Category Archives: Islamic State

(Independent) Camp Speicher massacre: Retracing the steps of Isis’s worst-ever atrocity

(IndependentIraq Reborn: As Isis is driven out of the last few towns under its control, Patrick Cockburn visits the scene where more than 1,700 young air cadets were slaughtered by the group. More than three years later, there are still grisly tell-tale signs of what happened here

It is one of the most shocking of many sadistic videos shot and publicised by Isis in which its gunmen are seen executing their victims. It shows scenes from the Camp Speicher massacre on 12 June 2014 when Isis murdered 1,700 army recruits in a former palace compound of Saddam Hussein on the banks of the Tigris river near Tikrit.

Columns of terrified young men are filmed being driven at gunpoint by masked Isis gunmen dressed in black towards mass graves which the victims can see are already filled with bodies. Others are beaten as they stumble down stone steps onto a small dock under a bridge on the Tigris. As each one is dragged forward by a guard, he is shot in the head by a man with a pistol so he falls into the water. The ground where the killings are taking place is covered in blood.

It is worth forcing oneself to look at this disgusting video again as Isis is driven by Iraqi security forces out of its last strongholds in the deserts of western Iraq. The movement, now defeated and almost eliminated, revelled in its cruelty and boasted of its mass killings in order to terrorise its opponents. The Camp Speicher massacre was its worst single atrocity in Iraq or Syria.

iraq-soldier-praying.jpg
A soldier prays at a mass grave for Shia soldiers from Camp Speicher who were killed by Isis militants in the presidential compound of the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in Tikrit after government forces liberated the area in April 2015 (Reuters)

The slaughter of the young recruits happened a few days after Isis had unexpectedly captured Mosul; its militarily units were racing south towards Baghdad against little opposition as the Iraqi army disintegrated. Its gunmen were greeted by many Sunni as liberators in places like Tikrit, the city near which Saddam Hussein was born and grew up. It was here that as many as 10,000 army recruits were being trained at an air force academy. They were told to go home by their commanders who themselves fled in circumstances that still cause controversy and anger. The young men, who were from all over Iraq, changed into civilian clothes and those carrying weapons were told to leave them behind at the camp.

iraq-shia-tikrit.jpg
Iraqi forces fought back to take Tikrit and the surrounding desert in 2015. Here, Shiafighters are seen launching a rocket during clashes with Isis militants on the outskirts of the city (Reuters)

Isis gunmen captured many of the recruits as they walked along the roads heading home and divided them into Shia and Sunni before loading the Shia into trucks. It is not known when they realised they were going to die because many were told at first that they would be let go where they could get transport to Baghdad. Instead, they were taken to an area where Saddam Hussein had built several palaces where he and his family could enjoy a fine view across the Tigris. Some of the palaces were in ruins, shattered by US bombing, and the rest were abandoned.

The site of the killings may have been chosen because of its associations with Saddam Hussein. Hayder al-Baldawi, a member of a committee commemorating the massacre, says: “It was an act of revenge for the execution of Saddam and the fall of his regime. Many of the killers were identified later as coming from Tikrit, Baath party members and people from Saddam’s Albu Nasr tribe and other pro-Saddam tribes, who joined up with Isis.”

funeral-tikrit.jpg
Mourners carry flag-draped coffins at a symbolic funeral for Iraqi soldiers killed by Isis when they overran Camp Speicher military base in June 2015 (AP)

There are many massacre sites: on the flat ground by the river large pits have been excavated where the recruits were killed and their bodies covered with earth and stones. At one place, they were shot on top of a low cliff so the bodies fell in a heap on ground below. Another site is some way away, high up on a bluff overlooking the river, near Saddam Hussein’s giant ruined Salahudin palace, where today there is a stretch of rough ground and a deep hole with a tree in the middle distance on the edge of a cliff. We compared this to a still from the Isis propaganda video that shows the same tree, but the foreground is carpeted in dead bodies so numerous that one cannot see the ground. Many of the dead have their hands tied behind their backs and there is a black Isis flag in one corner of the picture.

A watchman pointed to a rock where he had just found a bit of blood-matted hair stuck to the side of a rock which he believed must date from the massacre.

It is not clear how many died: Isis claimed that it had killed 1,700, though the number of bodies so far identified is lower. Mr Baldawi says that “the Ministry of Health does not have enough money to pay for DNA kits, so bodies can be identified for certain”. He puts the number of dead at 1,935, of which 994 bodies have been found and, of these, 527 have been identified and 467 are under medical examination. In addition, some 941 are still missing, though these figures are difficult to verify because the search for the bodies only began in March 2015, eight months after the killings, when government forces recaptured Tikrit.

pg-19-tikrit-1-reuters.jpg
Iraqi soldiers salute next to a mass grave containing the bodies of hundreds of Shiasoldiers from Camp Speicher who were killed by Isis militants in Tikrit (Reuters)

The search for the perpetrators of the massacre has gone on ever since with 36 alleged killers executed in August 2016 amid allegations that they had not received a fair trial. Defence lawyers were not able to speak to the accused and walked out. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued a negative report on the conduct of the trial, saying that there had been a “failure to investigate allegations of torture”. Nevertheless, there have been no counter-massacres and the government and NGOs have made concerted efforts to get the Tikrit Sunni tribes to reconcile with the families of the victims.

Tribal leaders said that individuals from tribes had taken part in the massacre, but denied it was a communal Sunni attack on the Shia. They said that Sunni officials from Tikrit had also been targeted and killed by Isis. Some Sunni had helped Shia escape. Reconciliation is helped because Tikrit is wholly Sunni and members of the two sects are not intermingled as they are in other parts of Iraq, where neighbourhood revenge killings have been frequent. Tikrit, with a population of 160,000, looks relaxed and suffered only limited damage during its recapture compared to other Sunni cities like Ramadi and Mosul.

Identifying who on the government side was responsible for allowing so many unarmed Shia recruits to be captured remains a divisive political issue. Victims’ families want to know who were the senior officers who ran away, leaving their sons to be murdered by Isis. This is not just an issue between Shia and Sunni, but between Shia and Kurd, relations between the latter being particularly fraught in the wake of the government reoccupation in September of Kirkuk and the disputed territories.

Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister at the time of the killings, said in an interview with The Independent that he has a simple explanation for what happened: “In fact, the Speicher massacre occurred because the commander there was a Kurd and he received orders from [then-Kurdish President] Masoud Barzani to withdraw with his [Kurdish] men and they left everything in chaos and disorder and the massacre happened.”

This account has the advantage of excusing Mr Maliki and his government for any responsibility for the collapse of the Iraqi armed forces in the area which enabled Isis to slaughter so many young men.

(DML) EXCLUSIVE: US left wing groups travelled to Germany for the G20 Summit last July to meet with Al qaeda and ISIS leaders and plot the destruction of President Trump, secret FBI investigation reveals

(DML)

‘We’ve NEVER seen a rate rise’: First-time buyers reveal fears as high street banks start hiking mortgage costs within MINUTES of the Bank of England raising interest rates for first time in a decade
Serial conman with 17 aliases and 28 convictions pretended his fake wife and son had DIED in Grenfell Tower before shaking Prince Charles’s hand at fire disaster centre in ‘despicable’ £12k scam
  • Bestselling author Edward Klein is set to release his latest book All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump
  • Klein makes the shocking revelation that an FBI investigation discovered collusion between American anarchists and ISIS and Al-Qaeda 
  • ‘This is the greatest challenge to law enforcement since the Weather Underground and the Black Panther Party,’ the FBI report declared
  • It reveals the FBI sent a task force to Germany to report on radical groups that planned to protest President Trump’s attendance at this year’s G20 Summit
  • The investigation determined that U.S.-backed anarchist/radical groups had traveled to Germany and took part in the violence 
  • There was also evidence that three key leaders of an Oakland group met in Hamburg with a leader of the Al-Qaeda 
  • The foreign terrorists were helping them acquire the weapons they are seeking, primarily bomb-making equipment and toxic chemicals and gasses

Edward Klein is the former editor in chief of the New York Times Magazine and the author of numerous bestsellers including his fourth book on the Clintons, Guilty as Sin, in 2016. His latest book is All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump will be released October 30, 2017

A secret FBI investigation of the violent ‘resistance’ movement on college campuses against President Trump has led to an alarming discovery—the collusion between American anarchists and foreign terrorists in the Islamic State and Al qaeda, according to a confidential ‘Informational Report’ by FBI field offices.

‘There is clearly overwhelming evidence that there are growing ties between U.S. radicals and the Islamic State, as well as several [ISIS] offshoots and splinter groups,’ stated the FBI field report, which was delivered to Acting Director Andrew McCabe on July 11, 2017, and which is being published for the first time in my new book All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump.

The FBI report on efforts by Islamic terrorists to recruit followers among violent U.S. groups like Antifa corroborates President Trump’s controversial claim, following last summer’s deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left-wing anarchist groups are just as dangerous as right-wing white supremacists.

A secret FBI investigation of the violent ‘resistance’ movement on college campuses against President Trump has led to an alarming discovery—the collusion between American anarchists and foreign terrorists in the Islamic State and Al Qaeda (Pictured above are the protests in Charlottesville, VA) 

‘This is the greatest challenge to law enforcement since the Weather Underground and the Black Panther Party,’ the FBI report declared.

Last summer, the FBI dispatched a task force to Europe to report on massive demonstrations planned by radical groups, such as the German contingent Antifaschistische Aktion, to protest President Trump’s attendance at a meeting of leaders and central bank governors of the G20 group of major industrialized countries

‘Task force covered G20 meeting in Hamburg, studied intel from local authorities, Interpol, and other assets, determined that as assumed U.S.-backed anarchist/radical groups had traveled to Germany and took place in the violence,’ the FBI’s summary stated.

‘There is also evidence of meetings between these individuals and associates of ISIS. There is an urgent need to closely surveil the identified individuals.’

The agents sent by the FBI paid particular attention to a group of anarchists from Oakland, a major port city that lies adjacent to the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, the scene of several violent protests.

It reveals the FBI sent a task force to Germany to report on radical groups that planned to protest President Trump’s attendance at this year’s G20 Summit (pictured) and found U.S.-backed anarchist/radical groups had traveled to Germany and met with terrorists

‘While there has been military progress in Iraq against the Islamic State, their influence in Europe and throughout the world is clearly growing,’ the report said.

