Al-Qaeda group releases video of first American suicide bomber in Syria

http://rt.com/news/175900-terrorist-video-isis-explodes/

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The Syrian Al-Nusra Front, a jihadist organization aligned with Al-Qaeda, has released a video of a US citizen who blew himself up in a suicide attack in Syria. He is believed to be the first US national to carry out a terror attack in the country.

The American who joined the Syrian rebels becomes the first known US suicide bomber

The man was identified as Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, a US citizen from Florida He went under a different name in Al-Nusra – Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (Abu Hurayra the American).

Abu Hurayra was among four Al-Nusra men who carried out suicide bombings on army positions in Idlib province, northwestern Syria on May 25. Dozens were killed and wounded, though exact numbers of casualties are still unknown.

In the 17-minute video about ‘the life and death’ of Abu Hurayra, the 22-year-old American from Florida appears smiling and saying he looked forward to going to heaven.

“I want to rest in the afterlife, not in this world… My heart is not at peace here. Hopefully it will be in heaven,” Abu Hurayra says in broken Arabic in the YouTube footage posted on Friday by Al-Nusra Front’s channel.

He sits with three jihadists, allegedly other suicide bombers. One of them was identified as the jihadist from the Maldives. Abu Hurayra talks about his background and life since he arrived in Syria in 2013.

Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (screenshot from AP Video)Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (screenshot from AP Video)

“I came to Syria without money to buy a rifle or a pouch. God gave me a rifle and a pouch and everything, and… (Then) he gave me even more,” he said.

US law enforcement and counterterrorism officials confirmed the suicide bombing and said they have identified the American.

The video released right after the attack shows a huge explosion. Then a young, bearded man – Abu Hurayra – cradling a cat appears.

The parents of Abu Salha own a grocery store in Florida, his father is from Jordan and mother is a convert to Islam, local US media outlets said.

Syria plunged into civil war in 2011 when peaceful uprisings against Assad descended into violence. More than 150,000 people have been killed and millions more have been displaced in the three years since fighting began.

The rebels are made up of a very loose coalition of opposition groups, some of whom – like Al-Nusra Front – have openly affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Al-Nusra Front, operating in Syria and Lebanon, was created in 2012 during the Syrian war. Its aim is to overthrow President Bashar Assad’s government.

Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (screenshot from AP Video)Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (screenshot from AP Video)

According to Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, there are about 12,000 foreign fighters in Syria. These numbers show a stunning 50 percent increase in just three months. Of them, more than 1,000 are from Europe and more than 100 are from the US, he said.

“What is also of concern is that there are a number of veteran Al-Qaeda individuals that are now in Syria, taking advantage of the really permissive environment that exists there – basically the opportunity to train and prepare to carry out attacks against the West,” he added.

According to Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, there are about 12,000 foreign fighters in Syria. These numbers show a stunning 50 percent increase in just three months. Of them, more than 1,000 are from Europe and more than 100 are from the US, he said.

“What is also of concern is that there are a number of veteran Al-Qaeda individuals that are now in Syria, taking advantage of the really permissive environment that exists there – basically the opportunity to train and prepare to carry out attacks against the West,” he added.

Hamas and North Korea in secret arms deal

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Exclusive: Hamas has paid North Korea for missiles and communications equipment in arms deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars

Con Coughlin By Con Coughlin, Defence Editor7:00PM BST 26 Jul 2014

Hamas militants are attempting to negotiate a new arms deal with North Korea for missiles and communications equipment that will allow them to maintain their offensive against Israel, according to Western security sources.
Security officials say the deal between Hamas and North Korea is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and is being handled by a Lebanese-based trading company with close ties to the militant Palestinian organisation based in east Beirut.
Hamas officials are believed to have already made an initial cash down payment to secure the deal, and are now hoping that North Korea will soon begin shipping extra supplies of weapons to Gaza.
“Hamas is looking for ways to replenish its stocks of missiles because of the large numbers it has fired at Israel in recent weeks,” explained a security official. “North Korea is an obvious place to seek supplies because Pyongyang already has close ties with a number of militant Islamist groups in the Middle East.”
Using intermediaries based in Lebanon, Hamas officials are said to be intensifying their efforts to sign a new agreement with Pyongyang to provide hundreds of missiles together with communications equipment that will improve the ability of Hamas fighters to coordinate operations against Israeli forces.
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Like other Islamist terror groups in the region such as Hizbollah, Hamas has forged close links with North Korea, which is keen to support groups that are opposed to Western interests in the region.
The relationship between Hamas and North Korea first became public in 2009 when 35 tons of arms, including surface-to-surface rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, were seized after a cargo plane carrying the equipment was forced to make an emergency landing at Bangkok airport. Investigators later confirmed that the arms cache has been destined for Iran, which then planned to smuggle the weapons to Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
Following Israel’s latest military offensive against Hamas operatives based in Gaza, Western security officials say Hamas is now trying to persuade North Korea to provide fresh supplies of rockets to replace the thousands of missiles that have been fired at Israel since the commencement of hostilities two weeks ago.
Israeli military commanders supervising operations against Gaza believe North Korean experts have given Hamas advice on building the extensive network of tunnels in Gaza that has enabled fighters to move weapons without detection by Israeli drones, which maintain a constant monitoring operation over Gaza.
The North Koreans have one of the world’s most sophisticated network of tunnels running beneath the demilitarised zone with South Korea, and Israeli commanders believe Hamas has used this expertise to improve their own tunnel network.
The Hamas arsenal has become increasing sophisticated with foreign assistance and now boasts five variants of rockets and missiles. Its basic weapon is the Iranian-designed Qassam rocket with a range of less than ten miles but it also has a large stockpile of the 122mm Katyushas which boast a range of up to 30 miles.
The introduction of the M-75 and Syrian-made M0302 missiles means Hamas boast offensive weapons with a longer range of up to 100 miles and a much greater explosive impact.
Since the 2012 eight-day war, Hamas has increased the size and strength of its rocket arsenal. Israeli military intelligence puts its stockpile at around 10,000 rockets and mortars, including long-range rockets capable of reaching Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the northern port city of Haifa.

More Brits signing up to join ISIS than UK Army Reserve

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Written by Allen West on July 26, 2014

Today there will be a rally to support Middle East Christians from 12-3 pm in front of the White House. It will be interesting to see who shows up and if the media covers it at all. If you can’t make it, you can sign this petition to the White House.

Across the pond in England, there are also two concurrent calls for support. One is for Army Reservists. The other one is not so jolly – in fact, it’s a disturbing reflection of the policies of multiculturalism and coexistence.

As the UK Daily Mail reports, “More British citizens signed up to fight in Iraq and Syria than joined the Army Reserve last year. Just 170 extra reservists enlisted over the past year – despite a Government target to boost the stand-by force by 11,000 by 2018.”

“But at the same time, the brutal al-Qaida inspired ISIS forces tearing through Iraq have been boosted by ‘several hundred’ Brits.”

So I want you to digest what was just stated: more Brits signed up to fight in the Middle East for ISIS than to fight for their own country, as reservists. This goes beyond the scope of “homegrown terrorism.” It is now a clear and present danger to the stability of western civilization.

Just yesterday we reported that ISIS has gone from being a “just” a terrorist organization to a full-blown army. Let me put this all in a historical sense.

There were Americans of German descent who left the country and fought on the side of the “fatherland.” These individuals were highly effective when they were dropped in behind our lines and caused disruption in our operations. Why? Because they looked like Americans, and talked like Americans and knew American culture.

Once again those who failed to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Just as those young Germans felt a calling for their homeland, it seems these unassimilated Muslims — and some converts — have a calling to jihad. And for all you apologists, this is not about some “inner struggle” – it’s about wreaking death and destruction.

