It’s been a while since we’ve heard a lot about the so-called Islamic State. Since the "defeat" of ISIS in Iraq and the majority of Syria, much of the focus in the war-torn regions of the Middle East has been on: the ongoing pissing match between the United States, Russia and Turkey in Syria, what will become of the civilians whose lives were shattered during the Syrian Civil War, hostilities between Iran and damn near everyone, Palestinian rights, and what the Israelis have cooking in regards to Gaza and the protection of their populace from a variety of aggressors.
Would you be surprised to learn that ISIS is still kind of a big deal? Because it sort of sounds like the United Nations was. According to the CBC, a report from U.N. Terrorism experts says that ISIS is still doing fine, thank you very much, boasting as many as 30,000 members stationed in Syria and Iraq. However, after multiple ass-kickings at the hands of professional and volunteer military forces across the Middle East, they’ve decided to tone things down a bit. That overt, "we're gonna build a freaking caliphate" look of theirs? SO last year. Currently, ISIS is playing it cool by conducting covert operations in its bases of operation while the terrorist group regroups and rebuilds.
From The CBC:
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While many ISIS fighters, planners and commanders have been killed in fighting, and many other fighters and supporters have left the immediate conflict zone, the experts said many still remain in the two countries — some engaged militarily, "and others hiding out in sympathetic communities and urban areas."
If you're not up to speed on Hobby Lobby's sketchy investments in illegal artifacts from Iraq, here's the lowdown. Read the rest
Defense Secretary James Mattis has announced a criminal investigation into the misuse of $458,000,000 that the US government gave to Iraq and Afghanistan to build out mass-scale domestic surveillance apparatus and other "anti-terrorism" capabilities.
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David French served as squadron judge advocate for the Second Squadron, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, stationed at Forward Operating Base Caldwell in Diyala Province, Iraq; he walked patrol with other soldiers, during which he and his colleagues confronted routine armed aggression from insurgents out of uniform, who used IEDs as well as firearms in their fights with US soldiers.
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When Rep Tim Murphy resigned in shame after he was outed for pressuring his mistress to get an abortion while serving on the "House Pro-Life Caucus," it triggered a special election in Pennsylvania's 18th, a rustbelt district in the southwest corner of the state, where a strong Democrat candidate named Conor Lamb is polling high against his Republican opponent, torture advocate Rick Saccone, who served as an Army intelligence support consultant at Abu Ghraib prison after its torture scandal.
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Journalist Ammar Alwaely was filming with a colleague when a bullet tore through his shoulder-mounted GoPro, deflecting it from tearing through him. Contains plenty of NSFW swearing, which seems entirely appropriate. Read the rest
There's no question of ISIS batallion leader Abu Taha's guilt. But Taha's is a nom de guerre, so when Taha is executed for killing dozens of Iraqis, Malik Khamis Habib dies with him. Rotting in a jail cell, what is he thinking? Kim Dozier, returning to the middle east after being critically wounded there, interviews someone few would sympathize with but everyone can now understand.
Why did you join ISIS? I asked.
“Someone from my neighborhood came to me. He explained we must make a change, that Shias were hurting Sunnis.”
Did you ever know a Sunni personally who was hurt by a Shia Muslim, I asked?
“No. Just rumors,” he admitted. ...
My translator pushed him to explain his role in dispatching car bombs. He later told me this brought back some bad memories for him, too. Sporting a 101st Airborne sweatshirt and reciting proudly the designation of the 3rd Infantry Division unit he’d also served, he explained he’d lost five U.S. battle buddies in a car bomb that hit his team years earlier. He’d been thrown 50 feet, escaping with a concussion, broken bones, and the sadness of a survivor. He knew this prisoner had dispatched such car bombs against Iraqis, and he too wanted to know why.
“What do you want me to say,” the prisoner asked. “I destroyed myself. I destroyed my family.”
He has a message for Americans, too. Read the rest
James McCormick, a British fraudster, got rich and got jailed selling fake bomb detectors to police in Iraq. But the devices—dowsing rods in a plastic handle, often sold as golf ball 'finders'—were so popular that even after he was collared, cops remained convinced (by inclination or graft) that they worked. After a series of horrific bombings, the government's stepped in to get rid of the useless gadgets.
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It took a massive suicide bombing that killed almost 300 people in Baghdad on July 3 — the deadliest single attack in the capital in 13 years of war — for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to finally ban their use.
The reason it took so long is likely the widespread corruption in the government. Iraqis mocked the device from the start, joking that too much aftershave could set off the antenna.
Now there are accusations that plans to start using newly imported explosives-detecting scanners were intentionally held up as part of the political wrangling over which faction — the military or the police — will control security in Baghdad.
Described as a "mix between Game of Thrones and House of Cards," a novella written by late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has finally been translated to English. Written in the last days of his rule, the plot reportedly "revolves around a Zionist-Christian conspiracy against Arabs," a presumably unsurprising topic to fans. Read the rest
UK politics are in disarray: the leaders of the Conservative and UK Independence Parties have both quit; the Tory leadership race is a neverending night of the long knives and the Blairite wing of the Labour Party can't figure out which dice-lawyers to trust on their roll for initiative. Read the rest
Fantasy author Charlie "Oversight
" Fletcher says, "I wrote this as a Christmas story for my friends and family in 2010, seven years after the Iraq War began, eighteen months after the Chilcot Inquiry into it was announced. Six years further on Chilcot has finally reported
. Because of that, and prompted by last week’s incredibly moving WW1/Battle of the Somme living memorial in the UK , it seems like a good time to share it again."
The Chilcot Report on the UK invasion of Iraq has finally been released, seven years after it was announced, and many years after its completion (it was delayed for years over the release of government documents and memos that were contained in its pages). Read the rest
Reporters from Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post obtained a huge trove of email from Unaoil, a business run by a rich Monaco family, that reveal that the family ran a corrupt bribery empire that spanned the world's oil-producing states, and that they world with companies like Rolls-Royce, Halliburton, Leighton Holding, Samsung and Hyundai, to rig contracts through a system of bribes and kickbacks that looted the national treasuries of some of the world's poorest countries. Read the rest
Just days after bloody attacks blamed on ISIS claimed scores of lives in Brussels, today dozens more people were killed by an ISIS-claimed terrorist at a soccer stadium near Baghdad. Read the rest
For 13 years, Iraq's post-Saddam elites have run amok, looting the country's riches while creating a pervasive culture of corruption that spreads all the way down -- only the continuous injection of new money from the country's oil-fields kept the whole thing from collapsing. Read the rest
The Force of the Sun Ladies is an all-woman brigade of fighters who were formerly enslaved by ISIS during the occupation of Mosul. Read the rest
The fun-loving Chinese journalists in this segment manage to out-VICE VICE. 侣行 On the Road is billed as “a homemade outdoor reality show” featuring an "extreme couple" who love adventure. The pair and their team got some great footage of an open-air weapons market in Sadr City. Read the rest