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Mark Caserta: Nation desperate in fight against terrorism

8 Jul

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Mark Caserta: Free State Patriot Editor

7.8.16

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There are too many major issues facing our nation, both domestically and internationally, for me to speculate which raises the most concern.

And frankly, the question is ambiguous to the point we should expect our nation’s leaders to be able to strategically address multiple issues simultaneously without compromising resources or victory.

However, capable execution at the executive level requires strong leadership, predisposed at fulfilling duty and obligation to the American people, with a servant’s heart and a lion’s will. And this president is dangerously wanting in this regard.

However, all things considered, survival is paramount. So, in my mind, the threat of radical Islamic terrorism poses the most imminent threat to the nation and now my neighbor.

Obama’s sympathetic decorum toward the Muslim faith has emboldened Islamic jihadists to bring the fight to our shores – and people are dying.

Team Obama continues to demonstrate a lack of conviction in standing against our enemy’s aggression and incredibly still does not have a plan to defeat ISIS or even understand their motivation.

For a case in point, look at Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who just last week told the world how she feels we should address terrorism.

“The good in this world far outweighs the evil,” Lynch said during a press conference in Orlando on Tuesday. “Our common humanity transcends our differences … our most effective response to terror and to hatred is compassion, it’s unity, and it’s love.”

So, is Lynch proposing we show compassion and love to the barbarous individuals who are burning, beheading and slaughtering innocent people?

It takes one “evil” person, amid hundreds of “good” people, to inflict death and destruction. But while her statement is both nave and foolish, it does embody the Obama narrative which indiscriminately coddles the Islamic faith.

But I believe we’re now dangerously close to a point of no return regarding domestic Islamic terrorism.

Multiple news sources, including a February 2015 “Breitbart” column by Edwin Mora, have reported FBI Director James Comey warning Americans that his agency is investigating suspected ISIS supporters residing in all 50 states.

“We have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states,” said Comey, adding, “This isn’t a New York phenomenon or a Washington phenomenon. This is all 50 states and in ways that are very hard to see.”

In Mora’s column, Comey describes the radicalization message being used in the U.S. via social media.

“Troubled soul, come to the caliphate, you will live a life of glory, these are the apocalyptic end times, you will find a life of meaning here, fighting for our so-called caliphate. And if you can’t come, kill somebody where you are.”

Understand, if ISIS is successful at establishing domestic terrorist cells in every state of the union, we could be facing a coordinated attack of immense proportion. And nothing short of martial law could be our remaining course of action, leaving our nation forever changed.

Our nation is in desperate need of competent leadership committed to protecting life over legacy.

And we need it now.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: American lives overrule political correctness

17 Jun

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Mark Caserta: Free State Patriot editor

6.17.16

San Bern

Simply put, political correctness and a liberal misrepresentation of Islamophobia in our nation are costing lives.

Last week we sustained the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history. An Islamic gunman, wielding an assault-style weapon and handgun, reportedly opened fire on hundreds of innocent people killing dozens and injuring many more.

While authorities are investigating whether the attack was an act of domestic or international terror, there is little doubt the shooter was influenced by his radical Islamic roots. CNN reported the afternoon following the attack that the attacker called 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS and mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers, according to a U.S. official.

Shortly following the attack, a friend asked me, “Mark, what do you think Obama will call this attack?”

Of course, my friend was alluding to Obama’s prior shameful reference to “workplace violence” as in the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, or an act of violence committed by a “lone gunman,” as in the shooting deaths of four Marines in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2015.

“Anything but an attack from radical Islam,” I replied.

And true to form, following the attack, multiple news agencies including USA Today, reported President Obama calling the mass shooting in Orlando “an act of terror” and “an act of hate.”

No mention of Islam.

Interestingly, however, while the president made no mention of the shooter’s Islamic background, he was sure to identify the victims as being part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender culture.