‘Now that the bureau has determined they have followers in the radical U.S. resistance movement in the United States, it is clear there will be additional violence in the attacks on law enforcement and U.S. institutions, including banks.

‘Ties between three key leaders of the Oakland group [names redacted] met in Hamburg with a leader of the AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] and the AQIM [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb],’ the report continued. ‘The leader from AQAP is an Egyptian-born male [name redacted] who is known to be in charge of finances and recruiting for the group.

The FBI field report was delivered to Acting Director Andrew McCabe in July

‘There is evidence from informants that he is helping the Oakland group acquire the weapons they are seeking, primarily bomb making equipment and toxic chemicals and gasses.

ADVERTISEMENT

‘One of the men from Oakland traveled to Syria to meet with ISIS; the purpose was for training in tactics, but was thought to be primarily a bonding visit to discuss possible massive disruptive attacks in the U.S.

‘While in Hamburg, several of the Oakland-based criminals were photographed throwing Molotov cocktails and wielding iron bars, which have been their weapons of choice, though they are almost certainly on the verge of upping the caliber of their weaponry for use in the U.S.

‘Despite having their faces covered by masks, they were positively identified.

‘This group and their connections with the radical Islamic groups must be disrupted and destroyed.

The FBI dispatched a task force to Europe to report on massive demonstrations planned by radical groups, such as the German contingent Antifaschistische Aktion
Mounted policemen ride through a group of protesters sitting on the ground, in Hamburg, Germany, during the G20 Summit in July 

‘Action has been taken with the appropriate agencies to see that these named individuals will be identified when they return to the United States. It has not been determined if they will be detained or surveilled.…

‘Making some sort of common cause with Americans who are determined to commit violence against the U.S. makes them potentially very useful to radical Islam.’

Ed Klein’s latest book is All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump will be released October 30, 2017

Before he was fired as director of the FBI, James Comey collected intelligence on the connections between Middle Eastern jihadis, European radicals, and the American anarchists who are part of the anti-Trump ‘resistance’ movement.

‘The Americans communicate with the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations on websites, and they use those websites to download instructions on making weapons,’ said an FBI source who had access to Comey’s intelligence reports.

‘As the Trump administration has demonstrated it’s serious about destroying the Islamic State, and depriving ISIS of territory in Iraq and Syria, the alliance between the American radicals and ISIS has grown even closer. The Internet chatter between the Americans and the Islamists is astronomical.

‘The FBI is really playing catchup ball, because the Obama administration refused to give the bureau the resources it needed to effectively infiltrate and surveil the radical groups on college campuses,’ the source continued.

‘Any talk of a connection between radical Islam—a phrase the Obama people wouldn’t even use—and American extremists was pretty much laughed off. [Former Attorney General] Loretta Lynch would have blown a gasket if she heard that the FBI was surveilling so-called college political organizations.

‘All that has changed under the Trump administration. Everyone’s aware that the resistance movement, with its effort to get rid of Trump by any means necessary, has created fertile soil for ISIS and al Qaeda to establish a beachhead in America.’

(JakartaPost) Once promised paradise, IS fighters end up in mass graves

(JakartaPost)  

An Iraqi woman visits the grave of a relative, who was killed during battles with Islamic State (IS) group fighters, at a graveyard in the Iraqi town of Dhuluiyah, 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of Baghdad, on Oct. 10, 2017. The Islamic State group once drew recruits from near and far with promises of paradise but now bodies of jihadists lie in mass graves or at the mercy of wild dogs as its (Agence France-Presse/Sabah Arar)

The Islamic State group once drew recruits from near and far with promises of paradise but now bodies of jihadists lie in mass graves or at the mercy of wild dogs as its “caliphate” collapses.

Flies buzz around human remains poking through the dusty earth in the Iraqi town of Dhuluiyah, 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of Baghdad, at a hastily-dug pit containing the bodies of dozens of IS fighters killed in 2015.

“They should have ended up in the stomachs of stray dogs,” local police officer Mohammed al-Juburi told AFP.

“We buried them here not out of love but because we wanted to avoid diseases.”

At one stage, IS ruthlessly wielded power over a vast swathe of territory straddling Iraq and Syria, but a military onslaught on multiple fronts has seen its fiefdom shrink to a last few pockets.

Since the launch in 2014 of air strikes in Iraq and Syria against the group, a US-led coalition says around 80,000 jihadists have been killed.

The overall number of dead is higher if you include those targeted by Russian and Syrian strikes.

Buried with bulldozers

In agricultural Dhuluiyah on the banks of the Tigris river, residents faced a common dilemma over what to do with the corpses of IS fighters after local Sunni militiamen beat back the jihadists in fierce clashes.

“We could have thrown them into the water, but we love the river too much to pollute it,” said the local policeman, who lost his own brother in the violence.

“The people here as well as their animals drink from the Tigris.”

Local finally decided to dig a mass grave for the fighters — but they said they refused to honor them with Islamic rites.

Iraqis visit the grave of a relative, who was killed during battles with Islamic State (IS) group fighters, at a graveyard in the Iraqi town of Dhuluiyah, 90 kilometres (55 miles) north of Baghdad, on Oct. 10, 2017. The Islamic State group once drew recruits from near and far with promises of paradise but now bodies of jihadists lie in mass graves or at the mercy of wild dogs as its (Agence France-Presse/Sabah Arar)

“We buried them with bulldozers. Even in the ground they are still mired in their own filth,” said farmer Shalan al-Juburi.

“They said that they would go to paradise to enjoy the gardens of delights, but this is how they ended up.”

The desolate site is in stark contrast to a nearby graveyard surrounded by a red-brick wall a few hundred metres (yards) away.

There the “martyrs” who died helping to stop the jihadist advance lie in well-tended tombs adorned with their portraits and shaded by trees.

Elsewhere, in western Iraq’s Anbar province, the luckiest among the IS dead appear to be those killed during its offensives against the army in 2015.

In the centre of Fallujah, the first major city captured by the group in 2014, hundreds of memorials in a makeshift cemetery bear the noms de guerre of foreign fighters buried by their comrades.

But as Iraqi forces in Anbar now look to oust the jihadists from their final footholds, operation commander Mahmoud al-Fellahi insisted any jihadists killed will end up in mass graves.

A similar fate befell IS members in the city of Mosul, the group’s largest urban stronghold in Iraq that it lost in July.

There, a senior Iraqi commander told AFP, authorities used earthmoving equipment “to bury the jihadists after we collected information on their identities and nationalities”.

‘Desert dogs are waiting’

Across the border in Syria — where competing Russia and US-backed offensives are squeezing IS — the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates some 50,000 IS members have been killed.

As clashes rage with the jihadists, one Syrian commander said that what happens to dead fighters is not a priority.

“At the moment, we are more interested in what happens above the ground than under it,” he told AFP.

Another military source said the identities of the fighters can provide useful intelligence.

“The terrorists try to collect their dead. If we find them, we try to identify the foreigners for a possible information swap with their home countries,” the source said.

In the desert plains that the jihadists once dominated, the bodies of dead fighters are left abandoned, a pro-regime militia head told AFP.

“The desert dogs are waiting for them,” he said. “When fighting ends, the jihadists come out of their hiding places to collect the remains.”

A spokesman for the US-backed force close to ousting IS from the city of Raqa said the bodies of the group’s members were “generally buried” whenever possible.

“But sometimes due to snipers or because they are under rubble, some of the bodies end up rotting,” said Syrian Defence Forces representative Mustefa Bali.

While the rank-and-file are often left forgotten, IS appears to have taken care to hide the final resting places of prominent Western jihadists.

“Figures who were well-known and wanted by the international community are buried at secret locations,” said Syrian Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Those include notorious British executioner Mohamed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John”, propaganda chief Abu Muhammad al-Adnani and military leader Omar al-Shishani.

There has been no record of bodies of foreign jihadists being repatriated, said Abdel Rahman.

 

Ammar Karim and Maher al-Mounes | Agence France-Presse | Dhuluiyah, Iraq

(BBG) Sword-Wielding Terrorist Attacks Officers Near Buckingham Palace

(BBG) A 26-year-old man used a four-foot sword to slash London police officers near Buckingham Palace in an attack Scotland Yard said is being investigated as a terrorist act.

Three officers were hurt in the Friday incident, the Metropolitan Police said in a statement Saturday. The attacker, who drove his car into a restricted area and shouted “Allahu Akbar,” was arrested at the scene for assault and later was charged under the U.K. anti-terrorism law, police said.

Police secure the area following an attack at Buckingham Palace on Aug. 25.

Photographer: GOR/Getty Images

“We believe the man was acting alone and we are not looking for other suspects at this stage,” Dean Haydon, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, said in the statement. “While we cannot speculate on what the man was intending to do — this will be determined during the course of the investigation — it is only right that we investigate this as a terrorist incident at this time.”

The Toyota car had stopped in front of a police van near the palace about 8:30 p.m. Friday, police said. When the unarmed officers approached the vehicle, the man grabbed the sword from the passenger’s side of the front seat. He caused minor injuries to the officers before being subdued by type of tear gas known as CS spray, the police said in the statement.

Major European cities have been targets this year for terrorists, some using knives. A Somali man in Brussels on Friday night was shot dead after police said he attacked two soldiers with a knife. In Barcelona, two attacks using vehicles a week ago killed 15 civilians and injured scores of others. Terrorists using trucks plowed into passersby on bridges in two deadly incidents this year, including one in which citizens were knifed. There was also an attack using a commercial vehicle in Stockholm.

U.K. Prime Minster Theresa May, in two tweets Saturday, thanked the officers for acting “quickly and bravely” to protect the public.

(EFE) Expertos advierten del peligro de cientos de “mezquitas encubiertas” en España

(EFE)

En España existen 1.508 centros de culto religiosos para casi dos millones de musulmanes, según los últimos datos del Observatorio del Pluralismo Religioso, pero, expertos consultados por Efe, advierten de que además hay centenares de “mezquitas encubiertas” que pueden ser foco de radicalismo.

En concreto critican la falta de lugares de culto adecuados para la comunidad musulmana, lo que provoca la proliferación de puntos de reunión no oficiales que pueden ser aprovechados por “falsos imanes” para difundir mensajes radicales del Islam, algunos de ellos en el punto de mira de las fuerzas y cuerpos de Seguridad.

