Can ISIS Survive the Caliphate’s Collapse?

The Arabic word baqiya (“remaining”) is one of the most common adjectives associated with the Islamic State (aka ISIS), dating back to its earliest incarnation that claimed to be a state: namely, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). Once ISI officially expanded into Syria under the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and began seriously controlling and administering territory, the additional claim of “expanding” was soon tagged on to the organisation’s unofficial slogan, thus baqiya wa tatamaddad. Indeed, with the capture of Mosul and other major towns and cities in Iraq and Syria, the claim to be remaining and expanding was not without merit, especially following the declaration of the Caliphate and spread of the Islamic State franchise into multiple other countries throughout the region.

Today, we no longer speak of the Islamic State as expanding, but rather debate whether it will survive as it comes under increasing pressure on the main fronts in Iraq and Syria but also abroad: thus, in Libya, which was often assumed to be the “fallback” option for the Islamic State, the organisation’s affiliates no longer control any towns in the country.

Given that the Islamic State is now contracting, will any of it ultimately remain? Some of the Islamic State’s messaging has been devoted to this very topic, and predictably argues against the idea that loss of territory means the end of the Caliphate project.

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ISIS Terrorists Tapping Organized Crime to Infiltrate Europe

With the help of organized criminal elements, Islamic State terrorists reportedly are buying legitimate British passports that can evade security detection from security authorities, the Daily Beast reports.

An Italian intelligence investigation into the Camorra mafia discovered an advertisement on the deep web that linked to a Naples firm capable of producing sophisticated biometric passports.

“We are selling original UK Passports made with your info/picture. Also, your info will get entered into the official passport database,” the advertisement reads. “So its (sic) possible to travel with our passports. How do we do it? Trade secret! Information on how to send us your info and picture will be given after purchase! You can even enter the UK/EU with our passports, we can just add a stamp for the country you are in.”

Other investigations also shed light onto the broader ties between terrorists and European criminal organizations, including in the smuggling of weapons and forged documents.

Last year Italian authorities arrested an Iraqi man in Naples for facilitating weapons and document transfers to the Islamic State.

“Naples has been, for many years, a central logistics base for the Middle East,” prosecutor Franco Roberti told the Daily Beast last year, adding that “the Camorra (mafia) is also active in the world of jihadist terrorism that passes through Naples.”

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Texas Officials Warn of ISIS Threat to U.S.-Mexican Border

A report by the Texas Department of Public Safety raises concerns about ISIS terrorists using the Mexican border both to enter and leave the country. It noted that at least 13 aspiring terrorists have tried to cross into Mexico, or considered trying, since 2012.

Most of those cases involved people who knew they were on the federal no-fly list but wanted to travel to join terrorists, the report said. Sneaking across the southern border “presents an opportunity for increasing numbers of aspiring foreign terrorist fighters to evade US interdiction efforts such as the No-Fly List.”

The most recent example happened in October. Texas authorities arrested two Milwaukee men near San Angelo, Texas on the way to the Mexican border. Jason Ludke, 35, and Yosvany Padilla-Conde, 30, wanted to go to Mexico, obtain fraudulent travel documents and travel to join ISIS in Syria or Iraq.

In another instance in April 2015, seven Somali men from Minnesota tried to cross from San Diego into Mexico in an effort to get to Syria and fight for ISIS.

Texas resident Bilal Hamed Abood, an Iraq-born naturalized U.S. citizen, successfully used the border in 2013 to travel to Syria, where he fought for a Syrian rebel group. The FBI arrested Abood for lying about his initial travel to Syria when he tried to come home through the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Abood claimed he fought for a faction that was not prohibited under U.S. law. However, FBI agents search his computer and found that he took an oath of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Texas authorities voiced concern in 2014 about ISIS social media threats to use the Mexican border to enter the United States.

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Trump at CIA: “We have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice….This is a level of evil that we haven’t seen”

“We have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice. Radical Islamic terrorism, and I said it yesterday, has to be eradicated, just off the face of the earth. This is evil. This is evil….This is a level of evil that we haven’t seen. And you’re going to go it and you’re going to do a phenomenal job, but we’re going to end it. It’s time. It’s time right now to end it.”

