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Gen. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said US advisers should be deployed to Iraq's Anbar province, where Iraqi troops are battling the advance of the Islamic State. US officials said that the rate of foreign fighters flowing into Syria, about 1,000 per month, is remaining constant; this appears to be the case despite the US air campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and US requests to Turkey to help stem the flow of foreign fighters. US officials also said that 20 to 30 former Gitmo detainees have joined the Islamic State or other jihadist groups in Syria. Donald Ray Morgan, 44, of North Carolina, was charged with attempting to join a terrorist organization; in August he had tried to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.
The Homeland Security Department said security will be stepped up around federal government buildings in Washington and in other US cities due to the threat of terrorism. Robel Phillipos, a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was convicted of lying to investigators.
The coordinator of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, Ret. US Gen. John Allen, urged partner nations to "clearly, forcefully and consistently" reject the Islamic State's ideology and provide alternatives to it. ISAF said its main focus in Afghanistan will be missions to "train, advise, and assist" Afghan forces and that the extent to which ISAF will provide air support remains undecided. The US military conducted four airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, and the coalition carried out seven strikes against the group in Iraq.
The US handed over Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan's Helmand province to the Afghan government. The US military continued its campaign against the Islamic State yesterday, carrying out five airstrikes against the group in Syria, and 12 airstrikes in Iraq in coordination with partner nations.
The Pentagon said yesterday that US and coalition aircraft have flown some 6,600 sorties against Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria and conducted 623 airstrikes, of which 553 were carried out by the US and the other 70 by nine other nations; US officials warned that Iraqi forces will not be ready for months to conduct a counteroffensive against the Islamic State. The New York City Police Department urged increased vigilance after Zale Thompson, a Muslim convert who had ranted against the US and Christians and advocated violent jihad on social media, used a hatchet to attack a group of four NYC policemen yesterday, injuring two. Thompson was shot dead at the scene; authorities are investigating alleged Islamist links. The top US military official in Korea said he believes North Korea is now capable of producing a miniaturized nuclear device for a missile warhead.
US officials plan a federal court prosecution for Irek Hamidullan, a veteran jihadist from Russia who led attacks on US troops in Afghanistan. He is thought to have links to Islamist fighters in Chechnya. Abu Omar Aqidi, a senior member of the Al Nusrah Front, said Islamic State hostage Peter Kassig, an American medic, had treated him and other jihadists in Syria. The Pentagon said Syrian opposition fighters to be trained by the US will receive basic defensive training but admitted that they "won't have the decisive effect" against the Islamic State. Three teenage girls from Denver who tried to travel to Syria have returned home after being intercepted by authorities in Germany.
US and coalition forces carried out 22 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, all in Kobane except for one in Deir al Zour; today's strikes were the most intense targeting yet by the coalition in Kobane. US forces also carried out one airstrike in Iraq against the group. President Obama met with coalition partners to discuss strategy against the Islamic State. The US and Russia agreed to begin sharing intelligence on the Islamic State. The Justice Department added 17 new charges against Ahmed Abu Khatallah, including that he led an Ansar al Sharia-linked militia, and that he conspired to attack the US mission in Benghazi and kill American citizens. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno warned that the 2012 plan to cut the active-duty force from 570,000 to 450,000 must be revised, as seven of the Army's 10 divisions are currently deployed around the globe, and "military risk is increasing exponentially" due in part to "mistaken assumptions about the number, duration, location and size of future force conflicts, and the need to conduct post-stability operations."
The FBI has posted a video showing an American appearing in Islamic State propaganda, in an attempt to identify him. Mohammed Hamzah Khan, a US citizen from Bolingbrook, Ill., was arrested on Oct. 4 at O'Hare Airport as he was trying to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State. US intelligence officials said that recent US airstrikes in Syria against al Qaeda's "Khorasan group" cell have not disrupted the cell's operations. At least one cell member, French jihadist David Drugeon, is thought to have escaped the strikes. The Justice Department has already charged 10 people this year for seeking to join terrorist groups abroad, a marked increase over the five US prosecutions on similar charges from 2011 to 2013.
In the biggest day yet in the air campaign against the Islamic State, the US and the UK jointly launched 24 strikes against the group in Iraq and Syria, bringing the totals so far to 233 in Iraq and at least 62 in Syria. The US signed an agreement with the new Afghan government to allow 9,800 US troops to remain in Afghanistan until 2015 to train and advise Afghan security forces; some of the US troops will also conduct counterterrorism missions. NATO signed an agreement permitting up to 3,000 NATO troops to remain in Afghanistan along with the US troops. The State Department tried to define the term "Khorasan group"; the group is simply al Qaeda. The US added Harakat-ul-Mujahideen leader Fazle-ur-Rahman Khalil to its terrorist lists, as well as two Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operatives and two businesses linked to LeT.
President Obama said US intelligence had underestimated the threat posed by the Islamic State and overestimated the Iraqi Army's ability to confront the group. He also said part of the solution will be military. "We just have to push them back, and shrink their space, and go after their command and control, and their capacity, and their weapons, and their fueling, and cut off their financing, and work to eliminate the flow of foreign fighters." House Speaker Boehner recommended that Congress consider a resolution authorizing the use of force for this mission, even though Obama already has the power to order airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's Syrian branch, warned of retaliation for the US campaign in Syria. Alton Nolen, a recent Muslim convert charged in the Sept. 25 beheading of a woman in Oklahoma City, had posted Islamist messages on social media, including "America and Israel are wicked. Wake up Muslims!!!"; authorities are saying there is no link to terrorism.
