by, Institute for the Study of War
BAGHDAD, Iraq: On September 18, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) launched a complex attack likely targeting the Adala Prison in Baghdad’s Kadhmiyah neighborhood in northern Baghdad. According to the Baghdad Operations Command, the attack was intended to break into the prison but was foiled. ISIS also launched another attack in Baghdad’s Iskan neighborhood that likely targeted the offices of the Iraqi Shi’a political group and militia, the Badr Organization.
ISIS’s attack included mortar rounds, Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs), and Suicide Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (SVBIEDs). The mortars were likely launched from the areas of the northern Baghdad belt including Taji. Fourteen mortar rounds reportedly targeted the Adala prison and in the vicinity of Kadhmiyah, and other mortar rounds fell in the Greaat area in northern Baghdad which is adjacent to Kadhmiyah. An SVBIED also targeted the prison, resulting in the death of three people and injury of 10. Two attackers who had intended to attack the prison while wearing an explosive vest (SVEST) were arrested. Another VBIED exploded in a restaurant area in Kadhmiyah that resulted in the death of four people and the injury of 11 people. Iraqi police also defused yet another VBIED that was also found in Kadhmiyah. As a result of these attacks, security forces raised alert levels in Kadhmiyah. Security Forces also ordered commercial shops to be closed in the predominantly Iraqi Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah. Adhamiyah lies just across the Aaima bridge from Kadhmiyah. Elsewhere in Baghdad, a VBIED detonated in the Iskan area in western Baghdad. The VBIED targeted the office of the Badr Organization, a Shi’a militia organization that has taken a leading role in directing Iraqi Shi’a militia operations to counter ISIS.
This attack is very significant. It is the first infantry-like, complex, and penetrating attack in Baghdad city by ISIS since the fall of Mosul in June of this year. ISIS likely carried out the attack to release some of the pressure it is facing as a result of the recent U.S. air campaign targeting its positions. The attack also signifies that, despite the heightened defenses of Baghdad in the aftermath of the fall of Mosul, ISIS is still able to carry out attacks in an area where it is unlikely to have active sleeper cells given Kadhmiyah’s predominantly Iraqi Shi’a demographic. The mortars were likely launched from Taji due to ISIS’s historical presence in the area and its ongoing activities there.
The attacks will not likely divert great deal of resources of the ISF and Iraqi Shi’a militias into other areas. The government will want to maintain a strong defense of Baghdad by preserving the same posture. More likely, however, the attacks will trigger increased activities of Iraqi Shi’a militia in Baghdad in order to target ISIS sleeper cells and predominantly Iraqi Sunni areas including Adhamiyah.
Pope Francis I. Photo courtesy of: Newsmax
by, Sandy Fitzgerald | Newsmax
It is Christianity’s “turn” to suffer religious persecution, Pope Francis told a World Jewish Congress delegation visiting his home in Rome Wednesday night, saying that Christians are being killed while the world remains silent.
Francis and World Jewish Council President Ronald Lauder both condemned attacks against the world’s Christians, reports Haaretz, particularly in the Middle East, where extremists with the Islamic State (ISIS) have targeted Christians in Iraq and Syria.
“In the world, there is still great suffering,” the Pope told the delegation. “First it was your turn. Now it’s our turn.”
Francis also told the 40-member delegation, which included WJC CEO Robert Singer and Claudio Epelman, director of WJC Latin America in Argentina, that he wants to visit refugees in Jordan who have fled there to escape violence in Syria and Iraq.
Lauder told Haaretz that Christians in Iraq and Syria are even being identified with a symbol bearing the letter Jewish letter nun, or N, for Nazarene, which he said identifies Christians’ homes much “as the yellow star was used in the past against European Jewry.”
“Israel is the only place that is safe for Christians in the Middle East, ” Lauder said.
Also during the meeting, Francis drew comparisons between the World War II Holocaust and the persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq, reports The Telegraph.
“Pope Francis told us privately that he believes we are in World War Three,” said Lauder. “But unlike the first two world wars, instead of happening all at once this war is coming in stages,” he said.
