Robin Yassin-Kassab writes: Whatever the hearts-and-minds rhetoric at the United Nations, in Syria the Obama administration is feeding the flames of Sunni extremism, and proving once again the truism that the American state is an enemy of the Syrian people (as it’s an enemy, like all states, of all peoples, including the American).
We expected strikes on ISIS. Some of the strongest strikes (and the strikes are far stronger than in Iraq), however, have been aimed at Jabhat al-Nusra (the Victory Front), the organisation from which ISIS split. Nusra is certainly an extremist Salafist group, and is openly linked to al-Qa’ida. Because its ideology terrifies not only minorities but also huge swathes of the Sunni population, it’s also a strategic obstruction in the way of the Syrian revolution. In August 2013 it participated (with ISIS) in the only documented large-scale massacre of Alawi civilians in the conflict. On the other hand, Nusra (unlike ISIS) was until yesterday actually fighting the regime, not other rebel groups. From January, along with every rebel formation, it’s been fighting ISIS too. And its leadership is entirely Syrian. Many Syrians, not necessarily extremist Salafists themselves, admire Nusra’s victories against their most immediate enemy – the Assadist forces dropping barrel bombs on cities and raping and torturing at checkpoints. A sensible answer to Nusra would be to provide weapons and funds to Free Army forces who would then be in a position to gradually draw men from the organisation, slowly making it irrelevant (most men don’t care about the ideology of their militia’s leadership; they care about food and ammunition). But the Americans are allergic to working with the people on the ground most immediately concerned by the outcome, and bomb from the air instead. Nusra is now abandoning front line positions (in some areas the regime may be able to take immediate advantage). One Nusra leader has already spoken of an alliance with ISIS against the Americans.
Syria’s new daily routine: the Americans and Gulf Arabs bomb the Salafist extremists while Assad bombs the Free Army and Islamic Front (and of course civilians – as usual it isn’t being reported, especially not now the televisual US war is on, but about a hundred are being killed every day). The headline in regime newspaper al-Watan reads “America and its Allies in One Trench with the Syrian Army against Terrorism”. The opposition reads it this way too. Several demonstrations yesterday condemned the American strikes, called for America’s fall, and for solidarity with ISIS and Nusra. A sign at one protest read: “Yes, It’s an International Coalition Against Sunnis.” [Continue reading...]
Jabhat Al-Nusra: ‘Why attack us? We didn’t do anything against the U.S. We just want to fight Assad’
— خراسان البلاغ (@khorasan313) September 24, 2014
Mike Giglio reports: At least eight U.S. airstrikes targeted the infamous Syrian rebel group called Jabhat al-Nusra in the last 24 hours. But a week ago, serving tea at his apartment in southern Turkey, an official with the extremist group complained that it gets a bad rap in the U.S. — and that the Obama administration should even see it as an ally.
Nusra is one of the most powerful insurgent forces in Syria’s civil war, with a long record of fighting the regime. It’s also a branch of al-Qaeda. This has seen it blacklisted as a terrorist group by the U.S. and U.N., something that has always angered some of its members, such as the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They say their lone goal is to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — a man whose ouster the Obama administration has called for too. “Why this treatment?” the official asked.
With global attention — and U.S. airstrikes — focused on another extremist group in the region, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, some Nusra members were pushing to mark a clear distinction between the two organizations. Nusra even released a U.S. man it was holding captive — journalist Peter Theo Curtis — as well as 45 U.N. peacekeepers. “They’re just criminals,” the official said of ISIS, making a point of condemning the group for beheading U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. “They’re against the U.S. generally.”
He suggested that Nusra and the U.S., which backs moderate rebel groups inside Syria, were on the same side: “We are fighting with the rebels. We are fighting with their alliance against the other alliance. So why attack us?”
He added: “We didn’t do anything against the U.S. We just want to fight Assad.” [Continue reading...]
Nusra official tells me US strikes hit Ahrar al-Sham too: "They're attacking the strongest groups that are really fighting the regime."
