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Egypt’s Jets Retaliate for Slaughter of Christians, Hit ISIS in Libya: Jamie Dettmer, Daily Beast, Feb. 16, 2015 — Egypt launched airstrikes this morning at dawn on targets in neighboring Libya to retaliate for the barbaric mass execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians held by militants affiliated to the so-called Islamic State.
Islamic State Affiliate Takes Root Amid Libya’s Chaos: Matt Bradley & Benoît Faucon, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 1, 2015 — Islamic State’s affiliate in Libya has capitalized on the battlefield failures and disillusionment among better-established, more moderate Islamist groups in the country, following the same formula that brought the radical movement success in Syria and Iraq, Western counterterrorism officials said.
How the West Destroyed Libya: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Jan. 13, 2015 — The full impact of Western intervention in Libya was recently highlighted during a televised interview of Worlds Apart with guest Hanne Nabintu Herland, a Norwegian author and historian who was born and raised in Africa for 20 years.
How ISIS is Winning: The Long Reach of Terror: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Feb. 5, 2015— Eight months after President Obama ordered selective bombings against the Islamic State, a k a ISIS, the terrorist group retains the initiative in both military and political terms.
Former U.S. Marine Killed by Islamic State’s Tripoli ‘Province’: Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard, Jan. 28, 2015
Five Things to Know About Egypt’s Coptic Christians: Asa Fitch, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 16, 2015
Egyptian President Sisi Calls for Reform of Islam: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Feb. 15, 2015
The Russian "Comeback" to Egypt: Shaul Shay, Israel Defense, Feb. 13, 2015
Daily Beast, Feb. 16, 2015
Egypt launched airstrikes this morning at dawn on targets in neighboring Libya to retaliate for the barbaric mass execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians held by militants affiliated to the so-called Islamic State. Egyptian officials say more strikes will be launched on jihadists in the coming days, dragging the country deeper into the chaos that has swept Libya since the ouster of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The air-raids came after a horrific five-minute video was posted by the militants on Sunday, apparently showing the gruesome spectacle of Coptic Christians having their throats sliced on the shores of the Mediterranean at Sirte, Gaddafi’s birthplace. Almost immediately, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al Sisi vowed revenge publicly during a television broadcast to Egyptians and the bombing followed hours later. The Egyptian leader said he would choose the “necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings” of Egypt’s citizens.
The mass execution of the Coptic Christians is fueling growing alarm in Rome and Paris at the lawlessness in Libya and especially at the rapid expansion of the Islamic State in a country just a short boat ride from southern Europe. According to an Egyptian military spokesman speaking on radio, jihadist training camps and ammunition stores were hit in the airstrikes. There were also attacks on a compound in the eastern Libyan town of Derna, the jihadists’ main base in the country. Libyan warplanes controlled by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who backs one of two rival governments in Libya, joined in the airstrikes. An Egyptian Armed Forces General Command spokesman said the attacks were to "avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers. Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them.” This is the third time in the last few months Egyptian jets have struck targets in Libya, but the first time Cairo has acknowledged doing so. Last summer, the militia alliance called the Dawn of Libya, which controls the capital of Tripoli, accused Egypt and the United Arab Emirates of bombing its forces.
The video posted on Sunday shows footage of several men dressed in orange jumpsuits being led along a beach by masked militants in black. The men are then made to kneel and another masked jihadist in battle fatigues says to the camera in accented English: “All crusaders: safety for you will be only wishes, especially if you are fighting us all together. Therefore we will fight you all together.” He warns: “The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.” The captives, all immigrant workers in Libya who were abducted in two separate raids in December and January, are made to lie face down and are simultaneously beheaded in a scene reminiscent of a video posted last year of the mass beheading of Syrian soldiers by Islamic State militants in northern Syria. In the video, which displays the slick semi-professional techniques of Islamic State (widely known by the varying acronyms ISIS, ISIL and Daesh), the militant spokesman points northward after the executions, saying: “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.”
