Islamic State Comments on the Gaza War and Escalates in Afghanistan

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 22 May 2021

Al-Naba 287, page three

The last two issues of Al-Naba, the weekly newsletter of the Islamic State (IS), had a number of interesting items, most obviously finally breaking its silence on the latest flare-up between Israel and HAMAS. Continue reading

Islamic State Profiles the Godfather of its Media Department

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 8 May 2021

Wael al-Ta’i (Abu Muhammad al-Furqan), Al-Naba 285, p. 3

The 285th edition of Al-Naba, the weekly newsletter of the Islamic State (IS), released on 6 May, had a biography of Abu Muhammad al-Furqan, one of the most important IS leaders, the head of its Central Media Department and its operational ruler when he was killed in September 2016. Continue reading

What Can We Learn From Iran’s Foreign Minister?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 3 May 2021

Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif, December 2020, during an interview with Lotfullah Najafizada of TOLO News

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Muhammad Javad Zarif, took part in an oral history project intended for internal use by the clerical dictatorship in February and on 25 April the audio was leaked—so goes the story. There is every reason to think this is a controlled leak, which is to say an information operation or a piece of strategic messaging—more pejoratively, propaganda or disinformation: choose the terminology as you will—intended to assist the Iranian theocracy as it works through its negotiations on the nuclear file with the new American administration of President Joe Biden. Still, there are some insights from this episode, as with an interview Zarif gave—focused on Afghanistan—in December. Continue reading

Islamic State Newsletter Claims an Attack on Russia in Syria, Operations in Pakistan and Afghanistan

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 25 April 2021

Al-Naba 283, p. 8

The 283rd edition of Islamic State’s (IS) weekly newsletter, Al-Naba, released on 22 April 2021, contained the usual reports on IS’s guerrilla and terrorist operations, stretching from Africa to Syria and Iraq at the “Centre” to South Asia, plus the main editorial and an ideological essay. Amid the reports was IS’s response to a controversial episode in eastern Syria involving the Russians, and a sign of an uptick in IS’s operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the U.S.-led NATO forces prepare to abandon Afghanistan. Continue reading

Who Are The Victims of “Radicalisation”?

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 20 April 2021

The rise of far-Right extremism in the West, in the United States in particular, has been one of the major media stories since at least 2016. Think tanks have gotten in on the action, and in due course official institutions followed the lead. There has been a significant element of moral panic about this, a result of a search for explanation by liberal ruling classes hit with disorientating political developments, above all in the Anglo-American world, with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as President. Christian Picciolini’s book, Breaking Hate: Confronting the New Culture of Extremism (2020), is very much a product of this mood of doom among Western liberals. Continue reading

Islamic State Eulogy for a Military Commander in Yemen

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 17 April 2021

Al-Naba 273, p. 10

The Islamic State (IS) released issue 273 of its weekly magazine, Al-Naba, on 11 February 2021. On pages 10 and 11 (out of 12) it contained a eulogy for Abu al-Hassan al-Adeni, who was IS’s military commander in Al-Bayda area in Yemen. Continue reading

The Last Coup of the Russian Tsardom

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 29 March 2021

Tsar Pavel I

A few days ago, it was the 220th anniversary of the palace coup that, in the early hours of 24 March 1801, deposed the Russian Tsar, Pavel (Paul) I, the last of the Russian monarchs to fall in this way.[1] Continue reading

The Impact of Plague: From Antiquity to the Present

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 21 March 2021

Almost exactly a year ago, the British government announced the first lockdown to counter the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and around the same time such measures were adopted in almost every other country. With Britain having now vaccinated nearly half the country, including all of the most vulnerable, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson having set out a timetable for the lifting of restrictions, it is possible to think of the post-COVID 19 situation and to wonder about how or if it will be different to what came before. Continue reading

The First Speech of Abu Hamza al-Muhajir

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 15 March 2021

Destruction at the Sadeer Hotel in Baghdad, 9 March 2005

The Islamic State movement, then-known as Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM), used a suicide truck bomb to blow up the Sadeer Hotel, where many foreign contractors were staying, and the next-door Agriculture Ministry, on 9 March 2005, murdering three people and wounding forty, thirty of them Americans. Reporting at the time noted that “insurgents wearing police uniforms first shot to death a guard at the Agriculture Ministry’s gate, allowing the truck to enter a compound the ministry shares with the adjacent Sadeer hotel”, and these details were confirmed in a two-minute audio message released later in the day by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the veteran Egyptian jihadist who would take over AQM when its founder was killed in 2006.[1] A transcript of the brief speech is reproduced below. Continue reading

Inducement and Terror: How the Islamic State Deals With Sunni Social Leaders

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 14 March 2021

Abdul Munim al-Badawi (Abu Hamza al-Muhajir), the then-leader of Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM), released his fourth audio statement on 28 September 2006. The speech was entitled, “Come to a Just Word” (تعالوا إلى كلمة سواء); an English transcript was released by the jihadists and is reproduced below. Continue reading