I wonder how long before he blames the assault rifle and/or conservative “homophobe mentality” for the brutal attack.

But liberal libel and intellectual dishonesty aren’t going to protect our families from the threat of Islamic terrorism. Obama’s persistent refusal to admit innocent blood is being shed in the name of Allah should be troubling to all Americans.

And we all should be reminded, Hillary Clinton plans to carry on Obama’s failed Islamic foreign policy if elected.

It’s naive and otherwise blatantly ignorant to believe that simply refusing to call these extremists “Islamic terrorists” is going to save lives or in any way help fortify our relationship with Muslims around the world.

In fact, quite the opposite is happening. Our enemy is emboldened and prepared to bring the fight within the borders of the United States, as it was in Orlando.

To make matters worse, the president seems determined to exacerbate the problem by bringing thousands of un-vetted Syrian refuges to the U.S. Obama’s own FBI director James Comey told a House Committee on Homeland Security in 2015 that the federal government simply does not have the resources to conduct thorough background checks on all of the 10,000 Syrian refugees and exclude ISIS penetration.

America needs leadership willing to deliver a message of “shock and awe” to radical Islamic extremists around the world. Obama has proven he isn’t even willing to rattle his saber against Islamic terrorists, much less defeat them.

And we have no need of a president who values protecting the tenets of Islam over protecting the lives of Americans.

American lives matter.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: America is primary target for jihadists

1 Apr

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Mark Caserta: Free State Patriot Editor

4.1.16

More than once last week, I heard the analogy “Nero played while Rome burned” to describe the antics of President Obama in the wake of the brutal Islamic terrorist attack in Brussels, Belgium.

Following the attack, despite promptings to return from Cuba to the United States in a presidential display of leadership and support for the Belgium people, Obama chose to stay and attend an exhibition baseball game hours after the attack. The following evening he chose to dance the tango and sip champagne at a state dinner with his wife, Michelle.

Reportedly, at least 31 people were killed and hundreds injured in the attack.

In January 2014, Obama likened ISIS to the “J.V.” team.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a J.V. team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama told David Remnick of The New Yorker.

In a February 2015 interview with Vox’s Exra Klein and Matthew Yglesias, Obama charged the media with “absolutely” overstating the threat of “terrorism” compared to the threat of “climate change.”

During the exchange, Obama was asked “if the media sometimes overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism” as opposed to the problem of climate change.

“What’s the famous saying about local newscasts, right? If it bleeds, it leads, right?” Obama said. “You show crime stories and you show fires, because that’s what folks watch, and it’s all about ratings.”

Obama said stories relative to climate change just aren’t “sexy” enough for the media.

Nearly a year-and-a-half after the United States and its allies began confronting the Islamic State, Obama still didn’t have a strategy to defeat them. A June 2015 New York Times column written by Julie Davis and Michael Shear reported Obama acknowledging the fact at a news conference following the G7 Summit in Germany.

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“We don’t have, yet, a complete strategy, because it requires commitments on the part of Iraqis as well,” Mr. Obama said. “The details are not worked out.”

In February 2015, FBI Director James Comey warned that his agency was investigating suspected supporters of ISIS “in various stages of radicalizing” in every state across the U.S.

Failed leadership and an anemic response to the threat are enabling the return of the Islamic Caliphate and the rise of ISIS. Innocent people around the world are paying the price with their lives.

We know America is a primary target for radical jihadists. One has to wonder when a coordinated array of ISIS attacks will begin in the U.S.

And what our president is doing to prevent it.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: US must ramp up campaign against ISIS

20 Jun

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Mark Caserta: Free State Patriot editor

Jun. 18, 2015 @ 12:01 AM

The world has now sustained months of unrelenting atrocities by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). We’ve witnessed barbaric beheadings, victims burned alive and a strategic cleansing of Christians refusing to embrace the Muslim religion. Yet, the president of the United States still lacks a strategy to defeat them.