On Twitter, accounts associated with ISIS, posted links to the video carrying the title, “A Message Signed With Blood To The Nation Of The Cross.” That threat would appear to be towards the Christian West as whole but Italian politicians also are taking the view that the threat is a literal one towards Italy and in recent weeks Italian officials, including the country’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, have begun to echo some French politicians talking about the need for a possible intervention in Libya to curb the lawlessness and halt the rise of ISIS. Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti told Il Messaggero newspaper over the weekend that, "We have been discussing this for months but now it has become urgent." She minced no words: “The risk is imminent, we cannot wait any longer. Italy has national defense needs and cannot have a caliphate ruling across the shores from us." At the weekend, 100 Italians were repatriated from Libya, among them embassy employees and oil and gas workers, after another ISIS video warned, “We are south of Rome.” Many hundreds more who work in the lucrative Italian-Libyan companies remain. Renzi is due to address parliament on Thursday to outline a plan for intervention in Libya, which he says would only happen under a United Nations mandate…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Matt Bradley & Benoît Faucon
Wall Street Journal, Feb. 1, 2015
Islamic State’s affiliate in Libya has capitalized on the battlefield failures and disillusionment among better-established, more moderate Islamist groups in the country, following the same formula that brought the radical movement success in Syria and Iraq, Western counterterrorism officials said. A group calling itself Islamic State’s Tripoli Province claimed responsibility for an attack on Tuesday on a hotel that killed nine people, including an American. It was the first time the group came to prominence in Libya, raising concerns that the reach of the extremists is spreading beyond Syria and Iraq. But the attacks also underlined the threat Islamic State poses to more entrenched Islamist groups such as Libya Dawn, a more moderate Islamist militia that is ideologically close to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and now fights secular insurgents in eastern Libya.
Oil-rich Libya has gradually slipped into chaos since rebels toppled strongman Moammar Gadhafi three years ago, with two rival governments now claiming to run the country and myriad competing local militias effectively in control on the ground. In an example of the anarchy creeping into the country, the head of planning at the National Oil Co., Samir Kamal, was kidnapped two weeks ago before being released Sunday. The identity and motives of his kidnappers remain unknown. The threat to Libya represented by Islamic State is on an altogether different scale. The North African nation’s experience with local militants pledging allegiance to Islamic State follows a pattern in which the group gains a foothold by seizing on the vulnerabilities of countries embroiled in chaos and war or with weak central governments.
Since its inception in Syria in 2013, Islamic State has behaved opportunistically, piggybacking on more powerful, more moderate Islamist groups. They appear to be following a similar pattern to capitalize on the conflict dividing secularists and Islamists in Libya, Western counterterrorism officials said. “The secularists and the Muslim Brothers have been fighting each other and the Salafi-jihadists like Islamic State are taking advantage of that and are in the ascent” in Syria, Egypt and Libya, said a Western counterintelligence official. An umbrella of moderate Islamist political groups in the country, such as Libya Dawn, share an ideological affinity to the Muslim Brotherhood in neighboring Egypt while Islamic State and other extremists follow a hard-line ideology known as Salafism.
By hanging back from much of the front-line fighting, Islamic State’s affiliates have been able to save their strength while seizing recruits, land, weapons and other resources from the more moderate, religiously driven groups—aiming to build up until it is powerful enough to become the dominant Islamist force. “Taking the upper hand from the Muslim Brotherhood is Islamic State’s priority,” said the Western counterterrorism official. That strategy worked best in Syria, where Islamic State spent the first part of the civil war almost entirely disengaged in the fight against dictator Bashar al-Assad. An Islamic State affiliate also appears to be gaining momentum in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula by tapping into a vein of anger left over from the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president who was pushed aside in a popularly backed military coup in 2013. The group, which calls itself Province of Sinai, claimed responsibility for a coordinated assault against multiple Egyptian police and military targets Thursday night that killed at least 30 people.
If Islamic State’s attacks over the past week caused anxiety in the West, it is unclear how the leadership of Libya Dawn will respond to the challenge. The coalition of militias, which governs the capital Tripoli and much of the country’s lawless western half, has condemned the hotel attack. The coalition grew out of the remnants of Islamist parties that resisted leaving office after Libyans voted out the country’s first parliament last summer. Since then, the group has fought against a secular-leaning militia led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a former Libyan army officer. Most of the international community backs Gen. Hifter and his rival parliament based in the eastern city of Tobruk. Libya Dawn leaders blamed the hotel attack on their more traditional rivals: their secular-leaning groups in eastern Libya, elements of the country’s former regime and neighboring Arab governments that are hostile to Islamists.
