Author Archives: Thomas Joscelyn

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for The Long War Journal.

Al Qaeda and allies gain more ground in Aleppo province

The Jaysh al Fateh alliance captured three more villages in the southern countryside of Aleppo during an offensive that began on June 17. The jihadist-led coalition has made steady gains in Aleppo province since May, further demonstrating al Qaeda’s prowess in guerrilla warfare.


Possible 9/11 hijacking recruit transferred from Guantanamo to Montenegro

The Department of Defense announced the transfer of Abdel Malik Ahmed Abdel Wahab Al Rahabi to the Government of Montenegro. Joint Task Force Guantanamo, President Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force, and a Periodic Review Board all previously deemed Rahabi too dangerous to transfer. A PRB cited his “possible” role in an aborted part of the 9/11 plot, but reversed its decision and eventually approved him for transfer.


Islamic State claims 3 Russian soldiers killed in Syria

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency claims that three Russian soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Syria. The claim could not be immediately verified. In recent days, the Russian-Syrian-Iranian axis has suffered setbacks along the same road where the Russians were allegedly killed. [Update: A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman subsequently denied Amaq’s claim.]


Orlando terrorist swore allegiance to Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al Baghdadi

Omar Mateen mentioned his allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi at least twice during a 911 call the night of his attack on a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He also discussed his allegiance to Baghdadi during a call with the Orlando Police Department’s Crisis Negotiation team and may have posted his fealty on Facebook as well. The Islamic State specifically instructs followers to swear allegiance before dying.




Libyan forces seize key points from the Islamic State around Sirte

The Islamic State is losing ground around Sirte, Libya, which is the so-called “caliphate’s” capital in North Africa. Al Bunyan Al Marsoos military operations room, which draws fighters from Misrata, and other forces have been closing in on Sirte since late May. However, the current status of the fighting is murky.


The Islamic State’s prolific ‘martyrdom’ machine

Amaq News Agency claims that the Islamic State has carried out 489 “martyrdom operations” in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the first five months of 2016, with 119 in May alone. If Amaq’s figures are accurate, then the Islamic State is executing more suicide attacks per month in 2016 than all terrorist organizations combined in 2015.