Last week, in a news conference following the Group of 7 summit meeting in Germany, Obama admitted to the world that “we don’t have, yet, a complete strategy” for addressing the threat posed by ISIS. He claims that after nearly a year and a half of the United States and its allies grappling with this group of Islamic terrorists, “the details are not worked out.”

The president’s failure to recognize ISIS as a grave threat early on certainly hampered strategies to squelch their advances. Some may recall that in January 2014 Obama compared ISIS to a “junior varsity basketball team,” playing down the strengths of ISIS, compared with Al Qaeda.

“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a J.V. team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Mr. Obama told David Remnick of The New Yorker. That same month, ISIS seized Fallujah, a city in Anbar Province, Iraq, and parts of Ramadi, the province’s capital.

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A few months later, as the military prowess of the group became known, the president was questioned about his strategy for addressing the threat that he dramatically understated. Yet he still lacked urgency.

The president has been clear as to what his strategy won’t be!

“I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq,” Obama told reporters. “American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no military solution to the larger crisis there.”

So, the president claims he can defeat ISIS with coalition air power. But a recent Wall Street Journal article reveals the Obama coalition’s air campaign against ISIS pales in comparison to strategic air campaigns waged by presidents since the end of the Cold War, which were deemed successful.

During the 43-day Desert Storm air campaign against Saddam Hussein’s forces in 1991, coalition planes flew 48,224 strike sorties, or roughly 1,100 a day. 12 years later, the 31-day Iraqi Freedom campaign averaged more than 800 sorties a day. But the Obama “campaign” against ISIS, now approaching nine months, has only averaged about seven sorties a day! With ISIS now in control of an area around 50,000 square miles, it’s easy to see why these efforts haven’t been effective.

If indeed, Obama plans to decimate ISIS with coalition air power, he should take the lead in increasing the number of strikes commensurate with prior successful air campaigns.

And despite how much we dislike the thought, we must have sufficient ground troops to facilitate coordinated surgical strikes against the enemy.

Protecting America must take precedent over protecting Obama’s legacy.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Islamic terrorism looms on our American soil

14 May

ISIS IS HERE

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Mark Caserta, Free State Patriot Editor

May. 14, 2015 @ 12:01 AM

Last September, the Islamic group of terrorists known as ISIS called for a wave of random attacks to begin in the United States. Emboldened by a “weak at the knees” Obama administration, it was now time to advance their threat of terror into the most powerful nation in the West. There would be no greater victory than to die advancing the cause of the caliphate in America.

At the time, a spokesperson for the group specifically called for lone-wolf attacks and provided instructions on how to attack U.S. citizens. “Rig the roads with explosives for them. Attack their bases. Raid their homes. Cut off their heads. Do not let them feel secure. Hunt them wherever they may be. Turn their worldly life into fear and fire. Remove their families from their homes and thereafter blow up their homes.”

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Since then, ISIS has leveraged social media for the recruitment and training of individuals willing and able to carry out these attacks in the name of “Allah.” ISIS’ morbidly alluring propaganda has included “shock and awe” videos of beheadings and victims being burned alive.

And up until now, the U.S. had yet to experience the fruition of such threats on our soil.

But earlier this month, outside a “Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest” sponsored by a free speech movement in Garland, Texas, two ISIS soldiers opened fire on a group of participants. Armed with assault rifles and body armor, the gunmen, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, wounded a security guard before a policeman, armed with only a handgun, shot and killed them.

In a broadcast on its official radio channel, ISIS claimed the gunmen were affiliated with their terror organization. Calling the men “Al Khilafa soldiers,” the ISIS radio announcer also referred to Simpson and Soofi as the group’s “brothers.” The announcement included this warning to infidels:

“We say to the defenders of the cross, the U.S., that future attacks are going to be harsher and worse. The Islamic State soldiers will inflict harm on you with the grace of God. The future is just around the corner.”