(JN) Menos lágrimas e mais fazer coisas – Nuno Melo

(JN) Quando na Europa os atentados terroristas se sucedem, praticados muitas vezes por quem acolhemos, cá vive e trabalha, quem se atreva a sugerir melhores regras que filtrem os fluxos migratórios terá garantido em alguma Esquerda o insulto gratuito, tratado como xenófobo, racista e nacionalista.

Entre outros argumentos, virá o disparate fácil e simplista de que a Europa está velha, fazem-se por cá poucos filhos, estamos condenados a prazo a uma espécie de demografia grisalha e, por isso, todos são indistintamente bem-vindos. Depois, fixados na fantasia idílica que lhes marca o discurso, recusarão aceitar que entre esta conversa do “venham todos” e o contraponto absurdo das portas fechadas, que também haveria quem gostasse de ter, há um meio-termo de bom senso e lucidez básica, que seria suposto assegurar a regra de maior consenso. O ponto é: realmente, a Europa não precisa de qualquer pessoa. Só faz cá falta quem esteja disposto a integrar-se, a cumprir as nossas leis, a respeitar os nossos modos de vida, a não atentar contra a nossa existência, a garantir que não nos sentiremos sequestrados e com medo dentro da nossa própria casa. Para estes, tudo. Aos outros, simplesmente nada.

Os apologistas do fim da Europa fortaleza, convenhamos, não são só líricos. São também perigosos. E infelizmente são muitos.

Esta semana em Espanha, numa homilia justificada pelos atentados em Barcelona e Cambrils e pela chacina de 15 pessoas inocentes, um padre católico de Madrid, Santiago Martín, decidiu ultrapassar as considerações previsíveis de natureza religiosa. Expressando a revolta de muitos, apontou o dedo à presidente da Câmara da cidade catalã, Ada Colau, eleita na plataforma radical que integra o Podemos. Saudou as manifestações públicas de repulsa e também as orações. Mas reforçou que rezar não basta e há que fazer algo mais. A propósito, recordou que na sequência do atentado que um ano antes, com recurso a um camião, também provocara dezenas de mortos na cidade francesa de Nice, o Governo espanhol recomendara que se colocassem obstáculos nos pontos de acesso aos locais das cidades que registassem grandes concentrações de pessoas. Sob pretexto de que coartava a liberdade, este mecanismo de segurança foi recusado para as Ramblas, por Ada Colau. Por isso, o padre Santiago Martín, concluiu assim:

“Coarta a liberdade, é verdade; a liberdade dos assassinos. Portanto, uma parte da culpa (…) é da presidente da Câmara de Barcelona. Menos lágrimas e mais fazer coisas”.

* DEPUTADO EUROPEU

(Reuters) Spanish police track down, shoot dead Barcelona attacker

(Reuters) Spanish police on Monday shot dead an Islamist militant who killed 13 people with a van in Barcelona last week, ending a five-day manhunt for the perpetrator of Spain’s deadliest attack in over a decade.

Police said they tracked 22-year-old Younes Abouyaaqoub to a rural area near Barcelona and shot him after he held up what looked like an explosives belt and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest). A bomb squad then used a robot to approach his body.

Abouyaaqoub had been on the run since Thursday evening, after he drove at high speed into throngs of strollers along Barcelona’s most famous avenue, Las Ramblas. After fleeing the scene, he hijacked a car and fatally stabbed its driver.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which police believe was planned by a dozen accomplices, including a brother and two first cousins of the Moroccan-born Abouyaaqoub.

“Shortly before 5 p.m., the police shot down Younes Abouyaaqoub, the driver of the van in the attack that killed 14 people in Barcelona,” Carles Puigdemont, head of the Catalonia regional government, told a news conference.

Abouyaaqoub, wearing what turned out to be a fake bomb belt, was spotted by a woman in the early afternoon in the small town of Subirats and then fled through vineyards. But police tracked him down and shot him on a road near a sewage treatment plant.

The scene unfolded 40 km (25 miles) from the spot, close to the FC Barcelona soccer stadium on the outskirts of the city, where police said Abouyaaqoub seized the hijacked car.

Police said Abouyaaqoub had first fled Las Ramblas on foot amid the chaos of the attack, then commandeered the car, stabbing the driver, 34-year-old Pau Perez, to death before smashing his way through a police checkpoint and ditching the car.

Abouyaaqoub had been the only one of 12 accomplices still at large. His mother, Hannou Ghanimi, had appealed for him to surrender, saying she would rather see him in jail than dead.

Four people have been arrested so far in connection with the attacks: three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla. They were being taken to the high court in Madrid, which has jurisdiction over terrorism matters.

Abouyaaqoub lived in Ripoll, a town in the Pyrenees mountains north of Barcelona close to the French border.

ISLAMIC STATE CLAIMS

Islamic State also claimed responsibility for a separate deadly assault, hours after the van attack, in the coastal resort town of Cambrils, south of Barcelona.

In Cambrils, a car rammed into passersby and its occupants got out and tried to stab people. The five assailants were shot dead by police, while a Spanish woman died in the attack.

In the roughly seven hours of violence that followed the van’s entry into the central promenade of Las Ramblas on Thursday afternoon, attackers killed 15 people: 13 on Las Ramblas, the Cambrils victim and the man in the hijacked car.

Of the 120 injured on Las Ramblas, nine remain in a critical condition in hospital.

Slideshow (14 Images)

It was the deadliest attack in Spain since March 2004, when militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people. The attack was claimed by al Qaeda.

Another two suspected plotters in Barcelona, including an imam thought by police to have helped radicalize his young conspirators, were killed on Wednesday night, hours before the Las Ramblas assault began, in what is believed to have been an accidental explosion.

About 120 butane gas cylinders were found at the scene of the explosion, a house in the town of Alcanar, south of Barcelona. Police believe the pair were preparing a much larger attack with explosives, but the blast prompted their accomplices to adopt a new, less elaborate plan.

Spanish police said the international investigation was still open and have sought information on a visit the imam, Abdelbaki Es Satty, made to Belgium last year, said Thierry Werts, spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office.

Hans Bonte, mayor of the Belgian town of Vilvoorde, near Brussels, told VRT television at the weekend the imam had been there looking for work. Belgium has suffered several Islamist attacks and Vilvoorde has been a center of Islamic radicalism.

The van driver, Abouyaaqoub, began showing more religiously conservative behavior over the past year, said relatives in his native Morocco. He refused to shake hands with women during a visit to his birthplace in March, they said.

Abouyaaqoub’s brother El Houssaine and first cousins Mohamed and Omar Hychami were among those killed by police in Cambrils. They were all originally from the small Moroccan town of Mrirt.

(Japan Times) Five Barcelona attack suspects killed

(Japan TimesPolice on Friday shot and killed five people wearing fake bomb belts who staged a car attack in a seaside resort in Spain’s Catalonia region hours after a van plowed into pedestrians on a busy Barcelona promenade, killing at least 13 people and injuring over 100 others.

Authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks — as well as an explosion earlier this week elsewhere in Catalonia — were connected and the work of a large terrorist group. Three people were arrested, but the driver of the van used in the Barcelona attack remained at large and the manhunt intensified for the perpetrators of the latest European rampage claimed by the Islamic State group.

Authorities were still reeling from Thursday’s Barcelona attack when police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the south, fatally shot five people near the town’s boardwalk who had plowed into a group of tourists and locals with their blue Audi 3. Six people, including a police officer, were injured, though it wasn’t clear how badly.

Catalonia’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, told Onda Cero radio that the five suspects killed in a subsequent shootout with police were wearing fake bomb belts.

“They were fakes, but very well made, and it wasn’t until the bomb squad carried out the controlled explosion of one that they could determine they were fakes,” he said.

The Audi and a damaged police car were towed from the scene Friday.

The Cambrils attack came hours after a white van veered onto Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas promenade and mowed down pedestrians, zig-zagging down the strip packed with locals and tourists from around the world.

Forn, told local radio RAC1 the Cambrils attack “follows the same trail. There is a connection.”

He told Onda Cero that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks were being investigated together, as well as a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

“We are not talking about a group of one or two people, but rather a numerous group,” he said. He added that the Alcanar explosion had been caused by butane tanks stored in a house, and that firefighters and police responding to the blast had been injured.

The Barcelona attack at the peak of Spain’s tourist season left victims sprawled across the street, spattered with blood and writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.

“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, saying in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

Cambrils Mayor Cami Mendoza said the town had taken precautions after the Barcelona attack, but that the suspects had centered their assault early Friday on the narrow path to Cambrils’s boardwalk, which is usually packed with locals and tourists late into the evening.

“We were on a terrace, like many others,” said bystander Jose Antonio Saez. “We heard the crash and intense gun shots, then the dead bodies on the floor, shot by the police. They had what looked like explosive belts on.”

Others described scenes of panic, and found safety inside bars and restaurants until police had secured the area.

Local resident Markel Artabe said he was heading to the seafront to get an ice cream when he heard the shots.

“We began to run. We saw one person lying on the pavement with a shot in his head then 20-30 meters further on we saw two more people, who must have been terrorists as they had explosive belts around them. We were worried so we hid.”

A third Barcelona suspect was arrested Friday in the northern town of Ripoll, where one of the two detained on Thursday had also been nabbed. The third arrest was made in Alcanar, where the gas explosion in a house was being investigated.

“There could be more people in Ripoll connected to the group,” Forn told TV3 television, adding that police were focusing their investigation on identifying the five dead in Cambrils as well as the driver of the Barcelona van.

Police said the two suspects arrested Thursday were a Spanish national from Melilla, a Spanish-run Mediterranean seafront enclave in North Africa, and the other a Moroccan.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported said Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Various Spanish media said the IDs with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.

Media outlets ran photographs of Oukabir they said police had issued to identify one of the suspects. The regional police told The Associated Press that they had not distributed the photograph. They refused to say if he was one of the two detained.

The driver, however, remained at large.

“We don’t know if the driver is still in Barcelona or not, or what direction he fled in,” Forn, the Catalan interior minister, told SER Radio. “We had local police on the scene, but we were unable to shoot him, as the Ramblas were packed with people.”

The Catalan regional government said people from 24 countries were among those killed and injured in Barcelona.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down.

By Friday morning, the promenade had reopened to the public, and neighbors and tourist were allowed past police lines to go back to their homes and hotels. The city center remained under heavy surveillance.