Last week, few in Libya Dawn’s leadership were prepared to acknowledge that the attack may have actually come from Islamic State. Terrorism experts warn that Libya Dawn’s lack of focus on Islamic State’s expanding presence is only playing into the extremist group’s ambitions. “The attack gave us an indication of the presence of terrorism, but I cannot confirm it was done by radical groups” because the investigation isn’t finished yet, said Mohamed Baio, a political adviser to Libya Dawn’s leadership. Another leader insisted that the assailants didn’t speak like Islamists and seemed more like “drug addicts” employed by Gen. Hifter or remnants of Moammar Gadhafi’s ousted regime to sow mayhem.
Islamic State claims little allegiance among Libyan Islamists and controls little territory. But some intelligence officials worry that battlefield defeats of the larger Islamist militias, who carry the bulk of the fighting against secularists, could benefit the hard-core Islamic State. The radical fighters are already capitalizing on the recent killing of the leader of the powerful Libyan Islamist militia Ansar al-Shariah, which Washington blames for killing U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens in the 2012 attack on the American consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi. The death of the militia leader, Mohamed al-Zehawi, who died during a fight with secular-aligned enemies, increased the appeal of Islamic State, which still rarely wades into such fights, according to another Western counterterrorism official.
“Islamic State has taken roots in Libya, particularly in the eastern city of Derna, because Libya Dawn’s moderate Islamists and secularists supporting Gen. Hifter are focused on battling each other,” said Geoff Porter, head of political risk firm North Africa Risk Consultancy. If Libya Dawn waits to police Islamic State elements within their midst, Mr. Porter and other experts say it may soon find it has waited too long to contain the extremist threat.
Frontpage, Jan. 13, 2015
The full impact of Western intervention in Libya was recently highlighted during a televised interview of Worlds Apart with guest Hanne Nabintu Herland, a Norwegian author and historian who was born and raised in Africa for 20 years. At one point while talking about Libya, Herland firmly asserted that: “In a just world, the political leaders in the West, that have done such atrocities towards other nations and other cultures, should have been sent to the Hague [International Criminal Court], and judged at the Hague, for atrocities against humanity.”
Before that, the African-born, Norwegian author said: “Libya is the worst example of Western countries’ assault in modern history; it’s a horrible thing to be a European intellectual and to watch your own political leaders go ahead and engage in something like this. In Norway, for example, when it comes to something like the Libyan war … [political leaders] sent MSM messages to the other people in parliament; it was never a discussion in parliament, it was an MSM saying “Let’s bomb because someone called from America.” We [Norway] bombed 588 bombs over roads, and water, and cities in Libya at that time. And we had a large documentary in Norway, after that, where the fighters, the pilots that flew over Libya and dropped these bombs, they actually said in the documentary that “We were sent up and we weren’t even told what to bomb—just bomb something that looks valuable.” Herland also pointed out that, according to UN figures, Gaddafi’s Libya was once the most prosperous nation in Africa. While Oksana Boyko, the host, sometimes disagreed with Herland, she agreed about the West’s counterproductive role, pointing out that Gaddafi “was very active in trying to advance women’s rights, he brought a lot of women into universities and the labor force [a thing few people in the West know, as usual, thanks to the “MSM”] and now what people and women in Libya are facing is Sharia [Islamic law], with the possibility of some of them being sold to ISIS fighters as virgin brides.”
Indeed, that the jihadis and other “ISIS” type militants gained the most from Western intervention in Libya cannot be denied. Simply looking at the treatment of Christian minorities—the litmus test of the radicalization of any Muslim society—proves this. Thus…January 12, “A Libyan affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed the abduction of 21 Coptic Christians and released pictures of the captives.” It is not clear if these 21 are in addition to the 13 Christians kidnapped days earlier on January 3.Then, around 2:30 a.m., masked men burst into a housing complex in Sirte, Libya. The militants went room to room checking ID cards to separate Muslims from Christians, seizing only the latter. They handcuffed the Christians and rode off with them.