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A recent grim internet warning from a self-described American jihadist warned of ISIS having scores of “trained soldiers” positioned in 15 states, awaiting orders to carry out more operations like the one in Garland.

“Out of the 71 trained soldiers, 23 have signed up for missions like Sunday, we are increasing in number,” read the warning. “Of the 15 states, 5 we will name: Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California, and Michigan.”

Due to the escalating number of threats on the U.S., security at all U.S. military bases was raised this past weekend, according to CBS News.

To date, the Islamic State has given us no reason to question their resolve or barbarism, and have made it clear they intend to follow through with their mission. And they will gladly die for their cause.

But even with the enemy threat now on American soil, President Obama still hasn’t displayed the will or courage to defeat them.

How many will die before he takes action?

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

White House sets delayed anti-extremism summit

11 Jan

How about ‘first’ admitting there’s such a thing as Islamic terrorism…just saying…

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In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, the White House has scheduled an anti-extremism conference that was originally set for last October but was postponed without explanation.

In a statement issued as many world leaders gathered in the French capital Sunday to express solidarity with France and to vow renewed efforts to fight violent Islamic radicalism, the White House announced that its summit on the issue of homegrown terrorism will take place next month.

“On February 18, 2015, the White House will host a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism to highlight domestic and international efforts to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals or groups in the United States and abroad to commit acts of violence, efforts made even more imperative in light of recent, tragic attacks in Ottawa, Sydney, and Paris,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson first announced the summit in September, as concern was growing about the threat posed by the Islamic State movement and by that group’s recruitment of fighters in the West. Johnson said the high-level meeting would take place the following month.

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However, it did not. In the lead-up to the midterm elections, White House spokesmen repeatedly refused to discuss the reason for the delay or even to confirm on the record that it had been postponed.

Last week’s shooting rampage at a satirical French weekly and hostage-takings at two other sites in Paris refocused attention on the danger of so-called homegrown extremists carrying out attacks far from the places in the Middle East and Africa where such violence is more common.

Earnest said Sunday that the conference would address efforts being taken in the U.S., as well as promoting cooperation with similar work abroad.

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“Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) efforts rely heavily on well-informed and resilient local communities.  Boston, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis-St. Paul have taken the lead in building pilot frameworks integrating a range of social service providers, including education administrators, mental health professionals, and religious leaders, with law enforcement agencies to address violent extremism as part of the broader mandate of community safety and crime prevention,” he said.

“At the same time, our partners around the world are actively implementing programs to prevent violent extremism and foreign terrorist fighter recruitment.  The summit will include representatives from a number of partner nations, focusing on the themes of community engagement, religious leader engagement, and the role of the private sector and tech community,” the White House spokesman added.

Al-Qaeda warns of more lone wolves

28 Dec

Jihadist magazine hails recent atrocities, predicts more lone wolves and gives new bomb-making recipe

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 Glossy Jihadist magazine hails recent atrocities predicts more lone wolves and gives new bomb making recipe

Nasr bin Ali al-Ansi, a top commander for Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula Photo: AFP/Getty/Site

Gloating over a wave of recent atrocities, Sheikh Nasr Al Ansi said more were to come in an interview with a glossy Jihadist magazine, Inspire.

Slickly produced and chilling in its content, the magazine not only hails the work of the lone wolf, but also provides the recipe for another bomb which, it claims, will be undetectable at many airports.

Western intelligence experts have voiced fears at the threat posed by individual jihadists without obvious connections to Islamist militants.

Their fears appear to be well-founded, according to the interview.

“Because some deaths are caused by a thousand cuts. And a small blood clot paralyses the whole body.”

He adds: “Allah the Almighty has facilitated for them capabilities that are absent to other Muslims: reaching the heart of the enemy’s land and other targets.”

Advice for the lone wolf ranges from how to produce a bomb to how to handle the publicity from the atrocity.