At noon Friday, a minute of silence honoring the victims was to be observed at the Plaza Catalunya, near the top of the Ramblas where the van attack started. Rajoy declared three days of national mourning.

Similar vehicle attacks have been carried out at tourist sites in France, Germany, Sweden and Britain.

“London, Brussels, Paris and some other European cities have had the same experience. It’s been Barcelona’s turn today,” said Carles Puigdemont, president of Catalonia’s government.

The bloodshed was Spain’s deadliest attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. In the years since, Spanish authorities have arrested nearly 200 jihadists. The only deadly attacks were bombings claimed by the Basque separatist group ETA that killed five people over the past decade but it declared a cease-fire in 2011.

“Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years, but we also that terrorists can be beaten,” Rajoy said.

(AP) Spain manhunt deepens as Barcelona insists ‘I am not afraid’

(AP)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Police shot and killed five people wearing fake bomb belts who staged a deadly car attack in a seaside resort in Spain’s Catalonia region Friday, just hours after a van plowed into pedestrians on a busy Barcelona promenade.

Spanish authorities said the back-to-back vehicle attacks — as well as an explosion earlier this week in a house elsewhere in Catalonia — were related and the work of a large terrorist group. Three people were arrested, but a manhunt was underway for the driver of the van used in Thursday’s Barcelona attack, which killed 13 people and injured 100 others. The Islamic State group quickly claimed responsibility.

Amid heavy security, Barcelona tried to move forward Friday, with its iconic Las Ramblas promenade quietly reopening to the public and King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy joining thousands of residents and visitors in observing a minute of silence in the city’s main square.

“I am not afraid! I am not afraid!” the crowd chanted in Catalan amid applause.

But the dual attacks unnerved a country that hasn’t seen an Islamic extremist attack since 2004, when al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 192 people in coordinated assaults on Madrid’s commuter trains. Unlike France, Britain, Sweden and Germany, Spain has largely been spared, thanks in part to a crackdown that has netted some 200 suspected jihadis in recent years.

Footage has emerged of panic on Barcelona’s streets after Thursday’s van attack in the city’s historic Las Ramblas district. Authorities say one person is dead, and dozens have been injured. (Aug. 17)

Authorities were still reeling from the Barcelona attack when police in the popular seaside town of Cambrils, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the south, fatally shot five people near the town’s boardwalk who had plowed into a group of tourists and locals with their blue Audi 3. Catalonia’s interior minister, Joaquim Forn, told Onda Cero radio they were wearing fake bomb belts.

One woman died Friday from her injuries, Catalan police said on Twitter. Five others were injured.

Cambrils Mayor Cami Mendoza said the town had taken precautions after the Barcelona attack, but that the suspects had centered their assault on the narrow path to the boardwalk, which is usually packed with locals and tourists late into the evening.

“We were on a terrace, like many others,” said bystander Jose Antonio Saez. “We heard the crash and intense gun shots, then the dead bodies on the floor, shot by the police. They had what looked like explosive belts on.”

Others described scenes of panic, and found safety inside bars and restaurants until police had secured the area.

Local resident Markel Artabe said he was heading to the seafront to get an ice cream when he heard the shots.

“We began to run. We saw one person lying on the pavement with a shot in his head, then 20 to 30 meters farther on we saw two more people, who must have been terrorists as they had explosive belts around them. We were worried so we hid.”

The Cambrils attack came soon after a white van veered onto Barcelona’s picturesque Las Ramblas promenade and mowed down pedestrians, zig-zagging down the strip packed with locals and tourists from around the world. Catalonian authorities tweeted that the dead and injured in the two attacks were people of 34 different nationalities.

Forn told local radio RAC1 the Cambrils attack “follows the same trail. There is a connection.”

He told Onda Cero that the Cambrils and Barcelona attacks were being investigated together, as well as a Wednesday night explosion in the town of Alcanar in which one person was killed.

“We are not talking about a group of one or two people, but rather a numerous group,” he said.

Forn also suggested a possible connection to an incident Thursday in which the driver of a Ford Focus plowed through a police checkpoint leaving Barelona after the attack, injuring two police officers. The driver was killed. Police initially said there was no connection to the Barcelona carnage, but Forn said an investigation was under way.

“There is a possibility (of a connection), but it is not confirmed,” he said.

The Barcelona attack at the peak of Spain’s tourist season left victims sprawled across the street, spattered with blood and writhing in pain from broken limbs. Others were ushered inside shops by officers with their guns drawn or fled in panic, screaming and carrying young children in their arms.

“It was clearly a terror attack, intended to kill as many people as possible,” Josep Lluis Trapero, a senior police official for Spain’s Catalonia region told reporters late Thursday.

The Islamic State group said in a statement on its Aamaq news agency that the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the Islamic State” in response to the extremist group’s calls for followers to target countries participating in the coalition trying to drive it from Syria and Iraq.

A third Barcelona suspect was arrested Friday in the northern town of Ripoll, where one of the two detained on Thursday had also been nabbed and where the investigation appeared to be focusing Friday. The third arrest was made in Alcanar, where the gas explosion in a house was being investigated.

“There could be more people in Ripoll connected to the group,” Forn told TV3 television, adding that police were focusing their investigation on identifying the five dead in Cambrils as well as the driver of the Barcelona van.

Spanish public broadcaster RTVE and other news outlets named one of the detained in the Barcelona attack as Driss Oukabir, a French citizen of Moroccan origin. RTVE reported that Oukabir went to police in Ripoll to report that his identity documents had been stolen. Various Spanish media said the IDs with his name were found in the attack van and that he claimed his brother might have stolen them.

Citing police sources, Spain’s RTVE as well as El Pais and TV3 identified the brother, Moussa Oukabir, as the suspected driver of the van. Forn declined to comment on questions about him Friday, citing the ongoing investigation.

Media outlets ran photographs of Driss Oukabir they said police had issued to identify one of the suspects. The regional police told The Associated Press that they had not distributed the photograph. They refused to say if he was one of the two detained.

The driver, however, remained at large.

“We don’t know if the driver is still in Barcelona or not, or what direction he fled in,” Forn, the Catalan interior minister, told SER Radio. “We had local police on the scene, but we were unable to shoot him, as the Ramblas were packed with people.”

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called the killings a “savage terrorist attack” and said Spaniards “are not just united in mourning, but especially in the firm determination to beat those who want to rob us of our values and our way of life.”

After the afternoon attack, Las Ramblas went into lockdown. Swarms of officers brandishing hand guns and automatic weapons launched a manhunt in the downtown district, ordering stores and cafes and public transport to shut down.

By Friday morning, the promenade had reopened to the public, albeit under heavy surveillance and an unusual quiet.

Newsstands were open selling papers and souvenirs near Plaza de Catalunya, but the iconic flower shops that line the promenade remained shuttered. Vendors who typically sell counterfeit sneakers and soccer jerseys displayed on white sheets were nowhere to be found.

“We all feel fine, right?” said Tara Lanza, a New York tourist who arrived in Barcelona even after hearing of the attack.

“It’s sad,” John Lanza said, as the family stood outside the gated La Boqueria market. “You can tell it’s obviously quieter than it usually is, but I think people are trying to get on with their lives.”

At noon Friday, a minute of silence honoring the victims was observed at the Placa Catalunya, near the top of the Ramblas where the van attack started. Rajoy declared three days of national mourning.

Since the Madrid train bombings, the only deadly attacks had been bombings claimed by the Basque separatist group ETA that killed five people over the past decade. It declared a cease-fire in 2011.

“Unfortunately, Spaniards know the absurd and irrational pain that terrorism causes. We have received blows like this in recent years, but we also that terrorists can be beaten,” Rajoy said.

(BBG) Barcelona Terror Attack Kills 13 as Van Plows Into Tourist Spot

(BBG) A van plowed into pedestrians on Barcelona’s most iconic avenue at the height of the tourist season in a terrorist attack that left 13 people dead and echoed similar incidents in other European cities.

Catalonia’s regional government said 50 people were also injured. The suspected perpetrator was arrested and police denied earlier reports that a terrorist was holed up in a restaurant. Authorities are pursuing a second suspect and closed roads leading out of the city, state broadcaster TVE reported. La Vanguardia newspaper said a suspect was shot dead by police.

The van struck crowds in Las Ramblas, a busy avenue with bars and street artists on Barcelona’s tourist circuit. A witness told TVE the vehicle zigzagged into people at 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour to maximize the impact.

There has just been a massive trampling on the Ramblas in Barcelona by a person with a van. There are injured

Images of injured victims being tended to on the sidewalk are all too familiar in Europe. Terrorists in London drove into pedestrians on bridges in two deadly incidents this year. There was also an attack using a commercial vehicle in Stockholm. Last year, trucks plowed through crowds in Berlin and Nice.

In London, authorities responded by fortifying barriers designed to protect pedestrians. Concrete and metal blocks were erected to separate sidewalks from traffic. Soldiers were also briefly deployed on the streets.

Madrid Bombing

While police haven’t said what motivated Thursday’s attack, Spain has been a target of Islamist-inspired terrorism before. One of the worst incidents in Europe was in Madrid in 2004 when about 200 people were killed by bombs on early morning commuter trains.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will travel to Barcelona with his deputy and interior minister. Catalan National Assembly, a separatist group, meanwhile halted planned campaigning ahead of the region’s referendum on independence from Spain in October. Rajoy’s government has said the vote is illegal.

“Terrorists will never defeat a united people that loves liberty in the face of barbarity,” Rajoy said in a Twitter posting.

Television images showed scenes of chaos as people tended to the wounded with officers closing off the center of Barcelona and telling people to stay home. Train and metro stations were closed in the area and shops pulled down their shutters.

Spain is the world’s biggest tourist destination after France and the U.S. and the Catalan city of Barcelona is among its star attractions. It received more than 75 million foreign visitors last year and tourism is a key provider of jobs.

(WSJ) FBI Says ISIS Used eBay to Send Terror Cash to U.S.

(WSJ) Affidavit alleges American citizen Mohamed Elshinawy was part of a global network stretching from Britain to Bangladesh.

U.S. investigators uncovered a global financial network run by a senior Islamic State official that funneled money to an alleged ISIS operative in the U.S. through fake eBaytransactions, according to a recently unsealed FBI affidavit.

