On 2 November 2016, a speech by the leader of the Islamic State, Ibrahim al-Badri (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi), was released, entitled, “This Is What Allah and His Messenger Promised Us”. On 11 November, the third edition of IS’s English-language magazine, Rumiya, printed a transcript of the speech, which is reproduced below with some editions in transliteration, explanations added in square brackets, and notable or important sections shown in bold.Continue reading →
Left to Right: (1) Fadel al-Hiyali (Haji Mutazz or Abu Muslim al-Turkmani); (2) Adnan Ismail Najem al-Bilawi (Abu Abdulrahman al-Bilawi); (3) Samir al-Khlifawi (Haji Bakr)
Nearly a year ago I wrote that in crude terms the Islamic State’s (ISIS’s) “military strength comes from the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s military-intelligence apparatus and the Caucasus’ Salafi-jihadists.” Since then I have dug up some answers for why this is so that did not seem to be widely shared. This might be about to change.
There are few people in British public life more destructive, especially among the young, than Russell Brand, not least because of his poisonous advice that people should not vote. When I first saw him proffer this advice on Newsnight—where I could not believe he had been invited and then taken seriously—it seemed to me a form of vandalism, using his prominent and comfortable position to urge those less comfortable to throw away one of the few levers they had to make their lot better.
But now I find the only way I could cast a ballot in the upcoming Election is if there was an option for “None of the Above”. I can only differentiate myself by noting both the very considerable gulf in our audiences, and thus responsibilities, and that I do not seek to advise anybody, only explain my own personal decision. Continue reading →
In Brent, northwest London, in the evening of April 12, a 46-year-old man was arrested as part of the ongoing investigation into the April 7 murder of the Syrian-born imam, Abdul Hadi Arwani, a long-time opponent of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Writing about the murder of Arwani last week, I noted that the available evidence suggested the motivations of the murderer(s) could be:
Financial: related to Arwani’s business dealings as the owner of his construction company
Other local or personal
Intra-Islamist: Arwani had been the director at the Salafist An-Noor Mosque and was himself clearly an Islamist, but Arwani was against the Islamic State (ISIS), for example, which might have made him enemies among some congregants
Agents of the Assad regime, conceivably with the complicity of Iran and Russia
Those options still stand, but some important updates over the weekend have helped alter the relative likelihood of each. Continue reading →
Fordow, an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility near Qom—easily mistaken for the volcano lair of a Bond villain
It wasn’t exactly a nail-biting finish in the end was it? In Vienna on Nov. 24, the P5+1 and Iranian negotiators decided to extend for another seven months the “interim” deal, the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), made in November 2013 on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, until June 2015. Conditions always favoured an extension but I was not absolutely sure that this is what would happen until Secretary of State John Kerry said on Nov. 21: “We are not discussing an extension.” Continue reading →
Since President Obama’s 2009 announcement of a ‘surge’ in Afghanistan that simultaneously announced the date of withdrawal, the western focus in Afghanistan has shifted to the exits.
The steady drizzle of bad news since then has reinforced this sense that it’s over, we’ve had enough and we’re leaving.
American and British troops quit Helmand in late October, basically ceding it to Taliban control. On Tuesday John Sopko, the head of the American auditor mechanism (SIGAR) said that efforts to promote economic growth in Afghanistan have ‘accomplished nothing.’ Continue reading →
What a disaster. With American and coalition jets in the air overhead, ostensibly to do battle with Salafi-jihadists, al-Qaeda has been allowed to push rebel brigades the United States purports to support out of almost all of Idlib Province. Continue reading →
Bilal Bosnić, the Islamic State’s lead recruiter in Bosnia
A week after the American-led airstrikes inside Syria began, it was reported that two women from the Balkans, Dora Bilic and Fatima Mahmutović, had been hit in ar-Raqqa, and that Ms. Mahmutović had been killed. Ms. Bilic, born in Croatia, converted to Islam two years ago and moved to Gornja Maoca, north-east Bosnia, which is in effect a Wahhabi commune, where she met her husband with whom she travelled to Syria for jihad. Ms. Mahmutović is from a village in Bosnia not far from the infamous Srebrenica, and she moved herself and her young son to Syria late last year. As is so often the case, it seems that the Croatian intelligence services were aware of Ms. Bilic but had done little about it. Even less surprising was the follow-up report that Ms. Bilic had been radicalised in London. Continue reading →
After three-and-a-half years of resistance, the United States finally intervened in Syria on September 23 with airstrikes against the Islamic State (I.S.). The I.S. had begun an attack on the Kurdish-controlled enclave in northern Aleppo along the Turkish border on September 15/16. By October 5, the Kurdish forces had been driven back into the Kurdish-majority town of Kobani (a.k.a. Ayn al-Arab), and I.S. had them surrounded. The desperate scenes of Syrian Kurds fleeing over the Turkish border in the face of the takfiris’ recalls the Iraqi Kurds making a run for the hills after the March 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein was crushed. Then as now the Kurds believed they had stronger American backing than turned out to be the case. Continue reading →
Last month, Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic published an interview with Hillary Clinton. At 8,000 words it can be off-putting to plough through, but I have now finally got around to it, and it is rather interesting. The interview focusses on the three areas where President Obama’s foreign policy has so conspicuously failed—Syria, Iran, and Israel—and also includes sections on Egypt and Libya, where the administration’s failure has been somewhat less in the news. Continue reading →