— Mike Giglio (@mike_giglio) September 23, 2014
Nusra often told me they focused on near enemy, not far. If West didn't harm them, they wouldn't harm it-for now #Syriastrikes change that
— Rania Abouzeid (@Raniaab) September 24, 2014
AFP reports: The US says it has hit a little-known group called “Khorasan” in Syria, but experts and activists argue it actually struck Al-Qaeda’s affiliate Al-Nusra Front, which fights alongside Syrian rebels.
In announcing its raids in the northern province of Aleppo on Tuesday, Washington described the group it targeted as Khorasan, a cell of Al-Qaeda veterans planning attacks against the West.
But experts and activists cast doubt on the distinction between Khorasan and Al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch.
“In Syria, no one had ever heard talk of Khorasan until the US media brought it up,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“Rebels, activists and the whole world knows that these positions (hit Tuesday) were Al-Nusra positions, and the fighters killed were Al-Nusra fighters,” added Abdel Rahman, who has tracked the Syrian conflict since it erupted in 2011.
Experts were similarly dubious about the distinction.
“The name refers to Al-Qaeda fighters previously based in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran who have travelled to Syria to fight with… Al-Nusra,” said Matthew Henman, head of IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre.
“They… should not be considered a new or distinct group as such.” [Continue reading...]
McClatchy reports: Anti-government media activists and rebel commanders gave a mixed assessment of U.S.-led airstrikes in northern Syria on Tuesday, saying that some of the Islamic State encampments hit had been evacuated and one building that was struck had been filled with displaced civilians, even as at least one major Islamic State base was seriously damaged and many fighters were killed.
But the greatest damage, they said, may be to the Free Syrian Army, the moderate rebel faction that enjoyed U.S. support for years.
By focusing exclusively on Islamic State insurgents and al Qaida figures associated with the Khorasan unit of the Nusra Front, and bypassing installations associated with the government of President Bashar Assad, the airstrikes infuriated anti-regime Syrians and hurt the standing of moderate rebel groups that are receiving arms and cash as part of a covert CIA operation based in the Turkish border city of Reyhanli.
Rebel fighters argue that they constitute the only friendly ground force available to the international coalition to fill the security vacuum in places that Islamic State fighters are forced to abandon. But rebel commanders said they’d played no role in selecting the targets or planning for the aftermath.
The U.S. informed the Syrian government of the impending airstrikes Monday, the official Syrian news agency reported, but no one dropped a hint to the inner circle of rebel commanders. They learned about it from the news. [Continue reading...]
“We don’t have any specific, credible information about specific plans that they [the "Khorasan Group"] had. On the other hand, the intelligence did lead us to believe that they were in the process of getting very close to the execution phase of general plans that we know that they were interested in,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in an interview today with Yahoo’s Katie Couric.
“So for some time now we’ve been tracking plots to conduct attacks in the United States or Europe. We believe that that attack plotting was imminent, in that they had plans to conduct attacks external to Syria,” said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser at the White House.
Close to the execution phase of general plans? Imminent plotting for an attack somewhere outside Syria?
The New York Times reports:
[O]ne senior counterterrorism official, who insisted on anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the group might not have chosen the target, method or even the timing for a strike. An intelligence official said separately that the group was “reaching a stage where they might be able to do something.”
When government officials make vacuous statements like these and warn about the “imminent” threat posed by America’s latest diabolical foe, is it any wonder that conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones find it so easy to capture a mass audience?
Those Americans less inclined to question official statements and willing to accept that airstrikes against a terrorist group they never heard of must nevertheless be a good thing if that group was about to attack the U.S., would be well advised to ask this question: does an administration that just presented its strategy for degrading and destroying ISIS, actually have a clear strategy if its war against ISIS is now also targeting one of ISIS’s principal adversaries?
What is being discussed is not a “new terrorist group,” but rather a specialized cell that has gradually been established within, or on, the fringes of an already existing al-Qaeda franchise, the so-called Nusra Front. What this seems to be about is a jihadi cell consisting of veteran al-Qaeda members who have arrived to the Nusra Front in Syria from abroad, mainly via Iran, and who are in direct contact with al-Qaeda’s international leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, himself believed to be based in Pakistan.