The alleged recipient of the funds was an American citizen in his early 30s who had been arrested more than a year ago in Maryland after a lengthy Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance operation that found the first clues to the suspected network.

The government had alleged in a 2016 indictment that the American suspect, Mohamed Elshinawy, pledged allegiance to Islamic State and had pretended to sell computer printers on eBay as a cover to receive payments through PayPal, potentially to fund terror attacks.

The recently unsealed FBI affidavit, filed in federal court in Baltimore, alleges that Mr. Elshinawy was part of a global network stretching from Britain to Bangladesh that used similar schemes to fund Islamic State and was directed by a now-dead senior ISIS figure in Syria, Siful Sujan.

The U.S. has said Mr. Elshinawy told investigators he was instructed to use the money for “operational purposes” in the U.S., such as a possible terror attack. He has pleaded not guilty to supporting the terror group, and currently is in federal custody awaiting trial. His lawyer declined to comment.

The case suggests how Islamic State is trying to exploit holes in the vast online financial world to finance terror outside its borders.

The U.S. and other countries for years since 9/11 have focused on the formal international banking systems that terror networks might use to transfer money to would-be terrorists.

But some alleged perpetrators inspired by Islamic State have gotten small sums through low-level fraud such as check scams, or through financial channels where regulators have been paying less attention.

Those include social-media fundraising, student-loan withdrawals and online lending fraud, according to the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body that makes counterterror recommendations.

That is making it more challenging for law enforcement to spot and stop terror attacks and terrorism recruits. A former Treasury official equated policing terror funding in the burgeoning financial marketplace to “looking for a needle in a massive haystack.”

A spokesman for eBay Inc. said the company “has zero tolerance for criminal activities taking place on our marketplace” and said that they are working with law enforcement on the case.

A spokeswoman for PayPal HoldingsInc. said that it “invests significant time and resources in working to prevent terrorist activity on our platform….We proactively report suspicious activities and respond quickly to lawful requests to support law enforcement agencies in their investigations.”

The affidavit indicates that several other alleged operatives of the network had been arrested in Britain and Bangladesh, making it one of the most significant suspected Islamic State financial networks yet uncovered.

The operation pulled in investigators across the U.S. intelligence empire and involved coordination with several other countries, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Some of the key players in the alleged network, also used to buy military supplies, were arrested or killed in a coordinated global sweep in December 2015, according to the FBI affidavit. Mr. Sujan was killed in a drone strike on Dec. 10, 2015, according to a person familiar with the matter. At the time, Mr. Sujan was Islamic State’s director of computer operations, according to the affidavit.

The financial network, according to the FBI affidavit, operated through a British technology company founded by Mr. Sujan. His company had offices in Bangladesh, and Mr. Sujan also was setting up a branch in Turkey, according to the affidavit. It is unclear when Mr. Sujan left to join Islamic State in Syria.

The FBI affidavit was filed under seal in January in support of search warrants requested by federal prosecutors for information from U.S. technology firms on social-media and email accounts established by Mr. Elshinawy and other suspects.

The unsealing of the affidavit was brought to public attention Thursday by a researcher with George Washington University’s program on extremism.

Mr. Sujan’s company, which built websites and “obtained and configured printers,” spent $18,000 to buy, from a Canadian company, military-grade surveillance equipment that could be used for aerial targeting, according to the affidavit. It also ordered electronic bug-sweeping equipment from a U.S. company to be sent to Turkey, the affidavit said.

Mr. Elshinawy received a total of $8,700 from individuals associated with Islamic State, according to the affidavit, including five payments through PayPal from Mr. Sujan’s company.

He used the money for a laptop, a cellphone and a VPN communications network, all of which the FBI claims he used to communicate with the Islamic State network, according to the affidavit.

Mr. Elshinawy told the FBI he knew the money was meant to conduct a terrorist attack in the U.S., according the affidavit. But he said he never planned to carry out any attack. Instead, the affidavit indicated, he said he was taking the money from “thieves.”

(BBG) Islamic State Is Dying on the Battlefield—and Winning on the Internet

(BBG) The war against the terror group’s ideology will have to be waged for years.

Mosul, July 2017.

PHOTOGRAPH: IBL/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

After Iraqi forces reclaimed control of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, on July 10, Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared “total victory” over Islamic State. The American commander of the global coalition to defeat the group, U.S. Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, said the loss of Mosul had dealt a ­“decisive blow” to the terrorist organization. With U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters preparing to capture Raqqa, the terrorists’ stronghold in Syria, President Donald Trump predicted “the total destruction of ISIS.”

Three years since the insurgent group declared the establishment of an “Islamic caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria, it faces military defeat. Islamic State no longer possesses a base of operations from which to coordinate sophisticated attacks. The group’s estimated annual revenue has plummeted, from almost $2 billion in 2014 to less than $870 million in 2016.

Yet as Islamic State evolves from a self-governing quasi-­state to a networked global insurgency, “the threat of ISIS-inspired attacks may grow, including on Western targets such as the United States,” according to a July 18 report, “Countering ISIS and Its Effects,” by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The more territory it loses, the more it will use online platforms to inspire followers to carry out violence in their home countries. “Their narrative isn’t going away,” says Joshua Geltzer, a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council. “On the messaging front, they will adapt or stay one step ahead.”

At its peak, Islamic State commanded an army of 40,000 foreign fighters (including 6,000 from Europe) in Iraq and Syria. Much of that cadre was killed during the fight for Mosul, according to Martin Reardon, senior vice president for the Soufan Group, a private intelligence firm staffed by former senior U.S. and European intelligence officials. The ferocity of the fighting forced much of the civilian population to flee the city. The remaining Islamic State militants, who number in the thousands, “are not just going to say the war is over and then have kids and settle down on the farm,” says Reardon. He expects hardened fighters to slip back into Iraq’s vast and dispossessed Sunni heartland, where they will find climes genial enough to maintain their online media operations, rebuild, and reemerge at the right moment.

The military campaign has damaged the group’s ability to generate propaganda. An analysis by the West Point Combating Terrorism Center found that the number of Islamic State-produced “visual media products”—videos, illustrated reports, and photos embedded in Twitter posts—declined by 75 percent from August 2015 to September 2016. Technology companies have also begun to police their platforms more aggressively, in part because of pressure from European regulators to combat hate speech.Facebook Inc., for instance, now has 150 ­employees working full-time on identifying and removing terrorist content in more than 30 languages. It also has partnered with Google Inc., Twitter Inc., and other companies to create a database of “digital fingerprints” that can identify accounts linked to terrorists.

The problem is they’re often chasing ghosts. Islamic State operatives are adept at creating social media accounts that remain dormant, and undetectable, until the moment they’re activated. Jihadists forced off Twitter and Facebook turn increasingly to encrypted platforms such asTelegram and WhatsApp. While that may reduce the size of their audience, it makes them more difficult for intelligence agencies to track. Large-scale operations to remove terrorist postings have yielded limited results. Last year, Operation Glowing Symphony, conducted by the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, managed to wipe out troves of Islamic State videos and social media handles—only to have most of the content reappear within days. “There are no silver bullets,” says Brian Fishman, Facebook’s head of counterterrorism policy. “Even as we’re developing new capabilities to keep our platform safe, terrorist groups are watching and taking countermeasures. We’re up against an adversary that’s smart, dedicated, and focused.”

During the Obama administration, the U.S. sought to increase the influence of credible, mainstream voices in Muslim societies—through initiatives such as the Sawab Center, an Abu Dhabi-based hub that produces social media content that challenges the Islamic State narrative. But plans to expand that model to other countries, such as Malaysia, have stalled, U.S. officials say. During his visit to Riyadh in May, Trump hailed the creation of the Saudi-run Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, which administration officials hope will become the linchpin of ­counterterrorist messaging in the Arab world.

Whether the Saudis use the center to target Islamic State or the kingdom’s geopolitical rivals, Iran and Qatar, remains to be seen. Sami Nader, head of the Beirut-based Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, says Trump’s efforts to push governments in the region to take the lead in fighting terrorist propaganda was “a step in the right direction. But it was more geared toward fighting terrorism in general instead of dealing with the post-Islamic State situation.”

Terrorism experts say countermessaging also needs to be integrated with programs that address the process of radicalization, which still takes place largely offline—in gyms, schools, prisons, and mosques. The Strong Cities Network, a consortium of mayors and community leaders from 200 cities around the world, illustrates the role of local institutions in developing counterradicalization policies. The Trump administration, however, has taken a dim view of community-­based efforts, which went by the label “countering violent extremism” (CVE) under the Obama administration. The White House’s 2018 budget would eliminate the Department of Homeland Security’s $50 million budget for CVE programs. In its July 18 report, the Government Accountability Office concluded that “the federal government does not have a cohesive strategy or process for assessing the countering violent extremism effort.”

The U.S.-led military campaign against Islamic State may be nearing a climax, but defeating the terrorists’ ideology will require a wider set of policy tools. “We’ve focused far too much on the military piece and not enough on finding a holistic solution to why people seek out this ideology,” says Farah Pandith, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “We’re solving the problem of today and not thinking enough about what it’s going to look like tomorrow.”

In a recent published interview, the head of strategic operational planning for the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Michael Nagata, echoed that assessment. “Terrorism in its various forms is not just ‘here to stay,’ ” he said, “but is going to continually adapt and seek growth in ways that we probably cannot completely anticipate or predict.” —With Cam Simpson and Donna Abu-Nasr

(Reuters) After Mosul, Islamic State digs in for guerrilla warfare

(Reuters) Islamic State militants began reinventing themselves months before U.S.-backed Iraqi forces ended their three-year reign of terror in Mosul, putting aside the dream of a modern-day caliphate and preparing the ground for a different fight.

Intelligence and local officials said that, a few months ago, they noticed a growing stream of commanders and fighters flowing out of the city to the Hamrin mountains in northeast Iraq which offer hideouts and access to four Iraqi provinces.

Some were intercepted but many evaded security forces and began setting up bases for their new operations.

What comes next may be a more complex and daunting challenge for Iraqi security forces once they finish celebrating a hard-won victory in Mosul, the militants’ biggest stronghold.

Intelligence and security officials are bracing for the kind of devastating insurgency al Qaeda waged following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, pushing Iraq into a sectarian civil war which peaked in 2006-2007.

“They are digging in. They have easy access to the capital,” Lahur Talabany, a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official, told Reuters. As part of the U.S.-led coalition, he is at the forefront of efforts to eliminate Islamic State.

