Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Task Force on Denying Terrorists Entry into the United States on what happens to the Islamic State after it loses its territory in Iraq and Syria.
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have entered the Old City of Raqqa after the coalition blew two holes in a historic wall the Islamic State was using as a defensive fortification. The SDF’s fighters first approached the Old City in mid-June, but the wall and heavy fighting in a nearby neighborhood impeded their advance. Meanwhile, an Australian jihadi is featured in a new propaganda video recorded in Raqqa.
The UK Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has released its investigative report on the Aug. 21, 2015 drone strike that killed UK national Reyaad Khan. The bombing was “the first time outside participation in a military campaign that the UK had conducted a lethal drone strike against a terrorist target.” Khan was one of the Islamic State’s most prolific cyber planners.
The Department of Justice announced yesterday that a 24 year-old Ohio man, Terrence J. McNeil, has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges. Prosecutors charged McNeil with soliciting the murders of American servicemen after he republished an Islamic State “hit list” online. The list was first compiled by Junaid Hussain, an Islamic State operative who was subsequently killed in a drone strike in Raqqa, Syria.
The US-led coalition targeted Rachid Kassim near Mosul, Iraq earlier this week. Kassim is an Islamic State operative responsible for “remote-controlling” attacks in France. He has been tied to several plots.
The Islamic State claims to have carried out 1,112 suicide attacks in Iraq and Syria during 2016. Additional suicide bombers were deployed in Libya and elsewhere. If the group’s claims are accurate, then the so-called caliphate has been using “martyrs” at a historically high rate.
Justin Nojan Sullivan has pleaded guilty to terrorism charges, including conspiring with Islamic State operative Junaid Hussain to plan “mass casualty shooting attacks on behalf” of the Islamic State. Hussain, who was killed in an airstrike last year, asked Sullivan to make a video of the attacks and Sullivan agreed. Hussain was one of the Islamic State’s key digital planners.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said today that the Islamic State is planning attacks against the West (“external operations”) from its headquarters in Raqqa, Syria. Townsend didn’t provide any specifics, but the group has used its safe havens to orchestrate multiple plots in the past.