(Segregating Christians from Muslims is a common procedure around the Islamic world. For example, last November, after members from the Islamic organization Al Shabaab hijacked a bus carrying 60 passengers in Kenya, they singled out and massacred the 28 non-Muslim passengers, the Christians. In October 2012 in Nigeria, Boko Haram jihadis stormed the Federal Polytechnic College, “separated the Christian students from the Muslim students, addressed each victim by name, questioned them, and then proceeded to shoot them or slit their throat,” killing up to 30 Christians.) According to Hanna Aziz, a Christian who was concealed in his room when the other Christians were seized in Libya, “While checking IDs, Muslims were left aside while Christians were grabbed…. I heard my friends screaming but they were quickly shushed at gunpoint. After that, we heard nothing.” Three of those seized were related to Aziz, who mournfully adds, “I am still in my room waiting for them to take me. I want to die with them.”
A few days earlier, also in Sirte, Libya, a Christian father, mother, and young daughter were slaughtered reportedly by Ansar al-Sharia—the “Supporters of Islamic Law,” or the Libyan version of ISIS that rose to power soon after the overthrow of Gaddafi. On December 23, members of the Islamic group raided the Christian household, killing the father and mother, a doctor and a pharmacist, respectively, and kidnapping 13-year-old Katherine. Days later, the girl’s body was found in the Libyan desert—shot three times, twice in the head, once in the back. As for motive, nothing was stolen from the household, even though money and jewelry were clearly visible. According to the girl’s uncle, the reason this particular family was targeted is because “they are a Christian family—persecuted.”
In short, as I wrote nearly a year ago, it continues to be “open season on Christians in Libya.” In February, 2014, after Ansar al-Sharia offered a reward to any Benghazi resident who helped round up and execute the nation’s Coptic Christian residents, seven Christians were forcibly seized from their homes by “unknown gunmen,” marched out into the desert and shot execution style some 20 miles west of Benghazi. A few days later, another Coptic Christian, Salama Fawzi, 24, was shot in the head while unloading food in front of his grocery stand in Benghazi, again, by several “unknown gunmen.” And the day after that, another corpse was found, believed to be that of a Copt—due to the small cross tattooed on his wrist traditionally worn by Egyptian Christians. This is to say nothing of the churches attacked, of Christian cemeteries desecrated, and of 100 Christians—including Western ones—arrested, tortured (some dying) for possessing Christian “paraphernalia” (like Bibles and crosses) in the post “Arab Spring” Libya the Obama administration and its allies helped create. As previously mentioned, Muslim persecution of Christians is the litmus test of how “radical” an Islamic society has become. Thus, in all those Mideast nations that the Obama administration and its Western allies have interfered—Egypt (under Morsi), Libya, and ongoing Syria—the increase of Christian persecution there is a reflection of the empowerment of forces hostile to everything Western civilization once stood for.
New York Post, Feb. 5, 2015
Eight months after President Obama ordered selective bombings against the Islamic State, a k a ISIS, the terrorist group retains the initiative in both military and political terms. That assertion may surprise many. After all, the Iraqi army and the Kurds have scored a few battlefield victories over ISIS. Dyala, one of the four Iraqi provinces captured by ISIS, has been cleared of the invaders and is now under Iraqi army control. In two other provinces, Salaheddin and Nineveh, the Iraqi army (backed by volunteer units) has managed to keep ISIS forces behind certain lines. And in the “triangle of death” southwest of Baghdad, the Iraqi army has recaptured several strategic points. More spectacularly, ISIS has been forced to retreat from parts of the Syrian city of Kobani.
Yet even senior Iraqi politicians admit off the record that “the monster of Daesh” (the Arabic name of ISIS) is very much alive and kicking. Why don’t the “victories” noted above alter the overall picture? To start with, Daesh isn’t fighting a conventional war of position. It’s operating in three concentric circles. The inner circle centers on the Syrian city of Raqqah, where the “caliphate” has its headquarters, and on Mosul, Iraq’s No. 3 city. The next circle includes the Iraqi cities Ramadi, Fallujah and Tikrit, which ISIS uses as bases for launching rapid strikes into other cities, including Baghdad itself. In the third circle, ISIS maintains a number of units based in villages across the great desert that spans from Syria and Iraq to Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Following a model set by the Prophet in his own wars, these units engage in hit-and-run incursions such as the one against Saudi Arabia last month.