Written in the style of a commercial cookbook, the “AQ chef”, describes how commercially available ingredients can be used to make a device.

The devices can be made in a kitchen, the magazine adds.

“If a Mujahid can prepare a bomb from materials used in the kitchen instead of lab material and instead of lab materials use cooking utensils, then we have a double success and we have overcome the security hurdle.

“Generally we are trying as much as possible to move the lone Mujahid from the lab to the pharmacy and the pharmacy to the kitchen.”

War with Isis: Islamic militants have army of 200,000, claims senior Kurdish leader

16 Nov

ISIS GROWING STRONGER…OBAMA’S PLAN IS FAILING

Under attack: A shell explodes in Kobani, Syria
ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images
 Exclusive: CIA has hugely underestimated the number of jihadis, who now rule an area the size of Britain

The Islamic State (Isis) has recruited an army hundreds of thousands strong, far larger than previous estimates by the CIA, according to a senior Kurdish leader. He said the ability of Isis to attack on many widely separated fronts in Iraq and Syria at the same time shows that the number of militant fighters is at least 200,000, seven or eight times bigger than foreign in intelligence estimates of up to 31,500 men.

Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of the Kurdish President Massoud Barzani said in an exclusive interview with The Independent on Sunday that “I am talking about hundreds of thousands of fighters because they are able to mobilise Arab young men in the territory they have taken.”

He estimates that Isis rules a third of Iraq and a third of Syria with a population of between 10 and 12 million living in an area of 250,000 square kilometres, the same size as Great Britain. This gives the jihadis a large pool of potential recruits.

Proof that Isis has created a large field army at great speed is that it has been launching attacks against the Kurds in northern Iraq and the Iraqi army close to Baghdad at the same time as it is fighting in Syria. “They are fighting in Kobani,” said Mr Hussein. “In Kurdistan last month they were attacking in seven different places as well as in Ramadi [capital of Anbar province west of Baghdad] and Jalawla [an Arab-Kurdish town close to Iranian border]. It is impossible to talk of 20,000 men or so.”

The high figure for Isis’s combat strength is important because it underlines how difficult it will be eliminate Isis even with US air strikes. In September, the CIA produced an estimate of Isis numbers which calculated that the movement had between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters. The underestimate of the size of the force that Isis can deploy may explain why the US and other foreign governments have been repeatedly caught by surprise over the past five months as IS inflicted successive defeats on the Iraqi army, Syrian army, Syrian rebels and Kurdish peshmerga.

The US and its allies are beginning to take on board the obstacles to fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to degrade and destroy Isis. General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived in Baghdad on Friday in a surprise visit. He said he wanted “to get a sense from our side about how our contribution is going”. Earlier in the week, he told Congress that to defeat Isis an efficient army of 80,000 men would be necessary. Few in Iraq believe that the regular army is up to the task, despite winning a success last week by retaking the refinery town of Baiji and lifting the siege of the refinery, the largest in Iraq.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Hussein spelled out the new balance of power in Iraq in the wake of the Islamic militants’ summer offensive and the military re-engagement of the US. The Kurdistan Regional Government now faces Isis units along a 650-mile front line cutting across northern Iraq between Iran and Syria. Mr Hussein said that the US air intervention had enabled the Kurds to hold out when the unexpected Isis assault in August defeated the peshmerga and came close to capturing the Kurdish capital Irbil: “They were fighting with a strategy of fear that affected the morale of everybody, including the peshmerga.”

As well as terrifying its opponents by publicising its own atrocities, Isis had developed an effective cocktail of tactics that includes suicide bombers, mines, snipers and use of US equipment captured from the Iraqi army such as Humvees, artillery and tanks. To combat them, Mr Hussein says the Kurds need Apache helicopters and heavy weapons such as tanks and artillery.

The Kurdish leaders are now much more relaxed about Isis because they have a US guarantee of their security. The grim experience of the US in seeing the collapse of the government and army in Baghdad, which the Americans had fostered at vast expense, also works in favour of the Kurds.

