it is considered a point of pride among many.

Those joining ISIS blindly follow Baghdadi despite the conflicting nature of his actions. He is perceived as charismatic and convincing, with credentials both academic and relational. Baghdadi has become a symbolic figure as much as a leader, tying together both the actions and ideologies of his followers.

In the event of Baghdadi’s death, the question arises as to what would become of ISIS. Analysts do not believe that a sufficient replacement exists among the group’s ranks. It is unknown whether Baghdadi has selected a successor from among his high-ranking leaders. Among the likely successors is Omar Shishani, a former sergeant for the Georgian army who is now a commander for ISIS. It is widely believed that Shishani is responsible for planning the military operations which led to the rapid gain of territory in Iraq over the summer.  Another prosepect is believed to be Shaker Abu Waheeb, who escaped from an Iraqi prison in Tikrit in 2012, and is now an ISIS field commander in the Anbar province.

While both candidates have worked toward seeing Baghdadi’s mission to fruition, neither have the same scholarly credentials, charisma, or bloodline as Baghdadi. It is expected that under their leadership, ISIS would be unlikely to continue with the same momentum or devotion. Further, as Baghdadi’s successor will be determined by consensus, the group could break into factions, weakening the entire entity.

It is suspected that successful targeting of ISIS leadership and controlled resources, including oil refineries, will result in the eventual dissolution of the caliphate. As ISIS weakens, so too could its hold on the territory it currently controls, allowing government forces and opposition fighters an opportunity to retake confiscated lands. In this event, fewer domestic and foreign fighters will seek to join the ranks, and existing membership will either return to their native nations or attempt to join other organisations.


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