Most original inhabitants refuse to return to the towns and villages liberated from ISIS. The heap of rabble that is now Kobani has drawn no more than 10 percent to come home. Less than 5 percent are willing to return to Jabal Sanjar, the stronghold of Yazidis for over 1,000 years. In some localities, Iraqi officers have noticed a “Stockholm Syndrome,” with local Shiite and Turkman inhabitants expressing some sympathy for “the purity and efficiency” of Daesh’s rule. It is not solely by weapons that ISIS imposes its control. More important is the terror it has instilled in millions in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and, increasingly, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Indeed, Jordan’s panic-driven decision to execute two jihadists in response to the burning of its captured pilot is another sign of the terror Daesh has instilled in Arab governments and much of the public.
In the short run, terror is a very effective means of psychological control of unarmed and largely defenseless populations. Even in areas far from Daesh’s reach, growing numbers of preachers, writers, politicians and even sheiks and emirs, terrorized by unprecedented savagery, are hedging their bets. Today, Daesh is a menacing presence not only in Baghdad but in Arab capitals from Cairo to Muscat — an evil ghost capable of launching attacks in the Sinai and organizing deadly raids on Jordanian and Saudi borders. ISIS enjoys yet another advantage: It has a clear strategy of making areas beyond its control unsafe. No one thinks Daesh can seize Baghdad, but few Baghdadis feel they’re living anything close to a normal life.
Daesh’s message is clear: No one is safe anywhere, including in non-Muslim lands, until the whole world is brought under “proper Islamic rule.” Part of the blame for what is little short of a failure for the anti-ISIS alliance rests with Obama’s inept or deliberately evasive leadership. He has kept bombing operations against ISIS to a homeopathic minimum, never attacking the “caliphate” in its heartland. Iraqi officials tell me that Obama has put so many constraints on the use of US airpower that by the time a demand for intervention is cleared in Washington, the chance to inflict defeat on Daesh has passed. “We are on the battlefield and we call for American air support,” says an Iraqi officer. “But we are told that a number of caveats have to be ticked off first. By the time the green light comes, we are left with an empty desert.”
Obama’s nominal participation in the campaign serves Daesh’s propaganda magnificently. At a small cost, the “caliph” claims he is fighting “the infidel superpower,” thus grabbing some legitimacy and a measure of popularity in a world where anti-Americanism is a common affliction. Daesh can and must be defeated and destroyed, not “contained and degraded” as Obama asserts. Yet this requires a new strategy that would include the deployment of special forces from the US and other Western and Arab powers, sustained airstrikes against Daesh’s inner sanctum and the arming of anti-ISIS tribes in Iraq and anti-Assad fighters in Syria. Obama may dismiss all that as a tall order. If he does, he’ll merely confirm Daesh’s belief that as long as Obama is in charge, it has little to worry about.
Former U.S. Marine Killed by Islamic State’s Tripoli ‘Province’: Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard, Jan. 28, 2015 —Two gunmen entered the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli Tuesday morning. When their shooting rampage was over, at least ten people had been killed. For jihadists in Libya, the hotel was an inviting target.
Five Things to Know About Egypt’s Coptic Christians: Asa Fitch, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 16, 2015 —The Copts are an early Christian denomination that began in Alexandria and survived the rise of Islam in Egypt starting in the 7th century.
Egyptian President Sisi Calls for Reform of Islam: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Feb. 15, 2015—Egyptian President Sisi’s speech on January 1, 2015, could represent the beginning of a theological, cultural and behavioral reaction from the broad Arab body-politic toward the excesses generated from the so-called “Arab Spring” that became the nightmare of most Arab and Muslim regimes, as well as for many Western countries.
The Russian "Comeback" to Egypt: Shaul Shay, Israel Defense, Feb. 13, 2015—On February 9, 2015, Russian president Vladimir Putin arrived to Cairo for a two-day visit, in a move aimed at bolstering bilateral ties with Egypt. Putin last visited Egypt a decade ago in 2005, when Hosni Mubarak was president.
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