The Mail reports that’s “terror experts believe there could be as many as 500 Brits fighting alongside the jihadists in the Middle East for ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria). A senior government minister said: ‘There is a real problem about people going in and being radicalized and then coming home. There are several hundred who have gone from Britain that we know of. It is a worry. ‘To get to Iraq most of them will have to go through Syria, so the two are connected.’ Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday admitted Brits will ‘inevitably’ be fighting alongside ISIS which he called the ‘most violent and brutal militant group in the Middle East.’”

“Hague said, ‘As I have previously told this House, we estimate the number of UK-linked individuals fighting in Syria to include approximately 400 British nationals and other UK-linked individuals who could present a particular risk should they return to the UK.’ He said ‘some of these, inevitably’ are ‘fighting with’ Isis. Shadow defense secretary Vernon Coaker said he revelation was humiliating for the country and needed to be tackled. Coaker said, ‘The government’s own figures show more UK citizens are joining ISIS than signing up for the Armed Forces Reserves. This is shameful, embarrassing and will cause deep concern.”

Shameful? Embarrassing? Deep concern? What about down right dangerous? And you can bet if there was a crackdown of Islamic jihadist activities in the UK, all the weak apologists would come out and complain. Just look at how many of them joined in to protest in support of a terrorist organization, Hamas, against Israel.

There are neighborhoods in England where law enforcement stays away because sharia rules. What an insidious surrender of the British rule of law. How many recall the gruesome and barbaric murder of British Soldier Lee Rigby in broad daylight by two Nigerian Muslim jihadists? I know, we have no sense of total recall. I will not forget, and the freshly bloodied hands of the animal who posed for the camera and delivered his speech.

And what was the response? Restraint, don’t blame Muslims, don’t blame Islam — this is what it gets you folks, weakness is enticing to these monsters. And yes, the $10,000 question: how many have departed our own American shores to fight beside ISIS?

Perhaps the gravity of the situation is beginning to sink in. The Mail reports that “UK Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire has warned any Brits considering joining the battle abroad that they will face jail in Britain for any terror-related offences – even if they are carried out abroad.”

Brokenshire says “the Serious Crime Bill would extend the reach of the Terrorism Act 2006 so that UK-linked individuals and those who seek to harm UK interests, who travel overseas to prepare or train more generally for terrorism, can be prosecuted as if their actions had taken place in the UK.”

Here is the deal. There has to be a law clearly defining that on this 21st Century battlefield, if you depart your country of citizenship and travel to ally with Islamic terrorist organizations, you have in turn renounced your citizenship and become an unlawful enemy combatant. If engaged on the battlefield, you will be treated as the enemy. If captured on the battlefield, you will have lost your rights and will be treated as the enemy.

Of course the problem is that here we afford the enemy constituional rights. If we didn’t, it would eliminate all the angst about the fate of Anwar al-Awlaki and his ilk.

This is a very serious issue. But I guess it’s just too serious to disturb the Fundraiser-in-Chief.

Read more at http://allenbwest.com/2014/07/brits-signing-join-isis-uk-army-reserve/#hLWjkFb4PykXgdfh.99

COMPANY IN WHICH JOE BIDEN’S SON IS DIRECTOR PREPARES TO DRILL SHALE GAS IN EAST UKRAINE

Ukraine (or rather its puppetmasters) has decided to let no crisis (staged or otherwise) or rather civil war, go to waste..

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by ZERO HEDGE | JULY 26, 2014

Recall what we said earlier today: the proxy Ukraine war just like that in Syria preceding it, “is all about energy.”

Recall also the following chart showing Ukraine’s shale gas deposits, keeping in mind that the Dnieper-Donets basin which lies in the hotly contested eastern part of the nation and where as everyone knows by now a bloody civil war is raging, is the major oil and gas producing region of Ukraine accounting for approximately 90 per cent of Ukrainian production and according to EIA may have 42 tcf of shale gas resources technically recoverable from 197 tcf of risked shale gas in place.