Holding on: Kurdish chief of staff Fuad Hussein with John Kerry in June Holding on: Kurdish chief of staff Fuad Hussein with John Kerry in June AFP/Getty
Mr Hussein does not like to talk about it today, but the Kurdistan Regional Government got a nasty surprise in August when it asked the Turkish government for help in stopping Isis only to be told Ankara planned no immediate assistance. It was only then that the Kurds turned to Iran and the US, both of which immediately acted to prevent a complete victory by the Islamic militants. Iran sent some officers, military units and artillery while the US started air strikes on 8 August.

Mr Hussein speculates that the CIA and US intelligence agencies may only have been speaking about “core” fighters in claiming that the jihadis had at most 31,500 men under arms. But the fighting over the past five months has shown that Isis has become a formidable military force. “We are talking about a state that has a military and ideological basis,” said Mr Hussein, “so that means they want everyone to learn how to use a rifle, but they also want everybody to have training in their ideology, in other words brainwashing.”

A sign of the military professionalism of Isis is the speed with which they learned to use captured US tanks, artillery and other heavy equipment captured after the fall of Mosul on 10 June. The same thing happened in Syria where Isis captured Russian-made arms which it rapidly started using. The most likely explanation for this is that IS’s ranks contain many former Iraqi and Syrian soldiers whose skills Isis has identified. Mr Hussein says that the peshmerga has been impressed during the fighting by Isis’s training and discipline.

“They will fight until death, and are dangerous because they are so well-trained,” said Mr Hussein. “For instance, they have the best snipers, but to be a good sniper you need not only training on how to shoot, but discipline in staying put for up to five hours so you can hit your target.”

There is supporting evidence for Mr Hussein’s high estimate for Isis numbers. A study by the National Security Adviser’s office in Baghdad before the Isis offensive showed that, when 100 jihadis entered a district, they would soon recruit between five and 10 times their original number. There are reports of many young men volunteering to fight for Isis when they were in the full flood of success in the summer. This enthusiasm may have ebbed since the US started air strikes and the Isis run of victories ended with their failure to capture Kobani in northern Syria despite a long siege.

In an impoverished region with few jobs, Isis pay of $400 (£250) a month is also attractive. Moreover, Mr Hussein says that in the places they have conquered Isis is remodelling society in its own image, aiming to educate people into accepting Isis ideology.

A fighter jet takes off from a US war ship A fighter jet takes off from a US war ship Reuters
The Kurds have recovered their military self-confidence in the knowledge that they are backed by the US and Iran. The peshmerga have taken back some towns lost in August, notably Zumar close to the Syrian border, but not Tal Afar and Sinjar where 8,500 Yazidis are still besieged on their mountain top. But there are limits to how far the Kurds are willing to advance even if they succeed in doing so. Mr Hussein says that the Kurds can help an Iraqi army, supposing a non-sectarian one is created, but “the Kurds cannot liberate the Sunni Arab areas”.

This is the great problem facing a counter offensive against Isis by Baghdad or the Kurds: it will be seen by the five or six million Sunni Arabs in Iraq as directed against their whole community. Hitherto, the US has been hoping to repeat its success between 2006 and 2008 in turning many Sunni against al-Qaeda in Iraq. Mr Hussein ticks off the reasons why repeating this will be very difficult: the Americans then had 150,000 soldiers in Iraq to back up anti-al-Qaeda tribal leaders. Isis will savagely punish anybody who opposes it. “We have seen what happened in Anbar to the Albu Nimr tribe [that rose up against Isis]. They stood bravely against the terrorist but 500 were killed. It was a disaster.”

Overall, Mr Hussein says he does not see any convincing sign of resistance from the Sunni Arabs. Many of them may be unhappy, particularly in Mosul, but this is not translating into effective opposition. Nor is it clear what outside force could organise resistance. The Iraqi army might be acceptable in Sunni areas but only if it is reconstituted so that is not dominated by the Shia.