Whatever one decides to call it, this is not likely to be an independent organization, but rather a network-within-the-network, assigned to deal with specific tasks. Most likely it has no fixed name at all, and the “Khorasan Group” label has simply been invented for convenience by U.S. intelligence or adopted from informal references within the Nusra Front to these men as being, for example, “our brothers from Khorasan.”
The issue of the name is significant because it appears that from the vantage point of most Syrians, the U.S. strikes were simply strikes on Nusra and the implications are clear:
You can debate whether hitting ISIS really helps the Syrian regime. But whatever its merits, hitting Nusra definitely does.
— Mike Giglio (@mike_giglio) September 23, 2014
U.S. officials have repeatedly said that a campaign of airstrikes against ISIS will not accomplish its ultimate goal of destroying the organization without a ground operation involving Syrian opposition fighters. How will those fighters be recruited if the U.S. is seen as having already further undermined the war against Assad?
Targeting Nusra in #Aleppo can be viewed as a direct help for Assad forces
— al-Gharib الغريب (@troublejee) September 23, 2014
Whatever the U.S. might claim about imminent plots being hatched by the Khorasan Group, its leader is apparently viewed as having played a crucial role in the fight against Assad. Indeed, it seems somewhat more plausible that a guy who trains snipers would be focused on the war in Syria rather than some vague plot directed elsewhere.
The US air raid targeted a JN trainer He is a very well known figure & an important asset for jihad in sniping training Abu Yusuf AlTurki
— أبوالحسنين الشامي (@MohammedGhazzal) September 23, 2014
Whether attacking Jabhat al Nusra has made America any safer is highly debatable but it seems much more likely this will help ISIS — and Assad.
Will these U.S. bombs align Jabhat al Nusra and the Islamic State back together into a single front (even undeclared)?
— Daniele Raineri (@DanieleRaineri) September 23, 2014
And lastly there’s this footnote: New evidence that Twitter obediently takes directions from the U.S. government:
Observation: about 5 hours before the US airstrikes started in #Syria all main Jabhat an-Nusra accounts got deleted (again) by Twitter …
— Pieter Van Ostaeyen (@p_vanostaeyen) September 23, 2014
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) September 23, 2014
Vast majority of strikes were American, not by a coalition partner, the Pentagon admits: “The math supports that.” http://t.co/8n45zHQuvu
— Tom McCarthy (@TeeMcSee) September 23, 2014
ABC News reports: Today is the first time President Obama has uttered the word “Khorasan” in public.
Indeed, we can find no example of any White House official ever mentioning this al Qaeda cell by name in public. The group has never even been mentioned in any of the White House background briefings on the terrorist threat emanating from Syria (and there have been several such briefings).
It’s quite extraordinary to see military action against a group the White House has never talked about.
There is one official outside the White House who did talk about Khorasan, briefly, last week. James Clapper had this to say Thursday at an intelligence conference in Washington: “In terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State.”
Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, may have revealed more than the administration wanted to reveal. The White House was trying to keep this quiet to avoid tipping the group off that it might be targeted.
The Wall Street Journal reports: The first U.S. airstrikes inside Syria, announced by the Pentagon on Monday night, went beyond hitting the Islamic State militant group, also targeting a second extremist group that U.S. officials say represents a more direct threat to the U.S. homeland.
The U.S. targeted camps and other buildings in Syria used by the Khorasan group, whose members have plotted attacks against Western airliners, officials said.
The strikes appear to represent an expansion of the U.S. mission beyond the goals outlined by President Barack Obama earlier this month, when he said U.S. military action would be designed to roll back the territorial gains made by Islamic State militants.
U.S. officials have viewed Khorasan with growing alarm in recent weeks and some have said it would be irresponsible to strike in Syria and not take aim at an al Qaeda affiliate long considered to be dangerous to the U.S. and its allies.