As I said when he said it yesterday, it isn’t possible to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism” (which is actually orthodox and mainstream in Islam) as long as there are people who believe the Qur’an is the perfect and eternal word of Allah. There will always be some believers who get the idea that they can please Allah by killing and being killed for him (cf. Qur’an 9:111). However, Trump’s declaration, while hyperbolic, was a welcome indication of his apparent determination to speak honestly about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat, and to combat it and roll it back.

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Beyond ISIS: Europe’s Salafists Nurturing Jihad

Before there was the Islamic State, before YouTube videos that seduce Europe’s Muslims to join in the jihad, before Twitter and Tumblr and the many tools of recruitment on the Internet, there was the local mosque.

There still is.

With all the emphasis now on ISIS and its various affiliates, and on the dangers they pose against the West, we have largely forgotten the forces that were radicalizing Muslim youth in Europe long before ISIS came along. Worse, we have failed to notice they still do. And yet these largely Saudi-backed, Salafist institutions – mosques and schools and Islamic community centers – arguably pose the greatest threat to Western culture, both in terms of their potential for inspiring terrorism and the sociopolitical influence they exert.

Concerns about Salafist groups and their unwavering impact in Europe have reemerged of late, the result of numerous investigations into ties between European mosques and terror financing organizations. Added to this is a growing unrest within the European Muslim community as it struggles with its own identity and future. In the process, counterterrorism experts and government officials have increasingly been forced to acknowledge that “bombing the hell out of ISIS,” as the U.S. president-elect has sworn to do, won’t be enough to solve the problem.

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Islamic State burns alive two caged Turkish soldiers

In a new video purportedly released by the Islamic State titled “The Cross Shield,” 2 soldiers with the Turkish Army are burned to death in the Aleppo countryside. The video was released on ISIS terrorist channels on December 22. Aleppo was recently retaken by the Syrian government with the help of Russia and Turkey.

The Syrian government recently retook the eastern portion of the city that had been held by Syrian rebels, not including ISIS. According to the BBC, “The Syrian government is waiting for the Aleppo evacuations to be completed before troops move into the rebel enclave and take full control of the city.”

However, ISIS is still fighting Assad forces, his allies, and Turkey in the region. Al-Masdar News reports that yesterday three Turkish Army soldiers were killed and another ten others were wounded in a surprise attack claimed by the Islamic State.

ISIS controls the Syrian city of Al-Bab, which it uses as a command point for raids on eastern Aleppo, a mere 15-minute drive away. Turkey is currently trying to take Al-Bab, with Reuters reporting that “Turkish air strikes on Wednesday destroyed 67 Islamic State targets” in the city.

The new ISIS video centers on Turkish airstrikes and civilians in Al-Bab allegedly killed by them.

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EXCLUSIVE AFDI VIDEO: New Yorkers say ISIS in the US is fake news

AFDI Unveils Shocking New Video Showing New Yorkers Consider ISIS in the U.S. “Fake News”

NEW YORK, December 20: The human rights advocacy group the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) today unveiled a shocking new video, filmed in Grand Central Station, showing that in the city most targeted by Islamic jihadis, most New Yorkers have no idea of the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat.

AFDI President Pamela Geller noted: “It wasn’t just 9/11: New York City has been targeted by jihadis numerous times. The NYPD is on heightened alert for the Christmas season because of the all-too-real possibility that ISIS or other jihadis will carry out a major jihad terror attack during the holiday season. But in Grand Central Station, crowded with holiday shoppers, people were more worried about ‘fake news’ than about the Islamic jihad threat.”

“New Yorkers were asked which they believed to be “fake news,” ISIS or Russian election hacking. Their responses are astonishing. Most of them dismissed the ISIS threat as exaggerated or nonexistent — even as jihad attacks and threats against New York have been ongoing and increasing in frequency. And this is why we do the work we do. AFDI works to increase awareness of the grave threat that we face.”

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