Dnieper Donetsk shale basin_0

Finally, recall our story from May that Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, just joined the board of the largest Ukraine gas producer Burisma Holdings. From the press release:

The youngest son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, has been appointed head of legal affairs at Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, Burisma Holdings.
Hunter Biden appointed head of legal affairs at Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, Burisma Holdings. / Burisma.com
R. Hunter Biden will be in charge of the Holdings’ legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations. On his new appointment, he commented: “Burisma’s track record of innovations and industry leadership in the field of natural gas means that it can be a strong driver of a strong economy in Ukraine. As a new member of the Board, I believe that my assistance in consulting the Company on matters of transparency, corporate governance and responsibility, international expansion and other priorities will contribute to the economy and benefit the people of Ukraine.”

R. Hunter Biden is also a well-known public figure. He is chairman of the Board of the World Food Programme U.S.A., together with the world’s largest humanitarian organization, the United Nations World Food Programme. In this capacity he offers assistance to the poor in developing countries, fighting hunger and poverty, and helping to provide food and education to 300 million malnourished children around the world.

Company Background:

Burisma Holdings is a privately owned oil and gas company with assets in Ukraine and operating in the energy market since 2002. To date, the company holds a portfolio with permits to develop fields in the Dnieper-Donets, the Carpathian and the Azov-Kuban basins. In 2013, the daily gas production grew steadily and at year-end amounted to 11.6 thousand BOE (barrels of oil equivalent – incl. gas, condensate and crude oil), or 1.8 million m3 of natural gas. The company sells these volumes in the domestic market through traders, as well as directly to final consumers.
Now put it all together and what happens next should be rather clear.

* * *

Still confused? It’s very simple, really.

In a nutshell Ukraine (or rather its puppetmasters) has decided to let no crisis (staged or otherwise) or rather civil war, go to waste, and while the fighting rages all around, Ukrainian troopers are helping to install shale gas production equipment near the east Ukrainian town of Slavyansk, which was bombed and shelled for the three preceding months, according to local residents cited by Itar Tass. The reason for the scramble? Under peacetime, the process was expected to take many years, during which Europe would be under the energy dictatorship of Putin. But throw in some civil war and few will notice let alone care that a process which was expected to take nearly a decade if not longer while dealing with broad popular objections to fracking, may instead be completed in months!

“Civilians protected by Ukrainian army are getting ready to install drilling rigs. More equipment is being brought in,” they said, adding that the military are encircling the future extraction area.

The people of Slavyansk, which is located in the heart of the Yzovka shale gas field, staged numerous protest actions in the past against its development. They even wanted to call in a referendum on that subject. Environmentalists are particularly concerned with the consequences of hydrofracing, a method used for shale gas extraction, because it implies the use of extremely toxic chemical agents which can poison not only subsoil waters but also the atmosphere. Experts claim that not a single country in the world has invented a method of utilization of harmful toxic agents in the process of development of shale gas deposits.

Countries like the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and France have given up plans to develop shale gas deposits in their territories.
Not only them but also all-important Germany, which two weeks ago announced it would halt shale-gas drilling for the next seven years over groundwater pollution concerns.

Which clearly makes Ukraine, potentially the last place with massive shale gas deposits and no drilling ban, quite valuable to those who want to develop a major source of shale gas, one which reduces Europe’s reliance on Russian gas even more, yet one whose future depends on one simple question: who controls East Ukraine?

Because what better way to accelerate “next steps” than to start drilling for gas in the middle of the Donetsk republic as a civil war is waging in all directions, and where public mood has shifted decidedly against the local “separatists” in the aftermath of the MH-17 tragedy.

The punchline: who will develop the gas field in conjunction with Shell (jointly owned by the Netherlands and the UK: the two countries that loathe Putin the most in the aftermath of the MH-17 disaster) which in May 2012 announced a tender for the right to develop the Yuzovka shale gas deposit?