At the moment, the Kurds see little sign of its presence. They have been asking for regular troops to defend the Mosul Dam on the Euphrates so they can use up to 3,000 peshmerga stationed there, but no Iraqi troops have turned up. “Those who are now defending Baghdad are the army of the [Shia] parties. To re-establish a professional army needs time.”

Mr Hussein did not say so, but it may be too late to establish a competent cross-confessional regular army in Iraq. The counter-offensive by Baghdad is led by the three main Shia militias which have almost the same ideological fervour and sectarian hatred as Isis. Any advance on the battlefield leads to the population deemed loyal to the losing side taking flight so the whole of northern Iraq has become a land of refugees.

EXCLUSIVE: Got him! Jihadi John is ‘wounded’ in US airstrike.

15 Nov

 10 top ISIS commanders killed

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  • Jihadi John was in a bunker in northern Iraq with the leader of ISIS
  • A US airstrike destroyed the bunker, killing an estimated 10 ISIS leaders 
  • Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was believed to have been injured in the airstrike
  • The Foreign Office confirmed they are investigating reports the injuries 
  • A nurse claimed one of the men was the man who ‘slaughtered journalists’

By Abul Taher for The Mail on Sunday

Jihadi John, the Briton who beheaded two British and two American hostages held by Islamic State terrorists, has been injured in a US-led air strike, according to reports received by the Foreign Office.

The masked ‘executioner’ with a London accent is believed to have narrowly escaped death when he attended a summit of the group’s leaders in an Iraqi town close to the Syrian border last Saturday.

The meeting was targeted by American and Iraqi jets.

The US Air Force attacked a bunker where Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Jihadi John were meeting in Iraq

‘We are aware of reports that this individual [Jihadi John] has been injured, and we are looking into them,’ a Foreign Office spokesman told The Mail on Sunday.

This newspaper has received an independent account of how Jihadi John was injured and rushed to hospital after a devastating air strike in Al Qaim, in Anbar Province, Western Iraq.

The Foreign Office spokesman added: ‘We have a number of sources of information coming in.

‘The incident occurred last weekend, and so we have received the reports in the last few days. We don’t have any representation inside Syria, and so it is difficult to confirm these reports.’

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The Foreign Office also issued an official statement saying: ‘We are aware of reports. We cannot confirm these reports.’ A spokesman for US Central Command said they were unable to confirm the details for security reasons.

The joint US-Iraqi mission left at least ten IS commanders dead, and around 40 injured.

Those reportedly hurt included IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

But until now, Jihadi John’s presence at the meeting has not emerged.

It is also not known whether Jihadi John was intentionally targeted or merely happened to be present.

The secret, heavily guarded meeting took place last Saturday in a makeshift underground bunker beneath a house in Al Qaim. At least 30 tribal elders from various parts of Syria and Iraq gathered to pledge allegiance to Al-Baghdadi, according to our well-placed Syrian source. He said Jihadi John, as a senior IS figure in his own right, who goes by the nomme de guerre Jalman Al-Britani, was also present.

Terror Watch

Sources claim that Jihadi John, pictured, was injured and rushed to hospital following the surgical airstrike in Iraq which killed ten ISIS commanders, the killer, who has a London accent, murdered Steven Sotloff

Jihadi John was also responsible for the murder of British aid worker Alan Henning, left

According to our source, a nurse who treated the wounded in a hospital in Deir-ez-Zour, confirmed that one of the names on the injured list was Jalman, saying it was ‘the one who slaughtered the journalists’.

It is not clear how seriously the British fanatic was hurt, but the source said that both he and Al-Baghdadi were rushed to the Al Qaim General Hospital for treatment.

IS members issued urgent calls through the local mosque’s loudspeakers, appealing for the town’s residents to donate blood at the hospital.