“I believe we have tougher days coming.”

Some Iraqi Islamic State fighters have roots dating back to al Qaeda’s campaign of car and suicide bombs that exploded by the dozens each day and succeeded in fueling a sectarian bloodbath in Iraq, a major oil producer and key U.S. ally.

When a U.S.-funded tribal initiative crushed al-Qaeda, the hardcore regrouped in the desert between Iraq and Syria. They reappeared with a new jihadist brand that took the world by surprise: Islamic State.

Shortly after its lighting sweep through Mosul, the group outdid al Qaeda’s brutality, carrying out mass beheadings and executions as it imposed its ultra-hardline ideology.

Unlike al-Qaeda, it seized a third of Iraqi territory, gaining knowledge of land that could come in handy as it hits back at Iraqi security forces.

Saddam’s Intelligence Agents

Former Iraq intelligence officers who served under Saddam Hussein joined forces with Islamic State in an alliance of convenience. These shrewd military strategists from his Baath Party are expected to be the new generation of Islamic State leaders, Talabany and other security officials said.

Instead of trying to create a caliphate, a concept which attracted recruits from disaffected fellow Sunni Muslims, Islamic State leaders will focus on far less predictable guerrilla warfare, Iraqi and Kurdish security officials said.

Iraqi forces have come a long way since they collapsed in the face of the Islamic State advance in 2014, throwing down their weapons and removing their military uniforms in panic.

They fought for nearly nine months to seize Mosul, with steady help from U.S.-led airstrikes that flattened entire neighborhoods.

The key question is whether an army that is far more comfortable with conventional warfare can take on an insurgency with sleeper cells and small units of militants who pop out of deserts and mountains, carry out attacks and melt away.

FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises from an airstrike during a battle between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in western Mosul, Iraq, May 21, 2017.Alaa Al-Marjani/File photo

“They’ll try to hide with the population. Their cells will get smaller – instead of companies and platoons, they’ll go to squads and cells, much smaller elements hiding in the population,” Lieutenant-General Steve Townsend, commander of the U.S.-led coalition, told reporters.

“Our Iraqi security force partners will have to engage in counter-insurgency style operations at some point and we’re already making efforts now to start shaping their training towards that next ISIS tactic.”

History suggests training may not be enough.

The United States spent $25 billion on the Iraqi military during the American occupation that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 and triggered an insurgency that included al Qaeda.

That did not prepare the army for the long-haired Islamic State militants who sped into Mosul in pickup trucks with weapons stolen from retreating Iraqi troops.

Slideshow (2 Images)

Iraqi forces can certainly point to successes in Mosul and the cities of Falluja and Ramadi in Anbar province, once held by Islamic State.

But local officials say the cities remain vulnerable to attacks from the vast desert nearby mastered by militants.

“Security operations will be useless unless security forces control the desert,” said Anbar official Emad Dulaimi, adding that the desert had become a safe haven for Islamic State.

“It is not present as an organization in cities but it carries out attacks by individuals. Car bombs. Suicide bombers. People fear Islamic State will come back. There are attacks every day.”

Tareq Youssef al-Asal, leader of a tribal force, shares those concerns and complains of what he says is a lack of a coordination among numerous local security forces.

“In the end these leaderships have no experience fighting in the desert,” he said.

Some ordinary citizens still do not feel safe despite the Iraqi army’s improved performance.

Anbar resident Ahmed al-Issawy does not plan on re-opening his restaurant anytime soon. He is afraid it will be destroyed the same way it was in clashes between security forces and Islamic State in 2014.

“I am afraid there could be an attack at any second,” he said.

Islamic State has not wasted any time in implementing its new strategy despite a major loss in Mosul.

About 30 militants armed with machine guns and mortars crossed the Tigris river in wooden boats, attacked the village of Imam Gharbi, some 70 km (44 miles) south of Mosul in early July and then pulled out, according to security officials.

“The notion of a caliphate is gone. The dream is gone. They will revert back to their old tactics of hit and run attacks,” said senior Kurdish official and former Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari. “The hardcore will keep fighting.”

(OBS) Estados Unidos dizem que líder do Estado Islâmico está vivo

(OBS) O secretário da Defesa dos EUA disse que Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, líder do Estado Islâmico, está vivo. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi tinha sido dado como morto pelo Observatório da Síria.

AY-COLLECTION/SIPA

Jim Mattis, secretário da Defesa dos Estados Unidos, afirmou esta sexta-feira que o líder do Estado Islâmico, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, “ainda está vivo”. A notícia está a ser avançada pela Reuters. As afirmações de Jim Mattis contrariam o Observatório dos Direitos Humanos da Síria, que no início do mês tinha confirmado a morte de Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi após um ataque aéreo feito pela Rússia. Na altura, o Observatório citou “líderes, alguns dos mais altos cargos” da própria organização terrorista.

De acordo com o secretário, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi conseguiu esconder-se das forças de segurança em Raqqa, na Síria. Já Lahur Talabany, membro de uma organização curda de contra-terrorismo, havia afirmado esta semana que tem “99% de certeza que Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi está vivo” porque tem informações que confirmam que o líder do Estado Islâmico sobreviveu ao ataque russo.

À Reuters, Jim Mattis disse: “Não vi nada que me leve a acreditar que o líder do Estado Islâmico foi removido do campo de batalha. Simplesmente não temos informações que confirmem sua morte”.

Al-Baghdadi foi anunciado como líder do Estado Islâmico a 16 de maio de 2010, um mês depois do seu antecessor, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, ter morrido durante uma operação conjunta das forças dos Estados Unidos e do Iraque, na cidade iraquiana de Tikrit. No ano seguinte, al-Baghdadi foi nomeado de “terrorista” pelos Estados Unidos. Foi oferecida uma recompensa, que foi aumentando, por informações que auxiliassem a sua captura ou morte. O problema foi que al-Baghdadi morreu e voltou à vida “várias vezes”.

A morte de al-Baghdadi já foi noticiada várias vezes e a confirmação veio de diferentes entidades. Aconteceu pela primeira vez a 6 de setembro de 2014, quatro anos depois de assumir a liderança do grupo terrorista. Dois dias depois veio a primeira confirmação de que, afinal, al-Baghdadi estava vivo. O mesmo voltou a acontecer em 2015, 2016 e, mais recentemente, em 2017.

(Economist) Last days of the caliphate: Islamic State nears its end

(Economist) Even before the battle is won, hopes of a fresh dawn for Iraq are fading.

THE fireworks have been ordered. Street parties are planned. The Iraqi government has prepared a week of festivities to mark the fall of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Three years after seizing control of the great alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates, Islamic State (IS), which has claimed so many victims in north-western Iraq, Syria and beyond, is finally dying. American-led forces in Syria breached the old city walls of IS’s capital, Raqqa, on July 4th. In Mosul, in Iraq, all but the last alleyways of the Old City were back in government hands as The Economist went to press.

Finding a backdrop from which to celebrate the liberation of Mosul will be difficult, though. Between them, IS and the coalition have destroyed too many shrines and mosques to leave much of historic value, including the al-Nuri mosque dating back to Crusader times from where Mr Baghdadi proclaimed himself caliph. Gone is the Jewish quarter, the markets with their monasteries, and the lattice balconies and sculptured masonry of another Sunni silk road city. “Overlooking the Tigris, there could be no nobler or more beautiful place to sit in,” waxed Ibn Jubayr, a Spanish travel writer who visited in the 12th century. What one side booby-trapped, the other side shelled. Almost half the neighbourhoods of west Mosul have been destroyed, including much of the Old City, estimates a foreign observer, perhaps some 20,000 houses in all. “Like Dresden,” an American general was heard muttering, touring the ruins.

The odour of putrefaction hangs in the hot air. Cameramen entering the honeycomb of the Old City return with footage of cadavers, old and young, lying under blankets in front rooms for days. Many more are buried under the rubble. Thousands trapped in the alleys IS still holds are without water or food. Iraqi soldiers maintaining a siege prevent aid workers from getting food to those inside.

Previous battles for the city have been short-lived. In 1918 and 2003, opposition melted away when British and American forces respectively marched into the city. Even in the earlier battle for East Mosul, IS fighters ceded one neighbourhood after another, and retreated west over the Tigris and onto Syria. But besieged in their Western redoubt, they have nowhere else to go. Unlike during the fall of Aleppo to the Assad regime earlier this year, no one has negotiated safe passage in the final stages of battle. The fighting goes on alley by alley.

The clear-up operation will do much to determine whether the government wins the war as well as the battle. Mosul’s exodus has realised even the UN’s worst-case predictions. About 900,000 of the city’s 2m people have been displaced; 700,000 are still homeless. The prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, wants to get people home quickly, but the UN says 200,000 have none to return to. Most of the latter come from poor neighbourhoods, like the Old City, where IS found many recruits. Strewn across Iraq, they may now spread their anger countrywide. Other reconstruction operations are proceeding slowly, too. Six months after its liberation the east side remains cut off from the electricity grid. For want of water, the UN is carting in 6m litres a day. Schools have quickly reopened, but initial jubilation has turned to despondency among teachers who, six months later, remain unpaid. Mosul’s university, once home to the region’s best engineering college, lies destroyed and abandoned.

The coalition should know better. In 2003 America’s forces rested on their laurels after their race to Baghdad, letting insurgents fill the vacuum. They did the same after beating back al-Qaeda in 2007. But once again, reconstruction is a distant prospect. Iraqi ministers estimate that rehabilitating areas liberated from IS will cost $100bn, roughly the sum they and the Americans spent on the war. But the government is broke. Sunni Gulf states are said to be considering their involvement, but have contributed next to nothing. The World Bank has reportedly committed $300m. Germany is offering €500m ($570m). Coalition talks on a ten-year reconstruction plan, set to begin in Washington on July 10th, might drum up a bit more. But, runs an Arabic proverb, commitments are clouds, implementation the rain.

Even if money is found, procurement and contracts will take time. “It will take a year before you see anything happening,” says Ammar Shubbar, an Iraqi economist. “And that will be patchwork—some sewage repair here and there.” Almost a year after taking Qayyarah to the south of Mosul, Iraq’s government has yet to reconnect it to the grid. General Electric (GE), an American company which won the contract, says it is still trying to negotiate financing. Danger and corruption, says a GE official, are further hampering the company’s hopes of re-entering Mosul. And material reconstruction is only part of the task. More perturbing than the children who shriek at the bombardment around them are those who barely flinch.