Burisma, Ukraine’s oil and gas production holdings, also has the right to develop the shale gas fields in the Dnieper-Donetsk basin of Eastern Ukraine. The same Burisma where R. Hunter Biden, Joseph’s son, was appointed a director two months ago.

PENTAGON OFFICIAL: SYRIAN TERRORISM ‘PROBABLY THE NUMBER ONE THREAT’ TO U.S.

Syria is probably the number one threat

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By Douglas Ernst -The Washington Times Thursday, July 24, 2014

The concentration of radical Islamic fighters in Syria, coupled with the length of time they’ve been training and fighting, has led U.S. officials to put the terrorism threat they pose to the U.S. on par with organizations operating out of Yemen.

“Syria is probably the number one threat — or, with … threats out of Yemen — to the American homeland right now and elsewhere in the west,” Michael Vickers, the Pentagon’s Under Secretary for Defense Intelligence, said while speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday, ABC News reported.

SEE ALSO: ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
Mr. Vickers, a former special forces operator, added that foreign fighters “who are Western passport holders, including Americans — a subset of that numbers in the four digits.”

Security experts expect a percentage of those passport holders to try and attack the American homeland.

“The number of foreign fighters that are already in place in Syria, and a number of other Westerners in that group, is one that is unprecedented and is a larger number than we ever saw in ungoverned spaces in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security at the Justice Department, ABC News reported.

Members of the panel also discussed one of their biggest concerns, which is the prospect of terrorists using nonmetallic bombs in a terrorist attack.

On July 1, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, reported that Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, the master bomb maker who helped Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab with his failed 2009 Christmas Day terror attack, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is serving a life sentence as a result of his guilty plea to all eight counts of a federal indictment charging him for his role in the botched bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 over Detroit.

“ISIS’s rapid advance from Syria into Iraq is … winning the group new recruits and the admiration of some other terrorists, including one of the world’s most notorious bomb makers,” Mr. Engel said.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/24/pentagon-official-terrorism-out-syria-probably-num/#.U9KkO-_lIJg.twitter#ixzz38W2exyuE
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Islamic State militants turn conquered Syria/Iraq territories into jihadist tourist paradise

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Militants with the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) have decided to turn their recent conquests into a tourist business, complete with jihadist honeymoons and themed tours across Syria and Iraq.

Islamic State orders genital mutilation of Iraqi women – UN

The sphere of influence the Iraq and Al Sham militants control, as of June, stretches through large swathes of northern and eastern Syria, as well as parts of northern and western Iraq.

Now a quite lucrative tourist trade operates without borders or ID cards, with its jihadist bus flying the black flag and ferrying fighters across the conquered lands.

AFP spoke to a number of rebels and activists by phone, who explained how the business venture works.

Many of the vacationing jihadists are from abroad. According to an activist, a Chechen was among the first. The 26-year-old Abu Abdel Rahman al-Shishani recently got married to a Syrian, whom he took on a honeymoon to Anbar.

“These jihadists are very romantic,” Hadi Salameh, the activist, told the news agency, adding that she sat in the back of the vehicle, as is customary. The lovebirds listened to jihadist songs as their bus took off from Tal Abyad, on the border with Turkey, and headed towards Iraq’s Anbar.

“You can get off wherever you want, and you don’t need a passport to cross the border,” Salameh, who is a Raqa resident and uses a pseudonym, continued.

ISIS surge: Over 270 killed in Syria, former US base stormed in Iraq’s Tikrit

“Of course it’s not free,” he said of the tours. Prices vary depending on distance traveled.

Speaking to AFP by phone, one Syrian rebel said that the foreigners among the jihadists “communicate in English and wear the Afghan-style clothing preferred by the jihadists.”

“There is a translator on the bus, who explains to them where they are going. The men on the bus are not armed, but vehicles carrying armed escorts accompany the bus,” Abu Quteiba al-Okaidi said.

