Pentagon readies for Trump aggressive combat proposals against Islamic State

The Defense Department is prepared to provide the new administration with military options to accelerate the war against ISIS in Syria that could send additional US troops into direct combat, CNN has learned


These options would inherently increase the risk for US troops compared to what President Barack Obama was willing to accept.
The options will be ready for President-elect Donald Trump to consider as soon as he takes office and would be presented by James Mattis as the new defense secretary and Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They would have the final say on any details being briefed to the new president for his approval.
Options to deal with other hotspots, including Iran, are also being prepared, according to the defense official.
The options had already been worked up by the military during the Obama administration, but the authorities to carry them out were never approved by President Barack Obama.
New authorizations by Trump, needed to act on any of the proposals, would mean the US is expanding both its military strategy on fighting ISIS and signal the Trump White House is willing to take on increased military risk. None of the options being discussed contradict positions taken by Mattis publicly at this point.
Discussing ISIS on the campaign trail, Trump pledged to “bomb the s–t out of them.” And in September, he said, “I am also going to convene my top generals and give them a simple instruction: They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for defeating ISIS.”
US military planners and intelligence officials have now mapped virtually every airstrip and location in Syria that might have to be used by US troops, according to the official directly familiar with the details.
One option would put hundreds, if not thousands, of additional US troops into a combat role as part of the fight to take Raqqa.
Depending on progress in arming and training the full Syrian Democratic Forces — a local fighting force — in the coming months, the Pentagon could put several US brigade-sized combat teams on the ground, each team perhaps as many as 4,000 troops.
There is no consensus on the size of any US deployment being proposed, because a final decision on how many to send would depend on what is done with issues like arming the Kurds, who are also US partners in the fight.
The US troops would not enter Raqqa but would focus on territory outside the city, calling in airstrikes and controlling roads and towns around Raqqa.
In addition, heavily armed US Special Operations Forces could be put in a direct combat role for the first time, beyond their current mission to advise and assist local forces.
Another key option is for Trump to authorize the Pentagon for the first time to arm Kurdish fighters, who would be used to control villages and roads around Raqqa.
The move would be highly controversial because it would surely anger Turkey — a NATO ally — which does not want to see Kurdish elements gain further military strength, the official said.
But the Pentagon believes that the Kurds and Arabs who make up the Syrian Democratic Forces are the only local fighters able to take the ground around Raqqa, ISIS’s self-declared capital and its most important stronghold in the country. Arab elements of the SDF are the ones who would eventually enter Raqqa, a predominantly Arab town. Currently, the SDF has about 50,000 fighters. The Kurdish YPG portion of the SDF is about 27,000, though it includes some Arabs. The Syrian Arab Coalition portion of the SDV has 23,000 forces, with some Kurds in the mix.
Trump will be briefed on efforts to capture or kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. There have been multiple intelligence tips in recent weeks about Baghdadi’s whereabouts, the official said. But none of them have been “real-time” sightings, only tips on where he had recently been seen.
Military and intelligence officials are now working through that data to narrow down a possible location. A recent mission by the US Expeditionary Targeting Force outside Deir Ezzor was specifically aimed at capturing an ISIS operative who was believed to have intelligence on Baghdadi, but the person opened fire on the American troops, who then killed him.
Another set of options aims to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region, something Mattis has already indicated is one of his top priorities. US military commanders would like more authority to stop Iranian weapons shipments into Yemen through the Bab al-Mandab waterway between Yemen and the Horn of Africa, the official said.
This authority could extend to trying to stop the buildup of shore installations along the Yemen coast using Iranian-supplied weapons to attack shipping and US military vessels transiting through the area.
In October, the US conducted missile strikes against coastal installations being run by Iranian-supported fighters to attack US Navy ships. Additional options are being updated to ensure the Strait of Hormuz cannot be shut down by Iran.
One area of increased US military activity in the coming days that Trump has not yet had a role in is Afghanistan. Within days, Afghan forces — with support from US air and ground units — will launch a series of operations in southern and eastern Afghanistan against the Taliban.
These are likely to be the first intensified military operations of the Trump administration but have been long planned by the Pentagon, the official said.

#DaeshRuin, Sawab Centre launches a new social media campaign


The Sawab Centre, a joint UAE-US initiative to combat Daesh’s online propaganda and promote positive alternatives to extremism, announced the launch of a social media campaign to highlight Daesh’s myriad atrocities and crimes against humanity.

The campaign will also focus on the Global Coalition Against Daesh’s significant progress in eroding the terrorist group’s military and economic capabilities, stabilising liberated areas, and reversing the legacy of Daesh’s destructive actions and ideology.

The three-day campaign will be conducted in Arabic and English on Sawab’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube platforms and will employ the hashtag “#DaeshRuin.”

Daesh preys on vulnerable youth around the world to isolate them from their families and recruit them into its depraved enterprise. In areas under its control, the terrorist group routinely kidnaps, enslaves, and trafficks women and young girls and brainwashes young boys into becoming cannon fodder and suicide bombers. In the wake of Daesh violence and devastation, thousands of families have been torn apart and displaced in camps and even across national borders.

As part of its misguided assault on civilisation, Daesh has defaced or substantially destroyed several important cultural heritage sites in Syria and Iraq, including Palmyra and Nimrud. Daesh also loots these same sites and illicitly trade in historical antiquities, including priceless works dating back to centuries, to fund its nefarious activities.