National Security Adviser Rice declined to say when the US would begin launching airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria. The White House said President Obama would not have to approve each and every strike. Army chief of staff General Odierno said the deployment of ground troops remains an option for the planners of the US-led military intervention against the IS.
A divided House of Representatives voted to authorize the training and arming of Syrian rebels. President Obama said the US will degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State by means of airstrikes against IS targets in Iraq and Syria, training and equipping "partners," including Iraqi troops, and by leading a broad coalition against the group; he vowed that he will not commit US troops to another ground war in Iraq. Vice President Biden said the decision to commit US ground troops in Iraq will depend on how the current strategy works. Joint chiefs chair General Dempsey said that 24 of the Iraqi Army's 50 brigades are not credible US partners. Calling the Islamic State a long-term threat to the US and Europe, Army chief of staff General Odierno said airstrikes alone will not root out extremists in Iraq, ground troops will also be needed, and that extremists cannot be permitted a safe haven in Syria. Mufid A. Elfgeeh, of Rochester, New York, was indicted for helping three men try to join ISIS in Syria and for planning to murder US troops who had returned from Iraq. The Islamic State released a video threatening retaliation against the US.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, head of the Joint Chiefs, said the US troops in Iraq are working in a "combat advisory role" now but that if circumstances evolved he might recommend that they "provide close combat advising" or accompany particular missions. Lawmakers are considering measures for providing arms and training to Syrian rebels. Senior US officials warned that the US will retaliate if Syrian forces attack US aircraft launching strikes in Syria. Secretary of State Kerry said that although the US will not cooperate militarily with Iran in fighting the Islamic State, the US is willing to talk to Iran about the fight against the terrorist organization. NATO ally Turkey has refused US requests to join the coalition against the Islamic State. President Obama is sending 3,000 US troops to Africa to help combat the alarming spread of the Ebola virus.
Secretary of State Kerry said the US will not coordinate airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria with the Assad government, but that the US will try to ensure that US and Syrian forces do not conflict with each other. He also said airstrikes alone will not defeat the IS, and stated that the fighting on the ground in Syria would be done by opposition forces backed up by US and allied air support. The FBI in Minneapolis is looking into the recruitment of young women and men in the area by Islamist extremists, including the Islamic State.
The Pentagon said yesterday that the US has carried out about 160 airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq over the last month, and that it is preparing to "to be more aggressive going forward" in the US counterterrorism campaign. The Pentagon also plans to oversee training of some 5,000 Syrian rebels in Saudi Arabia over the next 12 months. US officials are concerned about possible collaboration between AQAP, al Qaeda operatives in Syria, and Western jihadists who may be jointly planning attacks against the West.
The CIA now estimates that the Islamic State has between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters in Syria and Iraq. Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to Syria and Iraq, said the US currently has no clue who the non-Islamic State opposition is in Syria. Retired Gen. John R. Allen has been chosen to coordinate the military effort against the Islamic State. US combat aircraft will soon start flying from a base in Irbil in Iraq. Ten Arab states -- Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq -- agreed to support the US-led coalition against the Islamic State "as appropriate." The US sent 20 troops to the Central African Republic as a prelude to reopening the embassy, which has been closed since late 2012.
President Obama announced a counterterrorism strategy against the Islamic State that will include airstrikes in Syria as well as Iraq and will see 475 additional US troops dispatched to Iraq; the US will lead a "broad coalition" against the IS, and the strategy will center around US air power supporting "partner forces on the ground." He also urged Congress to approve $500 million to train and equip "moderate" Syrian rebels, and vowed that the US "will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq." Secretary of State Kerry said US ground troops would be deployed in Iraq only if "very dramatic" changes called for it. A senior official said the US is very concerned that instability in Libya is conducive to its use by terrorists sending weapons and fighters to Iraq and Syria; he also said some militias there have expressed interest in IS.
President Obama told senior lawmakers he has the authority to carry out the plans for action against the Islamic State that he will announce tomorrow. The family of slain American journalist Stephen Sotloff claimed that his whereabouts in Syria was sold to the ISIS by a so-called moderate Syrian rebel group; the White House denied the report. The US is seeking to bolster intelligence cooperation with Jordan in the fight against the Islamic State. The US is ending its contracts with a security clearance contractor after it experienced a cyberattack in August that compromised the personal files of up to 25,000 Homeland Security employees.
Defense Secretary Hagel, meeting with the Erdogan government in Turkey to discuss strategy against the Islamic State, said the Obama administration will need to consider the ending as well as the beginning of any broader military action against the Islamic State; President Obama has said he will address the topic on Sept. 10. US intelligence officials are monitoring the possibility that commercial jets said to be missing from Tripoli Airport in Libya might be used for terrorist attacks.
The US targeted Shabaab leaders in an airstrike in south central Somalia. The US is deploying an additional 350 troops to protect the American Embassy in Iraq. A Marine helicopter crashed into the Gulf of Aden while trying to land on a Navy ship; all 25 passengers were rescued.