Islamic State militants are seen as primarily focused on taking and holding territory in Iraq and Syria, with attacks on the U.S. representing a secondary goal. It severed its ties with al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan.
Khorasan, on the other hand, has followed the direction of al Qaeda leadership and made strikes on U.S. targets its prime focus. Khorasan’s plotting against airliners to target the U.S. prompted the U.S. to step up airline security over the summer, a U.S. official said.
The U.S. military said Tuesday that it conducted eight strikes against the Khorasan group. Unlike overnight strikes conducted against Islamic State targets, which involved Arab countries, the operations against Khorasan were conducted only by U.S. forces. A Pentagon announcement said the Khorasan group was using Syria as a safe haven to develop “external attacks” construct improvised bombs and recruit westerners and was in the advanced stages of planning. [Continue reading...]
Reuters adds: Fifty Al Qaida-linked Nusra Front fighters were killed in strikes over the course of the morning in the northwestern province of Syria. Eight civilians, including three children, were also among the fatalities in the strikes on Aleppo.
McClatchy reports: The green and white flag fluttering above a border checkpoint not far from the Ein Zivan kibbutz on a recent afternoon symbolized the new reality that has taken hold for Israelis who live on the Golan Heights: Islamist rebels now control areas of Syria on the very doorstep of Israeli-controlled land.
For now, the groups, which include al-Qaida’s Nusra Front, are focused on consolidating their positions and pushing toward the Syrian capital, Damascus. But there are worries in Israel that once the Islamist militants establish control, they will turn their guns toward the Israeli-held sector of the Golan.
“Right now it’s not on their agenda, but it’s inevitable,” said Eyal Zisser, an expert on Syria at Tel Aviv University.
Just how big a threat the rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad are to Israel remains an open topic. Israel has tried to remain aloof from the war in Syria, except to blast Syrian government convoys from the air that Israeli officials feared were transferring sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah, Israel’s Lebanese nemesis. Israel’s reaction even to the beheading by the Islamic State of American journalist Steven Sotloff, who held Israeli citizenship, was muted; officials explained they didn’t want to become embroiled in the conflict.
But with the capture Aug. 27 of the Syrian side of the Quneitra border crossing, Islamist rebels now occupy land adjacent to the Israeli section of the strategic plateau, changing the calculus of concern. Despite attempts by the Syrian army to reassert control, the rebels have captured more villages near the Israeli-held Golan, raising the prospect that the frontier area will become a stronghold of Islamist groups. [Continue reading...]
The Independent reports: Al-Qaeda appealed to Isis to release the British hostage Alan Henning because it believed he was an innocent aid worker who was genuinely trying to help suffering Muslims, it can be revealed.
In evidence that the depravity exhibited by Isis is now repelling Muslims of all views and backgrounds, even the terrorist group behind the 11 September attacks on the US in 2001 decided that kidnapping the aid-convoy volunteer was a step too far.
Mr Henning, a taxi driver from Eccles, Salford, was so moved by the plight of Muslims in Syria that he decided to miss last Christmas with his wife and two children and travel 4,000 miles to deliver medical equipment to refugees holed up in the town of Al-Dana. A local commander – or emir – of Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, visited his then-allies in Isis four days after Mr Henning, 47, was captured. The emir confronted the kidnappers, arguing that their actions were “wrong under Islamic law” and “counter-productive”, according to a journalist who interviewed the man immediately after the encounter. [Continue reading...]
AFP reports: Powerful Al-Qaeda branches in Yemen and North Africa called Tuesday for jihadists in Iraq and Syria to unite against the common threat from a US-led coalition.
In an unprecedented joint statement, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) urged their “brothers” in Iraq and Syria to “stop killing each other and unite against the American campaign and its evil coalition that threatens us all.”
The Al-Qaeda leadership has disavowed the main target of the US-led campaign, the Islamic State (IS) group that has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, and has its own branch fighting in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front.
But the joint statement, released on two jihadist Twitter accounts, called for differences to be set aside in the face of the growing coalition. [Continue reading...]
