On Aug. 29, the Treasury Department announced that Salim Mustafa Muhammad al-Mansur had been added to the US government’s list of specially designated global terrorists. The move was made in conjunction with the Iraqi government. Al-Mansur served as the Islamic State’s “finance emir for Mosul,” Iraq as of earlier this year, but he has “moved to Turkey.”
The Iraqi government announced the liberation of Tal Afar in northern Iraq earlier today. The offensive to retake the city began on Aug. 20 and progressed quickly. Three Iraqi army divisions, the Counterterrorism Service, Federal Police, the Popular Mobilization Forces and Kurdish Regional Government Peshmerga all took part and were backed by the US-led coalition.
Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, claimed the aircraft made “a precautionary landing for a maintenance issue.”
The Taliban released a statement attributed to its emir, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who says that “peace” is only possible if the “occupation” is ended. The statement is entirely self-serving and contains absurd claims. For example, Akhundzada writes that the Taliban wants a “free, independent and progressive Afghanistan,” which is completely inconsistent with the group’s ideology and history.
The US-led coalition carried out an air strike to block Islamic State fighters from reaching eastern Syria after they were evacuated from Lebanon. As part of the deal, the Islamic State was to hand over the body of an IRGC fighter who has become a household name in Iran.
While such tactics may be viewed as reactionary or defensive, if the Afghan government wants to arrest Taliban gains, the Taliban must be forced to pay a heavy price for massing and striking outposts, bases, and district centers.
The Taliban continues to demonstrate that it can conduct concurrent operations across the country, while Afghan forces largely remain on the defensive.
The Islamic State’s Khorasan province, like the main branch in Iraq and Syria, has had no qualms about targeting Afghan civilians, particularly Shiites, in mass-casualty suicide attacks in mosques and other locations.
Jihadists loyal to the Islamic State overran a checkpoint manned by the Libyan National Army (LNA) yesterday. A spokesman for the LNA confirmed that 11 victims were beheaded.
For decades the country has permitted a number of jihadist groups to openly operate under its aegis. A map highlights the more prominent groups openly operating inside Pakistan.
Pakistan’s denial of harboring terrorist groups that conduct attacks outside of its borders falls flat on its face when looking at Lashkar-e-Taiba, which not only supports al Qaeda and the Taliban, but has executed numerous attacks inside of Pakistan’s neighbor and enemy, India, as well as in Afghanistan.
An Islamic State production featuring the young man responsible for stabbing rampage in the Russian city of Surgat is similar to past videos released by the group. The jihadist swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi before his day of terror. The video also contains a clip of a young Russian child beheading a captive.
The Taliban continues to demonstrate that it can conduct concurrent operations across the country, while Afghan forces largely remain on the defensive. The district of Khamab in Jawzjan has gone back and forth between Taliban and government control over the past several years.
Taliban spokesman Zahibullah Mujahid denounced Trump’s decision to remain engaged in Afghanistan and said that Taliban fighters will “sustain our Jihad.” Additionally he repeated the canard that the Taliban does not pose a threat to foreign countries.
With words unprecedented for a US president, Trump called out Pakistan for harboring and supporting terrorist groups that target and kill US citizens and said there would be a radical change in policy toward the South Asian nation. Trump indicated the US would work to increase ties with India, Pakistan’s neighbor and greatest enemy, a move sure to both enrage as well as frighten Pakistani elites.
A complete US withdrawal from Afghanistan would have been disastrous. The US government needs to drastically reassess America’s jihadist enemies and avoid the policy pitfalls of the past.
Bashar al Assad’s forces and allies are advancing on the Islamic State’s stronghold in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor. The two sides have fought in Deir Ezzor for years and the Assad regime is hoping to turn the tide of battle with the help of Russian airpower.
The US State Department announced today that Islamic State leaders Ahmad Alkhald and Abu Yahya al-Iraqi have been named specially designated global terrorists. Alkhald was the “explosives chief” for the “terrorist cell” that carried out Nov. 2015 assault in Paris and the Mar. 2016 Brussels bombings. Al-Iraqi “oversees ISIS security in Iraq and Syria.”
The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency claims that the attack in Barcelona, Spain today was carried out by the group’s “soldiers.” The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a string of operations in which terrorists drove a van or truck into a crowd.
The Taliban, which continues to make inroads in Kandahar province, released a video flaunting a bounty of weapons, ammunition and military equipment after it overran bases and outposts in Khakrez and Shah Wali Kot.
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced three more strikes on Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and East Africa, over the past two days. All three took place in Shabaab-held territory.
The brief designation omitted Hizbul Mujahideen’s support for al Qaeda in the past, as well as its relations with other jihadist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba. Hizbul Mujahideen’s emir was officially listed as a global terrorist in June 2017.
The Taliban has released an “open letter” to President Trump urging him to “adopt the strategy of a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan instead of a troops increase.” The propaganda letter contains several erroneous or misleading claims. It is also disingenuous with respect to the jihadist threat emanating out of Afghanistan.
Suspected jihadists laid siege to a popular restaurant with Westerners in the capital of Burkina Faso. Two UN bases were also attacked by jihadists in Mali.
The Afghan Taliban has again retaken control of the district of Ghormach in Faryab province. The remote district has changed hands twice in less than two years.
The 17th edition of AQAP’s Inspire magazine provides a how-to guide for building a train derailment device. Al Qaeda has plotted against trains in the West in the past.
The commander, known as Abdul Rahman, was a candidate to take control of Khorasan province after the US killed the previous emir last month.
US Africa Command launched two “kinetic strikes” against Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia and East Africa, today. The US military has targeted Shabaab three times over the past two weeks.
Jani Khel in Paktia province has changed hands three times over the past two weeks. The loss of Jani Khel to the Taliban demonstrates the difficulties Afghan forces face in holding onto remote contested districts.
The milestone marks the first instance the US will designate the military branch of a foreign country for terrorism.