Another activist, Abu Ibrahim al-Raqawi, told the agency that “tour buses run twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday. It works like any bus company would, except that it treats areas under Islamic State control in Iraq and Syria as one state.”

“Many people living in this area (northern Syria through western Iraq) have tribal ties stretching across the border. So they use these buses to visit their families,” he told AFP over the internet, adding that others use it “to do business, while some just want to take a break from the shelling in Syria.”

Convert, pay or die: Iraqi Christians flee Mosul after Islamic State ultimatum

The Islamic State has gained significant ground in both Syria and Iraq after its initial assault on the city of Mosul in mid-June. The group has since declared the creation of an Islamic state, or caliphate, straddling the Iraq-Syria border. Its presence continues to hang over the Iraqi capital Baghdad, although it seems to have halted after capturing key Sunni areas.

The group is famous for torture, public punishments and executions of anyone so much as daring to deviate from the strict form of Islam it propagates.

Islamic State orders genital mutilation of Iraqi women – UN

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Sunni militants from the Islamic State have ordered all girls and women aged 11 to 46 in and around the city of Mosul to undergo female genital mutilation, the UN reported. The potential number of victims is estimated at 4 million.

The shocking news, adding to an already long list of crimes reportedly committed by the militants since the takeover of northern Iraq last month, was broken by UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock.

“This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern and does need to be addressed,” she told reporters in Geneva by videolink from Arbil on Thursday.

“This is not the will of Iraqi people, or the women of Iraq in these vulnerable areas covered by the terrorists,” she added.

The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, has taken over large portions of Iraq with the goal of establishing a fundamentalist Sunni Islamic state in the territories of Iraq and Syria. Since then they have launched a campaign to cleanse ethnic and religious minorities in the territory they control, sending thousands of refugees fleeing for their lives.

ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS) IS “NOW A FULL BLOWN ARMY”

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When New Yorker editor David Remnick pointed out to Obama during a November interview that years after Osama bin Laden had been killed, “the flag of al-Qaida is now flying in Fallujah, in Iraq, and among various rebel factions in Syria” and “al-Qaida has asserted a presence in parts of Africa, too,” the response he got was either delusional or deceitful.

The president retorted that “if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” (IBT)

Well, the JV team is now a full-blown army that has successfully conquered whole swaths of the Middle East. Today, Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary of state, said that The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “is al Qaeda… it may have changed its name, but it is al Qaeda. In fact, it is worse than al Qaeda,” at a House Foreign Affairs Committee. McGurk warned that after the jihad organization seized enormous financial and military assets in Iraq, ISIS is “no longer a terrorist organization. It is a full-blown army.”

This is Obama’s catastrophic failure — JV. He’s a JV president — benched.

The Hill: The testimony from senior officials sparked alarm and frustration on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers said more should have been done to counter ISIS sooner.

Over the weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder said the threat of ISIS fighters infiltrating the U.S. was “more frightening than anything I think I’ve seen as attorney general.”

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told The Hill on Wednesday that the threat from ISIS had been “blinking red a long time.”

“Now it’s flashing more frequently and is a lot brighter,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of fighters who are from European countries that are visa waiver countries, which means all they have to do is shave their beards and look like normal, responsible civilians and walk into the United States of America without a visa.

“It’s a real challenge for our intelligence community to identify them and get their names on a watch list.”

During Wednesday’s hearing, officials laid out steps for countering ISIS, including pressuring countries in the region to close their borders to stop the spread of fighters and offering U.S. training for local Iraqi security forces and centrist Syrian groups.

But it is still unclear whether the administration is planning any military response. U.S. advisers on the ground in Iraq have yet to begin helping local units as the Pentagon reviews an initial intelligence assessment that found embedded American forces would be easy targets for extremists.

Lawmakers expressed concerns over the delays but also remained deeply divided about what military steps the U.S. should take.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said the administration had ignored the threat for too long and had rejected Iraqi requests for drone strikes as early as August 2013.