Lawrence Wright writes: On the bottom floor of the United States Capitol’s new underground visitors’ center, there is a secure room where the House Intelligence Committee maintains highly classified files. One of those files is titled “Finding, Discussion and Narrative Regarding Certain Sensitive National Security Matters.” It is twenty-eight pages long. In 2002, the Administration of George W. Bush excised those pages from the report of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. President Bush said then that publication of that section of the report would damage American intelligence operations, revealing “sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror.”
“There’s nothing in it about national security,” Walter Jones, a Republican congressman from North Carolina who has read the missing pages, contends. “It’s about the Bush Administration and its relationship with the Saudis.” Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, told me that the document is “stunning in its clarity,” and that it offers direct evidence of complicity on the part of certain Saudi individuals and entities in Al Qaeda’s attack on America. “Those twenty-eight pages tell a story that has been completely removed from the 9/11 Report,” Lynch maintains. Another congressman who has read the document said that the evidence of Saudi government support for the 9/11 hijacking is “very disturbing,” and that “the real question is whether it was sanctioned at the royal-family level or beneath that, and whether these leads were followed through.” Now, in a rare example of bipartisanship, Jones and Lynch have co-sponsored a resolution requesting that the Obama Administration declassify the pages.
The Saudis have also publicly demanded that the material be released. “Twenty-eight blanked-out pages are being used by some to malign our country and our people,” Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who was the Saudi Ambassador to the United States at the time of the 9/11 attacks, has declared. “Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.”
The effort to declassify the document comes at a time when a lawsuit, brought ten years ago on behalf of the victims of the attacks and their families, along with the insurers who paid out claims, is advancing through the American court system. [Continue reading...]
Amil Khan writes: Abdel Majed Abdel Bary, the rapper suspected of murdering American journalist James Foley somewhere between Syria and Iraq, is the product of a British youth culture that has managed to merge two seemingly contradictory lifestyles: gangsta rap and jihad. Like Douglas McAuthur McCain — an American hip-hop fan who was recently killed fighting for the Islamic State — Abdel Bary represents a new and very scary evolution in modern jihadi history.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently described the Islamic State as a threat “beyond anything we’ve ever seen.” Yet we are only just beginning to grasp what is different about this group. One reason is that it includes men in its ranks whom you might expect to see in a nightclub rather than fighting in the desert for an organization that would, traditionally, whip you for listening to music.
As a result of this cultural elasticity, the Islamic State has succeeded in attracting supporters outside its natural recruiting pool. Both McCain and another Westerner, Denis Mamadou Cuspert, a German citizen who died fighting with the Islamic State — and had a previous life as rapper Deso Dogg with three albums to his name — became converts as part of this broader appeal.
I first began to look into this hybrid phenomenon in 2008 when I was a journalist researching a subculture that had fused the extremism and violence of gangsta rap with that of al Qaeda — or at least a version of it. During a months-long investigation for British television station Channel 4, I met dozens of young men across London who tended to have three things in common: a history of criminal activity, an ambition to be a gangsta rapper and a fixation with the terrorist group begun by Osama bin Laden. [Continue reading...]
Reuters reports: Israel’s frontier with Syria, where militants have kidnapped 45 U.N. peacekeepers, has become a magnet for Islamist activity and Israel itself is now a target, the defense minister and security analysts said on Tuesday.
The Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda-linked group fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has established a major presence in the region, analysts said, and is poised to carry out attacks across the barren borderlands where Syria, Israel and Jordan converge.
Iran meanwhile is seeking to expand its influence in the region via its support for Assad and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, all of which are allied against the Sunni insurgency confronting Assad, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said.
“Iran’s fingerprints can be seen in Syria, including in the Golan Heights, in attempts to use terror squads against us,” Yaalon told an economic conference as he set out the combined threat from Islamist groups in Syria.
In their latest assault, Nusra Front fighters seized 45 Fijians serving as U.N. monitors in the demilitarized zone on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria. It is demanding to be removed from global terrorism lists in exchange for their release.