In Mosul, the initial relief at liberation from IS’s reign of terror is already turning to grumbling. IS ran services and rubbish collection better, they say. They repaired the potholes in the road faster and kept electricity going. “Why did the Iraqi government abandon us to IS in 2014, only to destroy our city when they returned?” asks a Mosul University graduate. Locals still report lurking fighters and suspicious packages to the plethora of security forces in the city. After a lull of several months, sleeper cells are reawakening in the east of the city. Suicide bombing has begun again. In the space of a week last month, three mukhtars, or neighbourhood elders, were killed. Some predict the return of a low-level insurgency much as before IS swept control in June 2014. After all, though Iran and Russia say that Mr Baghdadi is dead, his organisation still occupies swathes of (thinly-populated) territory either side of the Iraqi-Syrian border.

IS’s vestiges, though, may anyway be one of the lesser problems facing Iraq. Exultant armies and militias now occupy the ground once held by the caliphate. A generation of young Iraqis currently earn a living from fighting IS; they may now develop ambitions of their own. Having avoided confrontation while they were assaulting IS, America and its allies are now coming to blows with Iran and its allies across the border in south-eastern Syria. A similar struggle looms in Iraq. Meanwhile, Iraq’s politicians squabble, largely confined to the Green Zone, the walled city within a city occupying the core of Baghdad. So far there is not much sign of the fresh dawn that IS’s downfall should bring.

(Reuters) Iraq declares end of caliphate after capture of Mosul mosque

(Reuters) After eight months of grinding urban warfare, Iraqi government troops on Thursday captured the ruined mosque at the heart of Islamic State’s de facto capital Mosul, and the prime minister declared the group’s self-styled caliphate at an end.

Iraqi authorities expect the long battle for Mosul to end in coming days as remaining Islamic State fighters are bottled up in just a handful of neighborhoods of the Old City.

The seizure of the nearly 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque — from where Islamic State proclaimed the caliphate nearly three years ago to the day — is a huge symbolic victory.

“The return of al-Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba minaret to the fold of the nation marks the end of the Daesh state of falsehood,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement, referring to the hardline Sunni Mulsim group by an Arabic acronym.

The fall of Mosul would in effect mark the end of the Iraqi half of the IS caliphate, although the group still controls territory west and south of the city, ruling over hundreds of thousands of people.

Its stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, is also close to falling.

A U.S.-backed Kurdish-led coalition besieging Raqqa on Thursday fully encircled it after closing the militants’ last way out from the south, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

These setbacks have reduced Islamic State’s territory by 60 percent from its peak two years ago and its revenue by 80 percent, to just $16 million a month, said IHS Markit.

“Their fictitious state has fallen,” an Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told state TV.

However, it still occupies an area as big as Belgium, across Iraq and Syria, according to IHS Markit, an analytics firm.

Islamic State fighters blew up the medieval mosque and its famed leaning minaret a week ago as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces started a push in its direction. Their black flag had been flying from al-Hadba (The Hunchback) minaret since June 2014.

Much of the mosque and brickwork minaret was reduced to rubble, said a Reuters TV reporter who went to the site with the elite units that captured it.

Only the stump of the Hunchback remained, and a green dome of the mosque supported by a few pillars which resisted the blast, he said.

The mosque grounds were off limits as the insurgents are suspected to have planted booby traps.

Abadi “issued instructions to bring the battle to its conclusion,” by capturing the remaining parts of the Old City, his office said.

The cost of the fighting has been enormous. In addition to military casualties, thousands of civilians are estimated to have been killed.

About 900,000 people, nearly half the pre-war population of the northern city, have fled, mostly taking refuge in camps or with relatives and friends, according to aid groups.

Those trapped in the city suffered hunger, deprivation and IS oppression as well as death or injury, and many buildings have been ruined.

ARDUOUS TASK

Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) troops captured the al-Nuri Mosque’s ground in a “lightning operation” on Thursday, a commander of the U.S.-trained elite units told state TV.

CTS units are now in control of the mosque area and the al-Hadba and Sirjkhana neighborhoods and they are still advancing, a military statement said.

Other government units, from the army and police, were closing in from other directions.

An elite Interior Ministry unit said it freed about 20 children believed to belong to Yazidi and other minorities persecuted by the jihadists in a quarter north of the Old City which houses Mosul’s main hospitals.

A U.S.-led international coalition is providing air and ground support to the Iraqi forces fighting through the Old City’s maze of narrow alleyways.

But the advance remains arduous as IS fighters are dug in the middle of civilians, using mortar fire, snipers, booby traps and suicide bombers to defend their last redoubt.

The military estimated up to 350 militants were still in the Old City last week but many have been killed since.

They are besieged in one sq km (0.4 square mile) making up less than 40 percent of the Old City and less than one percent of the total area of Mosul, the largest urban center over which they held sway in both Iraq and Syria.

Those residents who have escaped the Old City say many of the civilians trapped behind IS lines — put last week at 50,000 by the Iraqi military — are in a desperate situation with little food, water or medicines.

“Boys and girls who have managed to escape show signs of moderate malnutrition and carry psychosocial scars,” the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF said in a statement.

Thousands of children remain at risk in Mosul, it said.

IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself ruler of all Muslims from the Grand al-Nuri Mosque’s pulpit on July 4, 2014, after the insurgents overran swathes of Iraq and Syria.

His speech from the mosque was the first time he revealed himself to the world and the footage broadcast then is to this day the only video recording of him as “caliph”.

He has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is believed to be hiding in the border area between Iraq and Syria, according to U.S. and Iraqi military sources.

The mosque was named after Nuruddin al‑Zanki, a noble who fought the early Crusaders from a fiefdom that covered territory in modern-day Turkey, Syria and Iraq. It was built in 1172-73, shortly before his death, and housed an Islamic school.

The Old City’s stone buildings date mostly from the medieval period. They include market stalls, a few mosques and churches, and small houses built and rebuilt on top of each other over the ages.

(JN) Outra vez – Nuno Melo

(JN) Madrid, Londres, Toulouse, Bruxelas, Paris, Copenhaga, Paris, Bruxelas, Nice, Wurzburgo, Rouen, Berlim, Paris, Londres, Estocolmo, Manchester, Londres e novamente Paris, por esta ordem, desde 2004. O horror vai sendo perpetrado na UE por cobardes que vitimam civis indefesos, crentes de que uma guerra se trava assim e o paraíso recompensará a loucura. A cada atrocidade repetem-se proclamações previsíveis – os terroristas não vão mudar os nossos modos de vida – insiste-se que a Europa precisa de gente e reforçam-se as juras pelo multiculturalismo. Depois, continua tudo na mesma.

Na Europa há bairros de cidades onde a Polícia não entra, a Sharia é imposta e radicais identificados pregam o fundamentalismo islâmico, no apelo à destruição dos valores de referência das sociedades ocidentais que lhes dão abrigo. Tudo se aceita, justificado no sacrossanto direito à diferença e à liberdade de expressão. Simplesmente não é normal.

O multiculturalismo implica respeito igualmente mútuo. E a Europa não precisa de gente apenas. Só faz falta quem se integre, aceitando e cumprindo as regras de quem abre as suas portas. Absurdo é que quem acolha, se possa sentir refém na sua própria terra. Mas acontece.

Os atentados registados foram cometidos na maior parte dos casos por cidadãos nascidos na Europa, quase sempre descendentes de imigrantes que deixaram países muçulmanos à procura de melhores condições de vida e em menor número, por terroristas externos. Em comum, a doutrinação multipolar pregada tanto em mesquitas tradicionais como através da sofisticação apelativa da Internet, preenchendo vazios de identidade e dando sentido messiânico à morte.

O fluxo terrorista sai, entra e circula. Deve ser controlado e combatido. Não se consegue com romantismo. Mas há quem se convença que sim.

A renovação do Passenger Name Register, criado para controlo de passageiros em aviões, em colaboração com os EUA, esteve anos a marinar no Parlamento Europeu, por haver quem defendesse que a proteção de dados que as agências de viagens já têm, deveria prevalecer sobre a segurança coletiva. Polícias de muitos países recusam-se a partilhar informações sobre dados que interessam a todos. E a pressão junto às fronteiras externas é tratada indistintamente como “fluxo de refugiados”, sem hotspots capazes de os distinguir dos migrantes que legitimamente procuram trabalho, mas são uma realidade diferente e até de terroristas que entram a par. Para muita Esquerda, milhares de pessoas sem controlo nem identificação a atravessar a UE não tem problema. Até um dia.

* DEPUTADO EUROPEU

(WP) In rare attacks in Tehran, gunmen storm parliament and shrine in assaults claimed by Islamic State

(WP) Gunmen stormed two major sites in the Iranian capital Wednesday, opening fire and detonating suicide blasts in parliament and at the revered tomb of the nation’s Islamic revolution leader. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Tehran attacks, which would mark the group’s first major strikes in Iran.

The state news agency IRNA said at least two security guards were killed and about 30 people were wounded. Hours after the attacks, parliament was still in lockdown with some of the attackers still battling security forces.

The Islamic State group’s media arm Amaq claimed the militant group carried out the twin attacks. The Islamic State, however, is often quick to take ownership of spectacular assaults without providing any evidence.

Iran is a predominantly Shiite Muslim country and is at odds with Sunni extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, which it is battling, together with its proxies, in Iraq and Syria.

Attacks of this kind are a rarity in the heart of Iran’s capital, where security forces are deployed at prominent sites. The parliament building, with a green marble chamber for lawmakers, is in the center of the city, and the tomb complex for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is about 12 miles to the south near the international airport.

“Some coward terrorists infiltrated a building in the Majlis, but they were seriously confronted,” parliament’s speaker, Ali Larijani, told IRNA. “This is a minor issue but reveals that the terrorists pursue troublemaking.”

Iranian intelligence, meanwhile, said they had foiled a third attack and arrested a team, according to the state broadcaster. The statement from the Islamic State did not mention a third attack.

Ali Khalili of the Khomeini Mausoleum told IRNA that there were at least three, possibly four, attackers who opened fire on the tomb, and one of them detonated himself at the entrance.

Lawmaker Qolam-Ali Jafarzadeh Imenabadi, meanwhile, put the number of attackers at the parliament at four and said they were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles.