Further, Lauder said, that the Pope’s words meant that “first Jews suffered savage attacks that were met with the world’s silence and now it is Christians who are being annihilated and the world is silent.”
The Islamic State has also encouraged “lone wolf” attacks against Western Christians, The Telegraph reports, while emptying Christian towns in Iraq and Syria and demanding Christians either convert, flee, or face death.
The Pope has in the past said, that ISIS should be stopped, reports The Telegraph, saying “in cases like this, where there is an unjust aggression, then it is licit to halt the aggressor.”
However, he stressed “halt,” rather to “bomb or make war” against the insurgents.
The Pope’s words, plus his standing as the most prominent Christian leader in the world, has led the Islamic State to issue “credible threats” to murder Pope Francis, a warning that comes as the pontiff plans a trip to Muslim-dominated Albania on Sunday, Iraqi Ambassador to the Vatican Habib al Sadr told the Italian newspaper La Nazione, reports Breitbart.
Sadr said he does not have specific details of a threat but is convinced the Pope is in real danger.
“I think they could try to hit him during his travels or even in Rome, because there are members of ISIS who are not Arabs but also Canadians, Americans, French, British, and Italian,” Sadr said.
by, Bill Roggio | The Long War Journal
Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) claimed that Pakistani Navy officers were involved in the failed attempt to hijack a Pakistani warship and launch missiles at US Navy vessels in the Indian Ocean.
AQIS’ spokesman, Usama Mahmoud, made the claim today in a statement released on his Twitter account. Mahmoud’s statement was obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Mahmoud had previously claimed on Sept. 13 that AQIS executed the attack on the Pakistani warship, and published a diagram purporting to show the layout of the PNS Zulfiqar. He said that the attackers had planned to take control of the PNS Zulfiqar and launch missiles at US warships in the Indian Ocean. The PNS Zulfiqar carries at least eight C-802 surface to surface anti-ship missiles. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent claims 2 attacks in Pakistan.]
In today’s statement, Mahmoud accuses the Pakistani military and media outlets of attempting “to deliberately cover up the truth of this operation and the nature of its objectives,” according to SITE. “In an obvious attempt to deceive the world, the official spokesmen for the army and navy portrayed the attack as targeting the Pakistani Navy alone, and its arsenal in the city of Karachi in particular.”
But Mahmoud says the “true objective of the operation … is the American naval fleet that is stationed in the Indian Ocean.”
The AQIS spokesman denied that the Sept. 6 assault on the PNS Zulfiqar at the naval base in Karachi was carried out by “intruders,” and instead said that Pakistani naval “officers” executed the attack.
“The official Pakistani story alleged that the attackers were merely a group of intruders that breached a military institution of the Pakistani Navy, and broke in from outside,” Mahmoud says. “However, all the participants in this fearless operation were officers serving in the ranks of the Pakistani Navy.”
The naval officers, Mahmoud claims, “responded to the appeal of the scholars and jihad and joined the ranks of the mujahideen.”
Mahmoud described the officers’ involvement in the attack as a “rebellion” and not just an attempt to strike at the US.
“Therefore, this operation does not represent an attack on the Americans alone, but it is a rebellion against the Pakistani Navy by its own elements, striking the policy of humiliation and subjugation to America, which the Satanic alliance – represented in the Americanized generals, selfish politicians, and corrupt government employees – imposes,” Mahmoud says.
Mahmoud goes on to explain AQIS’ “reasons for targeting America.” The reasons are standard for al Qaeda, and include the US’ perceived war on Islam, and America’s support for Israel, Muslim countries, and “secular movements.”
The US Navy was chosen as a target because “through its naval military superiority, America is able to control ours straits, our channels, and our waters, and loot the fortunes of our Ummah [Muslim community],” Mahmoud says.
Reports of collusion within Pakistani Navy
While Mahmoud’s claim that Pakistani naval officers executed the attack on the PNS Zulfiqar cannot be proven, Pakistani officials and press reports indicate that at least some of the attackers are members of the Pakistani military.
Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s Defense Minister, said that “some of the navy staff of commissioned ranks and some outsiders” were involved in the attack, according to Dawn.