“We now have Jabhat al-Nusra, which is basically al Qaeda, on the border with Israel, and Israel is a legitimate target for Muslim militants all over,” said Aviv Oreg, a retired Israeli intelligence officer and a specialist on al Qaeda.
Oreg said it was only “a matter of time” before the Islamist groups now engaged in fighting in Syria turn more of their attention towards Israel.
“I cannot tell you exactly when, but it’s very risky. It only needs one suicide bomber to cross the fence and attack an Israeli military patrol or a tractor full of farmers going to work in the fields…”
But while Israel may be growing alarmed, it is not clear that the Jewish state is a strategic priority for Nusra or other radical Sunni Muslim groups.
Their focus since 2011 has been the overthrow of Assad, a campaign that has bogged down from infighting in their ranks and Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah’s intervention on the side of Assad.
If Israel is attacked in any serious way, the retaliation would likely be intense, setting back the insurgency and opening the way for Assad’s forces to further reclaim the initiative. [Continue reading...]
Hassan Hassan writes: This past week was one of drawing parallels. Saudi Arabia’s top cleric condemned Isis’s behaviour, but authorities there have beheaded at least 19 convicts since 4 August. Many of those who condemned the summary execution of Isis rivals celebrated Hamas’s execution of 18 suspected informants. While the world’s attention was focused on Isis, a like-minded Shia militia attacked a Sunni mosque in the Iraqi province of Diyala on Friday, killing nearly 70 worshippers. This militia is linked to the government and has fought alongside the security forces against Isis.
The American defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, warned last Thursday that Isis is “beyond anything that we’ve seen before”. And yet the causes that led to the rise of Isis are all too familiar. And the Americans have contributed their share to these causes.
Isis thrive on the inconsistencies and injustices that plague the region. A response to Isis cannot involve, for example, working with a government-linked militia that indiscriminately kills worshippers, while rhetorically recognising that a credible and viable political process is necessary for Iraq. Nor does it involve flirting with the Assad regime to fight Isis after it killed or caused the death of close to 200,000 people. The battle against Isis, which itself came on the heels of failure to address the root causes of al-Qaida before it, has to be far-reaching and consistent. Otherwise, the defeat of Isis will only give way to an even more extreme and formidable force.
Yemen Times reports: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) published a statement on its Al-Manbar website on August 14 announcing support for the operations of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which now calls itself the Islamic State, in Iraq.
“We announce solidarity with our Muslim brothers in Iraq against the crusade. Their blood and injuries are ours and we will surely support them,” the statement read. “We assert to the Islamic Nation [all Muslims worldwide] that we stand by the side of our Muslim brothers in Iraq against the American and Iranian conspiracy and their agents of the apostate Gulf rulers.”
Many observers note that AQAP and ISIL are using similar tactics and are exchanging strategy and advice.
“Based on our experience with drones, we advise our brothers in Iraq to be cautious about spies among them because they are a key factor in setting goals; be cautious about dealing with cell phones and internet networks; do not gather in large numbers or move in large convoys; spread in farms or hide under trees in the case of loud humming of warplanes; and dig sophisticated trenches because they reduce the impact of shelling,” read the AQAP statement. [Continue reading...]
AFP reports: Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh on Tuesday blasted Al-Qaeda and Islamic State jihadists as “enemy number one” of Islam, in a statement issued in Riyadh.
“The ideas of extremism, radicalism and terrorism… have nothing to do with Islam and (their proponents) are the enemy number one of Islam,” the kingdom’s top cleric said.
He cited jihadists from the Islamic State, which has declared a “caliphate” straddling large parts of Iraq and Syria, and the global Al-Qaeda terror network.
“Muslims are the main victims of this extremism, as shown by crimes committed by the so-called Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and groups linked to them,” the mufti said, quoting a verse in the Koran urging the “killing” of people who do deeds harmful to Islam.
His stance reflects the Saudi clerical community’s hostility towards IS jihadists, known for their brutality. [Continue reading...]