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.

Presence of French special forces in Libya sets off controversy

A helicopter carrying three French soldiers crashed near Benghazi, Libya on July 17, killing the Frenchmen and their Libyan counterparts on board. A new jihadist front called the Benghazi Defense Brigades quickly claimed credit, saying its fighters downed the helo with a shoulder-fired missile. French President Hollande said it was an “accident.” Either way, jihadists and Islamists are now rattling their sabres at France.


Treasury designates 3 senior al Qaeda members in Iran

The US Treasury Department designated three al Qaeda terrorists today. All three of them are based inside Iran. One of them has served as al Qaeda’s “Military Commission Chief” and was identified in Osama bin Laden’s files as part of a “new generation” of leaders.


Teenager who terrorized German train appears in Islamic State video

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s attack on a train in the German city of Würzburg. Several people were wounded in the assault. Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of the so-called “caliphate”, released a video allegedly showing the attacker, a teenager identified as “Muhammad Riyad.” In the video, Riyad calls on all Muslims to swear allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.


Islamic State claims its ‘soldier’ carried out Bastille Day attack in Nice, France

The Islamic State’s propaganda arms have claimed responsibility for the July 14 attack in Nice, France, saying that a “soldier” of the so-called caliphate carried out a “unique operation.” The statements do not include any details about the terrorist that aren’t already widely known. Counterterrorism officials are still investigating the terrorist’s possible ties.


Ex-Gitmo detainee, Islamic State’s leader in Chechnya designated by State Department

The State Department has added a former Guantanamo detainee, Ayrat Nasimovich Vakhitov, to the US government’s list of designated terrorists. According to press reports, Vakhitov was recently arrested in connection with the terrorist attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport. Also designated today is Aslan Avgazarovich Byutukaev, who leads the Islamic State’s forces in Chechnya.


Osama bin Laden’s son says al Qaeda has grown despite 15 years of war

Al Qaeda has released a new audio message from Hamza bin Laden, Osama’s son and heir. The message was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group. Hamza argues that the number of “mujahideen” has grown dramatically around the globe despite the decade and a half of war that began on Sept. 11, 2001. Hamza also threatens revenge for his father’s death.


Russian helicopter downed by the Islamic State near Palmyra, Syria

Russia initially denied that a helicopter was downed east of Palmyra, Syria. After the Islamic State posted a video of the attack, the Russians conceded that two pilots were killed when the chopper was struck by Islamic State terrorists. Russian propaganda has blamed an American-made TOW missile for bringing down the helicopter, but the video seems to show anti-aircraft fire hitting the tail rotor of the chopper.


Islamic State claims nearly 600 suicide attacks in first six months of 2016

According to statistics provided by Amaq News Agency, which is part of the Islamic State’s propaganda machine, the so-called caliphate deployed 589 suicide bombers in Iraq, Syria and Libya during the first six months of 2016. The figures published by Amaq cannot be independently verified and other sources indicate the figure may be lower. But Amaq’s aggregate statistics are generally consistent with the scale of the Islamic State’s fighting.