The Nation reported that a former naval officer known as Awais Jakhrani was killed during the attack. Jakhrani, the son of a Karachi Police Assistant Inspector General, had “links with [a] banned organization.”
Additionally, three “Navy officials” were arrested in Quetta in Baluchistan while trying to flee to Afghanistan.
Pakistan’s Navy has long been thought to be infiltrated by al Qaeda. In late May 2011, Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad wrote an article in the Asia Times on the jihadist attack on Pakistan Naval Base Mehran in Karachi. That attack was carried out by Brigade 313, a unit led by al Qaeda and Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami leader Ilyas Kashmiri. In his article, Shahzad noted that Pakistani officials had begun investigating jihadist “groupings” within the Navy in the spring of 2011 and discovered a “sizeable al Qaeda infiltration within the navy’s ranks.”
After military officials detained and interrogated suspected jihadist infiltrators, al Qaeda threatened to launch attacks against military bases. The Pakistani military opened negotiations with al Qaeda, which ultimately failed. Then Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces in Abbottabad on May 1, 2011. Al Qaeda and allied Pakistani jihadists decided to take revenge, obtaining detailed information on Mehran from their Navy infiltrators.
“Within a week, insiders at PNS Mehran provided maps, pictures of different exit and entry routes taken in daylight and at night, the location of hangers and details of likely reaction from external security forces,” Shahzad wrote.
Shahzad’s article, which was published on May 27, 2011, is widely believed to have resulted in his murder at the hands of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate. He was kidnapped and murdered just two days after it was published.
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by, J. Schuyler Montague
AQIS intent was to hijack an Armed Pakistani Naval Ship in the following class:
Pictured above: PNS-Zulfiquar Class
General characteristics of the Zulfiquar class are:
The F-22P or Zulfiquar-class frigate (Urdu: ذوالفقار English: Sword class), is a general purpose frigate built by Pakistan and China for the Pakistan Navy (PN). They are an adaptation of the Type 053H3 frigates of China but include elements of the Type 054 frigates as well. The frigate’s primary surface-to-surface missile armament comprises eight C-802 subsonic anti-ship missiles carried in two launchers with four cells each, fitted between the foremast and the funnel.
by, Tarek Fatah | Middle East Forum
When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sat down in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the 13th anniversary of 9/11, surrounded by the leaders of 10 Arab states, to build a coalition against Islamic State (ISIS), the scene dripped with irony.
For decades, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, along with Arab billionaires in Gulf Arab states, have financed the breeding grounds of Islamic extremism in the tens of thousands of madrassas spread around the world, from Philippines to Philadelphia.
Take the case of the al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, whose death President Barack Obama boasted about at the Wales NATO summit as an example of America’s approach to dismantling al-Qaida-affiliated groups.
What Obama failed to mention was the fact Godane became a jihadi terrorist only after obtaining a Saudi scholarship to study radical Islam at madrassas in Sudan and later Pakistan.
Assuming the objective of the American/Arab coalition was to fight the misogynist murderers of ISIS, it was also ironic not a single woman sat at the table. Not even a female State Department staffer or assistant.
This was not a coalition that will defeat ISIS; it was a coalition that will end up reinforcing Islamic State as the one true answer to the crimes being committed against the Arab people by its own leaders.
Islamic State is being formed exactly the way Saudi Arabia was formed when thousands of bloodthirsty jihadis rose from the Sultanate of Nejd and invaded the Kingdom of Hejaz, slaughtering the country’s citizens into submission in 1925.
Sen. Ted Cruz Q&A in Armed Services Committee Hearing on ISIS:
Remember, Saudi Arabia is a kingdom where the king had his own daughters held hostage to force their mom, his runaway wife, to return.
Then we have Turkey as a NATO ally sitting in on secret meetings where the West bungles its way trying to figure out the difference between “strategy” and “tactic”.
As the New York Times disclosed today “one of the biggest source of (ISIS)recruits is neighboring Turkey, a NATO member.”
The challenge posed by ISIS will not be resolved with the American airstrikes or by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s declaration echoing George Bush’s cliched chant that, “Islam is a religion of peace”.
This will merely strengthen the jihadis’ resolve and make more Muslims turn to ISIS.