“What it seems like is the administration is just paralyzed. They just don’t know what to do,” added Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Iraq War veteran.

“I’m renewing the call to the administration for massive manned military air strikes to push back this very, very bad cancer that’s encroaching on the Middle East,” he said.

Other lawmakers though expressed caution and said any solution must include political reforms in Baghdad.

“I supported the president’s decision to send assessment teams to Iraq, but I’m cautious of our future action. We cannot end up in another sectarian quagmire in Iraq,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the committee’s ranking member.

Lawmakers cautioned against providing Iraq with more military help until a stable government was in place. Critics of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki say his Shiite-majority government has alienated Sunni and Kurdish minorities and emboldened ISIS. Several lawmakers called for him to step down.

“Maliki is not a good guy just because we installed him. Now we need a new prime minister,” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said.

McGurk said the administration had not ignored the threat and had already offered military assistance to Iraq.

“We set up intelligence fusion sharing centers, we helped them with the Hellfire missiles precision strikes, we helped them in terms of training forces on the ground of special operations,” he said.

But he cautioned that the focus should be on supporting an Iraqi unity government, requiring political reforms initiated by Baghdad.

“This is a uniquely Iraqi process, with Iraqi political dynamics. And the outcome will reflect that process,” McGurk said.

“There will not be an exclusively military solution to the threat posed by ISIL,” Slotkin added. Iraqis must do the heavy lifting.”

- See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/07/islamic-state-isis-now-full-blown-army.html/#sthash.LU3Sdqrf.dpuf

ISS ‘making millions’ out of stolen oil revenues in Iraq

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ISIS militants are using the revenue from seized oil fields to finance their newly-formed Islamic state in northern Iraq. Sources within the regional government say the extremist militants are “making millions” in illegal trade.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on the ISIS advances in Iraq

Sunni militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in northern Iraq are cementing their hold on the region by selling crude oil and gasoline from oil fields they have seized. Iraqi officials have confirmed to Reuters that ISIS militants have been transporting crude oil from inside Iraq into neighboring Syria.

“We have confirmed reports showing that the Islamic State is shipping crude from Najma oilfield in Mosul into Syria to smuggle it to one of Syria’s neighbors,” said Husham al-Brefkani, head of Mosul provincial council’s energy committee. “The Islamic State is making multi-million dollar profits from this illegal trade.”

The oil is processed into low quality gasoil and gasoline in Syria and then smuggled back into the city of Mosul in Iraq.
The fuel is handed over to traders who charge at least triple the price at $1 or $1.5 a liter.

“The fuel is brought from Syria … It’s triple the price before, but drivers have to buy it because subsidized government fuel was halted,” said al-Brefkani.

ISIS currently controls the oilfields Najma and Qayara near the northern city of Mosul and another two – Himreen and Ajil – close to the hometown of Saddam Hussein, Tikrit.

The militants seized control of the fields during their mid-June onslaught through the North of Iraq and have kept them intact and in working order. The militants also promised the workers protection if they stayed on at the plant in order to maintain production.

Oil revenues are not the only source of finance for the nascent Islamic state. The militants have implemented a system of taxes and levies for vehicles carrying goods into the city on Mosul. A large truck is required to pay $400, while smaller ones are charged $100 for crossing into the militant-controlled city.

ISIS has gained significant ground in both Syria and Iraq after its initial assault on the city of Mosul in mid-June. The group has since declared the creation of an Islamic state, or caliphate straddling the Iraq-Syria border and continues to advance towards the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Government security forces have proved to be of little use in stemming the onslaught of the well-armed militant group. ISIS has demanded that Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki step down from office as they threaten to attack the Iraqi capital city.

U.S. ADMITS ITS MH17 ‘EVIDENCE’ IS BASED ON YOUTUBE CLIPS & SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS

AP journalist challenges State Department spokesperson on official narrative

by PAUL JOSEPH WATSON | JULY 22, 2014

In a testy exchange between AP reporter Matt Lee and U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, Lee virtually corners Harf into admitting that the “evidence” presented by the U.S. to blame Russian-backed rebels for the shoot down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 amounts to nothing more than YouTube videos and social media posts.