Our source, who does not want to be identified for his own safety, added that Jihadi John, Al-Baghdadi and the other wounded IS personnel were then driven to Syria, and travelling 200 miles north along the Euphrates valley to the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

The injured were taken to two captured Syrian army barracks near the city in the hope that underground medical facilities there would provide protection against further air strikes.

The source said that hospitals in Raqqa and nearby Deir-ez-Zour were ordered to take their medical supplies and staff to the secure bases, once the HQs of the Assad regime’s 17th Division and 93rd Brigade.

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Jihadi John, who also murdered David Haines, left, is believed to live in the Syrian town of Al Bukamal

Jihadi John has become one of the world’s most hunted terrorists after beheading British aid workers David Haines, 44, from Perth, and Alan Henning, 47, from Manchester; and American journalists James Foley, 40, and Steven Sotloff, 31. Footage of the atrocities has been released online, and in the most recent gruesome execution video of Mr Henning, put out last month, the murderer threatened to behead another US hostage, Peter Kassig, 26, an aid worker.

British journalist John Cantlie, also held hostage, has been forced to appear in a series of internet propaganda videos for IS.

Our source, who has contacts with the IS leadership in Syria, also throws fresh light on the role played by Jihadi John within the terrorist group.

Unlike most other western Muslim recruits, he has risen to a position of some seniority. Normally, Western fighters occupy lowly positions, mainly being used as foot soldiers or performing guard duty. Although believed to formerly have been a prison guard for IS, Jihadi John was made a member of a shura council, or governing body, of an IS ‘wilayat’, or province.

IS is now controlling large areas of Syria and Iraq, which it has declared an Islamic caliphate. Jihadi John is understood to be in the shura council for the wilayat of Al Furat, an area that straddles the Syria-Iraq border and includes Al Qaim, the scene of the air strike.

Our source added that Jihadi John does not live in Raqqa, but in Al Bukamal, a small desert town which borders Iraq.

He is aged between 28 and 31, and is fluent in English, Arabic and classical Arabic, the language of the Koran, according to our source. He first joined IS in Iraq when he left the UK, but then moved to Syria.

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The raid is believed to have injured the leader of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, pictured

Audio of ISIS leader released days after ‘he was killed in …

The source said that Jihadi John usually travels in a black Audi jeep, and he has six other British terrorists with him who act as his bodyguards.

In the confusion following the bombing last weekend, rumours swiftly spread that IS leader Al-Baghdadi had been killed.

Last week, in order to scotch those rumours, he issued a 17-minute audio recording, exhorting extremists to ‘erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere’.

The Mail on Sunday has obtained an Iraqi intelligence document from the Federal Intelligence and Investigation unit of the Ministry of Interior, which outlines last Saturday’s attack.

The document said that Al-Baghdadi was wearing black and first went to a kindergarten building before going to have lunch at an IS leader’s house. It is believed that the air strikes took place when he was meeting the other leaders in a bunker beneath that property.

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It is understood that Jihadi John has been moved to the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, pictured

Muhammad Nasser Delli, an MP for Anbar province, told The Mail on Sunday that local residents confirmed to him that they saw Al-Baghdadi being treated at Al Qaim.

He said: ‘A number of people saw him there, but he did not stay at the hospital long. There were lots of women and children that were killed on Saturday during the air strikes.’

The Iraqi intelligence paper also states that Al-Baghdadi was taken to Al Qaim hospital, before being driven to Syria.

It lists 16 IS leaders as having been killed in the attack, and nine injured.

Among the dead are Abu Huzaifa Al-Adnany, a security guard to Al-Baghdadi, and Abu Quatayba, the cleric of Al Furat wilaya, who would sit in the same shura council as Jihadi John.

Also dead is a prominent IS fighter from Chechnya called Abu Abdul Rahman Al-Shishani, says the document.

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