Here is a five-point plan that will make ISIS weak from within:
Recognize Iraqi Kurdistan as an independent country, a UN member state with a security pact with NATO.
Recognize the Kurdish Workers Party in Turkey (PKK) as an ally, not a terrorist group.
Recognize the exiled Iranian Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK) as an ally, not a terrorist group.
Recognize the Balochistan struggle for independence from Pakistan and Iran as a legitimate national liberation struggle, similar to those of the Baltic Republics, Kosovo, East Timor and Eritrea
Expel Turkey from NATO as it is an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood and represents a threat to the West.
As for Islamic leaders in North America and Europe, they should stop their exercise in “Muslim patriotism” and for once speak the truth.
Listening to the rhetoric from some leaders of my Muslim community reminds me of car company executives who, instead of addressing the problems with their cars, are more concerned with protecting the reputation of their brand.
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Sen. Ted Cruz Discusses ISIS with Sean Hannity:
by, Megyn Kelly | Fox News
A Minnesota youth center is at the heart of a federal grand jury investigation into a suspected ISIS terrorist pipeline.
The FBI says that someone on the ground in Minnesota is convincing young people to join the terror fight in Syria, then giving them money to get there.
Up to 30 Somali-Americans who have reportedly joined or tried to join terrorist groups overseas had attended Al Farooq Youth and Family Center in Minnesota. That’s the same mosque that kicked out 31-year-old Amir Meshal this summer for allegedly proselytizing radical Islam ideologies.
Photo courtesy of: Zee News
by, Supriya Jha | Zee News | h/t Trop
Washington, D.C.: Notorious for having decapitated three Westerners in less than a month, the barbaric extremists of the Islamic State are now almost synonymous with ‘beheaders’. However, there is much more to their barbarism, than they flaunt in videos posted online.
Having annexed huge swathes of occupied territory across Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State established an Islamic Caliphate there in June. And then then they started unleashing a bloody and barbaric trail of terror, torturing and murdering people, and the ugliest element being the abduction, torture, forced conversion and rape of women.
According to a blog posted by the US State Department, “thousands of women and girls abducted from their families and sold in markets”over the last two months”.
The blog paints a sad and painful portrait of Iraqi women, who have been taken from their homes in Iraq and subjected to unspeakable atrocities including rape, torture, forced conversion to Islam, kept as sex slaves, etc. Some of them are reportedly forced to watch their children being thrashed badly by the IS extremists until they convert to Islam.
Citing a plethora of reports, the blog post written by Catherine Russell, goes on to describe the tragic plight of thousands of innocent women, and calls for directing the use of resources and expertise from anti-IS coalition (whose making is in process), to ensure that the women in the captivity of the extremists return safely to their homes.
“Now, as we galvanize an international coalition to work with the newly formed Iraqi government to confront the evil represented by these extremists, we need to ensure ISIL’s horrendous treatment of women and girls is front and center,” reads the blog.
The blog further cites reports of abduction of some 1,500 to 4,000 women and girls, mainly from Iraqi minorities and regrets how even the young ones of age 12 and 13, too, were auctioned to the IS monsters “like cattle”.
“Girls as young as 12 or 13 have been forced to marry extremists or sold to the highest bidder — like cattle at an auction”.
Reportedly, many women have begged to die rather than to bear with the intolerable trauma and brutality meted out to them by the IS men.
There is a sea of “heartbreaking and terrifying” stories of such Iraqi women in IS captivity who prefer to die than to live as Islamic State extremists’ concubines.
Explaining how the “de-humanization of women and girls is central to ISIL’s campaign of terror”, the blog recommends the newly formed Iraqi government and the international coalition being formed to hold discussions on how to ensure the safe return of “those who have been abducted and trafficked”.
Patriarch Gregory III Laham from Syria, demanding that Senator Ted Cruz be removed from the summit.
by, Alana Goodman | The Washington Free Beacon
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) said in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon that the “hatred and bigotry” he encountered when he was booed off the stage at a Middle Eastern Christian conference for defending Israel on Wednesday night was like nothing he has previously seen in his political career.