Lee begins by asking Harf how the U.S. plans to produce “forensic evidence” proving Russian-backed rebels were behind the attack, to which Hard responds by reeling off talking points before stating, “we know, we saw in social media afterwards….of the pro-Russian separatists bragging about shooting down an aircraft.”

“How is it exactly that you know it was fired from separatist held territory?” asks Lee, to which Harf responds that the evidence is based on “communications posted on YouTube by the Ukrainian government.”

“Is there anything other….than social media?” asks Lee. Harf alludes to an “assessment,” before again reeling off talking points (based on social media and YouTube videos) that blame separatist rebels.

“All you’re willing to present publicly that backs up your version of the story, which may well be the correct version of the story,” states Lee before being interrupted by Harf who sardonically retorts, “may well be.”

“I haven’t seen your evidence that shows that the missile was launched from rebel held territory,” continues Lee. “The only thing you’re willing to put out publicly is the social media accounts,” he adds, before citing other social media accounts that dispute the State Department’s version of events.

Harf asserts that any version of events that challenges the State Department’s version (based again on social media posts) is “illogical.” Lee states that the State Department’s evidence would not stand up to an international investigation.

“The Russians have said we’ve put out our radar images which show this Ukrainian plane near at least….why don’t you put out your…,” states Lee before again being interrupted by Harf.

Credit must be given to Matt Lee for doing his job and challenging Harf given that any questioning of the official narrative behind the MH17 shoot down, backed up as it is by the flimsiest of “evidence,” has been demonized as “Russian propaganda,” just as skepticism towards last year’s chemical weapons attack in Syria, which an MIT study later concluded was likely not launched by government forces, was derided as “Assad propaganda.”

Despite the State Department’s insistence that YouTube clips and social media posts can be considered as hard evidence, even the veracity of that material has attracted intense skepticism.

Harf’s mention of social media posts which show rebels “bragging” about bringing down the airliner is likely a reference to a post on the Russian version of Facebook shortly after MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian rebel commander Igor Strelkov. However, as Max Fisher documents, “There are real reasons to doubt that the message was genuine.”

First of all Strelkov’s page “is a fake made by fans,” according to rebels who spoke to Buzzfeed’s Max Seddon, so the words cannot even be attributed to the commander. In addition, the post makes reference to the shoot down not of a civilian airliner but to an Antonov AN-26 military transport plane.

“This casts a bit further doubt on the idea that people fired on the airplane and then posted on VK about it; if someone fired on the plane they likely would have noticed it was a large jet and not a small-ish prop plane,” writes Fisher.

Video of a Buk missile launcher apparently crossing the border back to Russia after the plane was shot down which was cited by Kiev and Washington has also since been debunked. The clip is actually shot in the Ukrainian of town of Krasnoarmeisk, which has been controlled by Kiev since May.

According to audio experts who conducted a forensic analysis, a YouTube video of a conversation between a separatist leader and a Russian military commander which purported to show rebels accepting responsibility for shooting down the airliner is in fact a fabrication.

While Russia has presented actual radar and satellite evidence to back up its contention that Ukrainian fighter jets were following the doomed airliner shortly before the incident, the sum of Kiev and Washington’s proof that separatists were to blame for the shoot down amounts to little more than highly questionable YouTube videos and social media posts.

Kiev has also failed to release air traffic control recordings, which were seized immediately by Ukrainian security forces, which could offer a crucial insight into what was happening in the skies immediately prior to the aircraft being shot down.

While any questioning of the narrative behind the incident has been dismissed by the establishment media as “Russian propaganda,” Russia is the only party to have actually presented anything which could be considered real evidence, whereas Washington and Kiev are still reliant on the sort of proof that would only satisfy the sloppiest of Internet conspiracy theorists.