One of the attackers at the parliament was arrested, added the news agency and another blew himself up with a suicide vest.

The remaining attackers were described as “under siege.”

The Associated Press cited witnesses on the scene that heard gunfire from the parliament building directed at the streets below while police helicopters circled the scene.

Despite unconfirmed reports of a hostage situation, the parliament’s spokesman Mahdi Kiaie insisted that everything at the parliament was now under control with units of the Revolutionary Guard securing the building.

Iran has suffered from terrorist attacks in the past, but rarely in the cities or the capital. Separatist groups and Sunni extremist movements have carried out bombings in the border region near Pakistan in the past, including a suicide attack on a mosque in 2010 that killed 39.

The violence in Tehran added to swelling sense of bedlam and instability across the Persian Gulf region. In addition to the civil war raging in Yemen and the ongoing war in Iraq against the Islamic State militant group, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations announced this week they were severing virtually all ties with the government of Qatar because of what they said was Qatar’s support for terrorist groups.

The extraordinary rift between the Saudi-led bloc and Qatar showed the degree to which Iran’s increasingly muscular role in the region — including its intervention in Syria’s civil war — has stirred fury among its Arab rivals. Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies, including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, have expressed growing anger at Qatar’s relatively cordial relations with Shiite Iran.

(OBS) Que mais poderíamos ter feito a Salman Abedi? – Rui Ramos

(OBS) Os europeus têm de conceber a Europa como parte do mundo do Médio Oriente e Norte de África, e de reconhecer que a viabilidade do modo de vida ocidental passa por o tornar viável em toda essa região.

Os jihadistas que, em menos de quinze dias, mataram 29 pessoas e feriram mais de 100 em Inglaterra, faziam parte de grupos e estavam referenciados pela polícia. Um deles até aparecera num documentário televisivo sobre o islamismo. Em Inglaterra, a polícia vigia mais de 3 000 suspeitos, dos quais 400 terão recebido treino no Médio Oriente. É impossível que nunca tivessem sido notados nas famílias, nos bairros e nas mesquitas, como reconheceu um porta-voz das associações de muçulmanos de Londres. Temos portanto um problema de polícia, mas também das comunidades muçulmanas.

A resposta para o terrorismo é a “repressão”. Mas se o problema for para além de uns quantos niilistas e disser respeito a grandes comunidades, como são as comunidades muçulmanas em muitas cidades da Europa, a repressão chegará a um nível em que mudará as sociedades ocidentais.

A solução estará então na “integração”? Veja-se a história do bombista de Manchester, Salman Abedi. O seu pai era um islamista radical, que obteve refúgio em Inglaterra para escapar à repressão de Kadhafi na Líbia. Abedi pôde assim nascer em segurança na Europa, onde teve acesso a casa, cuidados de saúde, escolas e subsídios para viver confortavelmente. Na Líbia, a família de Abedi era perseguida. Nos outros países do Médio Oriente, ele e os seus familiares teriam sido encurralados num campo de tendas e proibidos de trabalhar, como acontece aos refugiados sírios na Turquia, dependentes da caridade das Nações Unidas. Na Inglaterra, era livre para praticar a sua religião, tinha passaporte, podia votar e ser eleito. Que mais podia a Inglaterra ter feito pela “integração” de Abedi?

Há coisas, porém, que os ocidentais não fizeram para Abedi se sentir integrado. Por exemplo, não mandam as mulheres ficar em casa e só sair à rua escondidas numa burka. Não chicoteiam e condenam à morte homossexuais. Não proibiram o cristianismo nem fecharam as igrejas. Mas se o Ocidente não tenciona transformar-se numa versão do regime salafista da Arábia Saudita, deverá exigir aos muçulmanos que se “adaptem” aos valores, costumes e leis das sociedades de acolhimento?

A tese da “adaptação” tem dois problemas. Um é saber a que Ocidente se devem adaptar. Ao que afirma a tradição cristã e iluminista e o Estado de direito, ou ao que nega e desvaloriza tudo isso como uma abjecção sexista e racista, e reconhece ao jihadismo o direito de retaliação das “vítimas”?

O outro problema é este: as comunidades muçulmanas na Europa estão em expansão e o peso demográfico das suas sociedades de origem não cessa de aumentar perante uma Europa envelhecida e em refluxo populacional. Em 1950, a Europa ocidental tinha 142 milhões de habitantes, e o Norte de África e a Ásia Ocidental, 99; hoje, a Europa ocidental tem 191 milhões, e o Norte de África e a Ásia Ocidental, 489. É portanto irrealista esperar que os muçulmanos europeus se diluam simplesmente nas sociedades de acolhimento. Pelo contrário, é muito provável que continuem a ser inspirados pelas suas sociedades de origem, incluindo pelas ideologias aí vigentes.

Tudo isto quer dizer que há que pensar para além do paroquialismo da “integração”, da “adaptação” ou da “repressão” doméstica. Os europeus precisam talvez de começar a conceber a Europa como parte do mundo do Médio Oriente e do Norte de África, e de reconhecer que a viabilidade do modo de vida ocidental passa por o tornar viável em toda essa região, nomeadamente eliminando os focos de galvanização e treino do terrorismo.

Bem sei: era assim que pensava George W. Bush. Mas só porque Bush pensou assim, não quer dizer que um dia não precisemos de o pensar outra vez. Os muros à Donald Trump não vão chegar. Por menos jeito que nos dê admitir isso, o facto é que o terrorismo islâmico é um problema da globalização, que só poderá ser resolvido globalmente.

(BBC) London attack: What we know so far

(BBC) Seven people were killed in central London when three attackers drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge and launched a knife attack in Borough Market.

The attackers were shot dead by officers in what police have declared to be a terrorist incident. Here is what we know so far.

Map showing how the terror attack around London Bridge and Borough unfolded
space

What happened?

Police said that the attack began at 21:58 BST on Saturday when a van drove on to London Bridge from the north side.

Latest updates on London Bridge attack

It mounted the pavement and hit several people, before crashing near the Barrowboy and Banker pub at the southern end of the bridge.

Three men got out, armed with knives, and ran the short distance to Borough Market where they stabbed several people.

Armed police and ambulances were called at 22:08 BST.

Eyewitnesses spoke of attackers targeting people in pubs and restaurants. Some people tried to fight them off by throwing chairs and glasses.

As the area was cordoned off, police shouted at members of the public to run or hide.

Locations around Borough Market involved in the attack

Media caption“Run, run, run, they’re stabbing everyone”: The eyewitness accounts

One witness to the attack, Gerard Vowls, told the BBC: “They were running up shouting, ‘This is for Allah.’ They stabbed this girl maybe 10 times, 15 times.”

London Ambulance Service took more than 100 emergency calls about the incident.

The three attackers were shot dead by police within eight minutes of the first call.

Eight armed officers fired an “unprecedented” 50 shots at the attackers, who were wearing fake suicide vests.

A member of the public was also shot during the operation and was taken to hospital.

The so-called Islamic State group has said it was behind the attack.

Media captionWatch: How the attacks unfolded

The victims

Chrissy ArchibaldImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionCanadian Chrissy Archibald is the first victim to be named

The first of the seven dead to be named was Chrissy Archibald, a Canadian who was originally from British Columbia.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that a Frenchman was also killed, with another seven French nationals injured. Four are in a critical condition.

casualty phone line has been set up for members of the public who are concerned about friends and relatives.

People have been told they can ring 0800 096 1233 or 020 7158 0197 but only “in a genuine emergency”.

Information has begun to emerge about some of the 48 injured.

Five London hospitals are continuing to treat 36 of the victims; 21 are said to be in a critical condition.

Four police officers were hurt. A British Transport Police officer was seriously injured when he confronted the attackers outside London Bridge station armed only with his baton.

An off-duty Metropolitan Police officer was also seriously injured having rugby-tackled one of the terrorists. Neither has life-threatening injuries.

Daniel O’Neill, 23, is among the injured recovering in hospital. His mother, Elizabeth O’Neill, said he had a seven-inch scar running from his belly to his back after being stabbed by a man saying “this is for my family, this is for Islam”.

The Australian PM confirmed four nationals had been caught up in the attack.

New Zealander Oliver Dowling was stabbed alongside his French girlfriend Marie Bondeville, with both requiring surgery, said the New Zealand Herald.

Sunday Express journalist Geoff Ho was also injured.

The attackers

Man on ground at Borough MarketImage copyrightGABRIELE SCIOTTO
Image captionPhotographer Gabriele Sciotto’s image from the attack appears to show a man with canisters around his waist

The Met Police say they know the identity of the three attackers and that their names will be released “as soon as operationally possible”.

Twelve people were arrested on Sunday in Barking, east London, following a raid by police on a flat owned by one of the attackers. A 55-year-old man was later released without charge.

The dead attacker was, according to neighbours, a married man with two children. He had lived there for about three years, they said.

Media caption“Get down” – police enter bar at London Bridge

One man, who did not want to be named, said one of the attackers had become more extreme over the past two years. The man said he had contacted authorities but no action was taken.

What is happening now?

The priority of the investigation, led by the Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, is to establish whether anyone else was involved.

Map showing location of raids

Officers searched two addresses in east London on Monday morning, detaining a “number of people” in Newham and Barking.

Police say a “huge amount” of forensic material and evidence has been seized in raids so far.

Police are still asking anyone with photographs or videos of the incident to upload them here.

Cordons around London Bridge and Borough Market have been lifted. Both London Bridge rail and Tube stations are open. London Bridge is open to pedestrians and traffic on the northbound side.

The UK terrorism threat level remains at severe, having been raised to critical for a short time after the Manchester attack.

The Home Office has set up a website for those affected.

Global reaction

PM Theresa May said on Monday: “This was an attack on London and the United Kingdom, but it was also an attack on the free world.”

On Sunday, she said it was time to say “enough is enough”, calling for new measures to tackle extremism.

Media captionPrime Minister Theresa May: “Enough is enough’

Mrs May confirmed the general election will go ahead as planned on Thursday.

Most national campaigning was suspended on Sunday but resumed on Monday.

US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the UK, we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!”

Mr Trump also took the opportunity to call for his travel ban on visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries to be upheld by US courts.

Other world leaders have also condemned the attack, including French President Emmanuel Macron who said his country “is more than ever at the side of the United Kingdom”.