“I’ve certainly encountered audiences that disagreed with a particular point of view. But this virulent display of hatred and bigotry was remarkable, and considerably different from anything I’ve previously encountered,” Cruz said, just a few hours after his pro-Israel speech to the In Defense of Christians conference was drowned out by shouts and jeers from the audience.
The senator was booed off stage at the conference, which is aimed at raising awareness for the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians, after saying that Christians “have no greater ally than Israel” and calling on the audience to support the Jewish state.
“The division and anti-Semitism expressed tonight by some of the crowd is not reflective of the teachings of Christ, and is in fact directly contrary to the tenets of Christianity,” Cruz said.
In a video posted by the Daily Caller, audience members can be heard shouting at Cruz during his keynote address.
“I am saddened to see that some here, not everyone, but some here, are so consumed with hate,” said Cruz, before he was interrupted with shouts of “all of us!” from the audience.
“You speak for yourself!” one participant yelled during the senator’s defense of Israel.
“If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews, then I will not stand with you,” said Cruz, as audience members drowned him out with boos and cries of “enough!,” “no!” and “never!”
The Free Beacon reported on Wednesday that several Hezbollah and Syrian regime supporters were scheduled to speak at the conference. Numerous members of Congress were scheduled to attend, including Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.), Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), and Rep. Brad Sherman (D., Calif.).
The speakers included Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Raï, who has defended Hezbollah’s right to attack Israel and has called for a meeting with the Iranian-backed terrorist group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Another speaker, Syriac Orthodox Church Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, boasted on his official Facebook page last week about his Sept. 5 meeting with a “high level delegation from Hezbollah.”
The conference also featured Antioch Church patriarch Gregory III Laham, who has blamed terrorist attacks against Iraqi Christians on a “Zionist conspiracy against Islam” aimed at making Muslims look bad.
“It is actually a conspiracy planned by Zionism and some Christians with Zionist orientations, and it aims at undermining and giving a bad image of Islam,” Laham said in 2010, according to the Daily Star.
Despite the controversial speakers, Cruz decided to speak at the conference because he wanted to bring attention to the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians, his office told the Free Beacon on Wednesday afternoon.
He said Wednesday night that he was disappointed he was unable to give the speech he had planned.
“I’d intended to talk tonight about Pastor Saeed Abedini, wrongfully imprisoned in the nation of Iran for practicing his Christian faith. I’d intended to talk tonight about Mariam Ibrahim, wrongfully imprisoned and sentenced to torture and death for her Christian faith,” said Cruz. “I had intended to talk about the three Jewish teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas simply because they were Jews.”
“Radical Islamic terrorists do not distinguish between Christians and Jews,” he added. “They hate us both, they murder us both.”
Funding for the conference was provided by top Clinton donor and Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury, organizers told the Free Beacon on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the conference did not immediately respond to request for comment.
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Here is a video of Patriarch Gregory III Laham from Syria, demanding that Senator Ted Cruz be removed from the summit..
More on this incident can be read here
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by, J. Schuyler Montague | sharia unveiled
Let me first say, this comment is NOT directed towards the Middle-Eastern Christians as a collective, but rather towards those individuals in attendance at the IDC Summit, that were hateful and disrespectful. Many of those in attendance were very cordial and respectful and this message is not in reference to them.
Secondly, they invite Sen. Cruz to speak at the IDC summit as their keynote speaker and then, they disrespect him while he is there speaking on their behalf. He just happens to be one of the most genuine defenders of Middle-Eastern Christians, in their plight to end their persecution. Furthermore, Senator Ted Cruz was absolutely and unequivocally correct in his message and the “Christians” that showed objection were merely purveyors of hate and facilitated division.
On a personal note, a substantial portion of my life has been spent working to end the persecution of faith. Being a ‘..voice for the persecuted..’ is an honor and a privileged, of which I am not worthy. I never ‘chose’ to do it, but rather I feel as though I was ‘chosen’ to do it. Having said that, let me be very clear..
To those rude and disrespectful “Christians.” You should be ashamed of yourselves!
I will speak for you, to the extent that “you” speak for the Jews. I will defend your nation and your people, to the extent that “you” defend Israel and the Jewish people.
If “you” do not stand with Israel and the Jewish people, then likewise..
I cannot stand with you.
To view the ‘Original’ Uncut & Uncensored version of this video, scroll down and click the link inside the grey box…
by, Phil Helsel | NBC News
Terrorist group ISIS released a video Saturday purportedly showing the execution of British aid worker David Cawthorne Haines.
If confirmed, it is the third time the organization, which has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria, beheaded a captive and released a video of the execution, intending to send a message to Western nations. Britain recently said it wouldsend machine guns and ammunition to Iraq to help that government battle the militants, and it is weighing whether to participate along with the U.S. in possible airstrikes in Syria against the terror group.
Haines, 44, like others in taped executions by the terror group, is forced in the new video to read a script in which he blamed his death on British Prime Minister David Cameron and the British government’s decision to join the U.S. in its battle against ISIS.
A black-clad, masked militant holding a knife then says the execution is in retaliation for Britain’s decision to supply arms to Kurdish fighters battling ISIS in Iraq.
After the murder, another captive is shown and the executioner warns Cameron, “you will have the blood of your people on your hands,” if the U.K. continues to ally with the U.S. in its campaign against the group.
Cameron called the execution “an act of pure evil,” and vowed, “We will do everything in our power to hunt down these murderers and ensure they face justice, however long it takes.”
President Barack Obama said in a statement that the United States “strongly condemns the barbaric murder of David Hains” and offered his condolences to the family and the people of the U.K.
“The United States stands shoulder to shoulder tonight with our close friend and ally in grief and resolve. We will work with the United Kingdom and a broad coalition of nations from the region and around the world to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice, and to degrade and destroy this threat to the people of our countries, the region and the world,” Obama said in the statement.
A spokesperson for the British Embassy said the government is offering Haines’ family “every support possible.”
Haines did security work for peacekeeping groups in the region when he was reportedly abducted in Syria in early 2013.
ISIS released a video Sept. 2 showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff, who was kidnapped in Syria in August 2013. Another American journalist, James Foley, was executed in a video released Aug. 19.
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*This story has been updated to note that all the sites included in a list of “official Islamic State accounts” have now been suspended by VKontakte
by, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai | Mashable
The Islamic State may soon be running out of social networks.
When Twitter ramped up its crackdown on several accounts in the wake of the brutal beheading of James Foley, the militants were forced to move on to different social networks like Diaspora and VKontakte (or VK), the Russian equivalent of Facebook, looking for more permissive digital pastures.
But VKontakte, which boasts of 260 million users, has also started to crack down on accounts related to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL).
“We are shutting down all communities and personal accounts that promote ISIS and have been found by our moderators or reported by users,” George Lobushkin, VKontakte’s spokesperson, told Mashable.
Experts who track Jihadists online confirmed that the crackdown has indeed started. “They have just suspended two of their top accounts,” Laith Alkhouri, a researcher with Flashpoint Partners, told Mashable.
J.M. Berger, who writes the influential Intelwire report also confirmed that two popular pages, named “al Hayat” and “Ajnad” — ISIS used both accounts for propaganda and recruiting — had been suspended.
Until Thursday, however, experts were critical of VKontakte’s leniency with ISIS accounts.
“VKontakte is their safe haven for now,” said Pieter Van Ostaeyen, a researcher who’s been tracking ISIS fighters and supporters on the Internet for months. “The main fact for these guys to move there is because they don’t get kicked off all the time.”
In the last three months, as ISIS fighters have carved a bloody path through Syria and Iraq, the group has shown an unprecedented ability among Jihadist groups to use social media to spread propaganda and recruit new fighters. But as large social networks like Facebook and Twitter crack down on their accounts, they have been forced to move to smaller networks with a more limited reach, but also more freedom to operate.
Even after the suspension of “al Hayat” and “Ajnad,” Alkhouri told Mashable that VKontakte is “not doing enough.”
On Thursday morning, Van Ostayen also pointed to a list of VKontakte profiles circulated on Twitter in the last week, titled “The Official Accounts of the Islamic State.”
Of the 16 links on the list, nine were still active at the time this article was written. And four of the ones that are now suspended were still active on Thursday, according to an analysis conducted by Mashable with the help of Dlshad Othman, a Syrian hacker and technologist who now lives in D.C. (After this story was published, VKontakte blocked all the links in the list.)
Vkontakte’s seemd to ramp up its crackdown on the same day a Russian news site Apparat published an investigation into Islamic State activities on VKontakte, revealing that the militants were widely recruiting and fundraising on the site, which Apparat defines as “free” and “comfortable” for the militants.
But VKontakte’s spokesperson Lobushkin rejected the idea that they’ve been too slow in their crackdown. He said the first account of the 62 was blocked on Aug. 7, but he also said that in the last two days, they shut down “about 20.”
For Alkhouri, compared to other social media companies, 62 “is a very small number” that dwarfs compared to others. Even after this fresh round of suspensions, “[VKontakte]‘s standards remain lackluster,” he said.
This story has been updated to note that all the sites included in a list of “official Islamic State accounts” have now been suspended by VKontakte.
by, Agence France-Presse | NDTV
SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Islamic State’s Twitter users, which have trumpeted the group’s violent acts and worldview on the social media service, have gone abruptly quiet in past days.
Several accounts affiliated with the militant group appear to have gone dormant, according to U.S. government sources, raising questions about whether the government has pressured Twitter to clamp down more aggressively or whether the group has moved to other social media channels.
When contacted, several U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity they were unaware of attempts to quash those Twitter accounts. The sudden silence also came days after reports about Islamic State-linked accounts threatening action against Twitter employees, though there was no evidence to link the two episodes.
Twitter Inc declined to comment on actions the company has taken related to accounts affiliated with the group, which is also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
But it has suspended several accounts affiliated with the group in recent months, including one user who threatened retaliation against Twitter’s employees.
A U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that as government officials identify people on social media whom they believe to be “terrorists” or “extremists,” they draw them to the attention of companies such as Twitter and Facebook Inc , which act at their own discretion.
“People (in government), but also people outside, are constantly referring these companies to identified terrorists,” the official said. “I wouldn’t say there is a systematic policy that the U.S. government is going around asking (companies like) Twitter to shut these people down. They sprout very fast. They change their handles.”
A second government source familiar with the situation said there was a clear change of social media tactics by Islamic State in the days leading up to President Barack Obama’s Wednesday speech. Obama said then that he had authorized air strikes in Syria and Iraq, in a broad escalation of a campaign against the organization.
Some experts say the militants may have increasingly taken to other online services such as Russia’s VKontakte and Diaspora, a four-year-old social network that relies on a decentralized network of independent computer servers.
Such a tactic is sometimes employed when militants want to evade tracking, the source added.
Video courtesy of: RT
CAT AND MOUSE
The evolving practices underscore the challenges facing government officials and Internet companies as militant organizations discover the power of social media for propaganda and recruiting.
Twitter’s laissez-faire approach to monitoring content, together with an aggressive posture in challenging censorship requests and demands for customer information, have made it the darling of civil liberties advocates and political protesters from New York’s Occupy Wall Street to students in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
Twitter, which in general has fewer restrictions on content than its social media rivals, has thus become a vital communications tool for activists, political protesters and militant groups alike.
Of particular appeal to groups like the Islamic State: it can be used anonymously, unlike many other services, and it can be used by any cellphone with a text-messaging function.
Its rules prohibit tweets that include “direct, specific, threats of violence against others,” and the company will suspend accounts that use Twitter for illegal activities.
But accounts that purport to be affiliated with or to support militant groups on the U.S. State Department’s list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, such as the Islamic State, might not automatically violate its rules.
“Twitter doesn’t have a real name policy, which makes it difficult to determine a user’s identity. But FTO lists are one of several factors we consider when reviewing a reported account,” a Twitter spokesman said.
Twitter relies on reports from users and government officials. Facebook by contrast has a special team that keeps a lookout for postings by terrorists groups such as Islamic State, which are banned on Facebook.
For instance, Twitter removed videos of American journalist James Foley’s beheading by Islamic State that circulated on its service last month, but relied on a policy of removing images of deceased individuals in response to requests by family members.