Daesh persecutes all those who do not conform to its world view, and has destroyed scores of mosques, churches, and other places of worship, even striking at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah during Eid Al Fitr prayers.

The Global Coalition is successfully driving Daesh militants from the group’s former strongholds and crippling their capacity to wage terror and sow destruction. Daesh has lost 61 per cent of the populated territory it once held in Iraq and 28 per cent of what it once held in Syria. Global efforts are also succeeding in significantly limiting Daesh’s recruitment of new terrorist fighters, weakening its economic infrastructure including its generation of oil revenue, and countering its propaganda and corrupt ideology.

Other Sawab campaigns have focused on the terrorist group’s enslavement of women and children, the importance of diversity to a well-functioning society, and the positive impact that youth can have on their communities.

Since its launch in July 2015, the Sawab Centre has encouraged governments, communities, and individual voices to engage proactively to counteract online extremism. Over this time, the centre has given voice to the millions of people around the world who oppose Daesh and support the centre’s efforts to expose the terrorist group’s brutality and criminal nature.

Islamic extremists are hoping to launch a horrifying attack on Washington DC on the day Donald Trump is sworn in as President

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Terrorists living in war-torn zones in the Middle East are calling on believers to target the inauguration ceremony on January 20, which is expected to attract more than a million people, like reported by .

The public, as well as former presidents and high-profile officials, will watch Trump get sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

Al-Qaida – which is active worldwide – said in its propaganda magazine “Inspire” that its followers should use drones containing improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to cause devastation in the “target rich” area.

Another edition of the vile publication states wannabe jihadis should look to attack areas “flooded with individuals, e.g. such as sports events in which tens of thousands attend, election campaigns, festivals and other gatherings [sic]. The important thing is that you target people and not buildings”.

It adds Washington DC is its number one symbolic target.

Fellow Islamic terror group ISIS has also announced its intentions to kill the incoming 70-year-old Republican President.

In an edition of its propaganda magazine “Rumiyeh”, it called on believers to target the inauguration.

It advises that brainwashed jihadis should look to cause carnage at “excellent target” events that attract masses of people by staging a “Nice-style” strike.

Last summer, 86 people were killed when lone wolf Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a lorry into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in the French city.

Just weeks ago, ISIS released another propaganda video titled “Incite the Believers to the Fight 2”, which featured footage of secret service agents rushing Trump off-stage at a rally in Nevada.

In the clip, the jihadis call for Trump and other world leaders to be assassinated.

The radicals Islamists go on to say: “What we want is their country to be delivered to a donkey like Trump who will destroy it.”

“In the end, they are all our enemies and we will only meet them on the battlefields,” the statement continued.

“It is either them or us. We ask Allah to make their destruction caused by their own plans and their death come among themselves.”

And in March last year, the evil terror cult released a video featuring in the wake of the Brussels bombings.

Trump can be heard commenting on the deadly terror attacks saying: “Brussels was one of the great cities, it was one of the most beautiful cities of the world 20 years ago, it was amazing actually, and safe.

“Now it’s a horror show, it’s an absolute horror show.”

But US security services are gearing up to put an unprecedented level of protection in place at the inauguration event.

This will see roughly 7,500 Guardsmen and 3,000 cops from various states creating a ring of defensive force around the ceremony.

As well as preventing potential Islamic terror attacks, they are also preparing to ward off potential attacks from some 75,000 protesters.

Some of those planning to march against Trump’s presidency have even vowed to “paralyse the city”.

When transaction laundering finances Islamic terror


This month marks the second anniversary of the deadly attacks in Paris, when terrorists Said and Cherif Kouachi attacked the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on January 7, 2015 and when Amedy Coulibaly, a friend of the Kouachi brothers gunned down innocent grocery shoppers and held 15 others hostage in the Hyper Cacher attack. Together, the three had amassed an arsenal of weapons worth €25,000. These included rifles, rocket launchers, grenades, and tear gas canisters.

The story of the terrorist attacks has been well publicized around the world; but the method the perpetrators used to finance their weapons is less known. How did these terrorists pay for their weapons?

According to Next Inpact News and Euipo, a report published by the French Union of Manufacturers (UNIFAB) on Counterfeiting and Terrorism, “counterfeiting is now a preferred mode of financing of terrorist groups, which organize the production and distribution of fake products to power their operations”.

In the Kouachi case, Cherif Kouachi bought €8,000 of counterfeit items, mostly consisting of Nike shoes that he procured from China via Western Union and sold in France online. Articles also mention that the terrorists were involved in selling drugs online before they sold counterfeit goods.

This chain of funding shows a clear correlation between transaction laundering and terrorism, using legitimate marketplaces to conduct illegal activity (in this case, selling counterfeit shoes) and then using the proceeds to launder money for terrorists.

Transaction Laundering is Money Laundering

Transaction laundering is the action whereby one ecommerce merchant processes payment card transactions on behalf of another merchant. However, today’s transaction launderers are not just transferring money from one merchant to another. They often use authorized ecommerce websites as fronts for an entire network of unregistered, unreported, and often unlawful lines of businesses, for example, narcotics or illegal pharmaceuticals, child pornography, sales of counterfeit goods, or weapons.

According to the FATF report, “Emerging Terrorist Financing Risks“, electronic, online and new payment methods are gaining popularity, as they can be accessed globally to transfer funds quickly. As the word ‘laundering’ implies, transaction laundering (TL) and money laundering (ML) are interrelated. In TL, the washing ‘machine’ is a virtual one — the cyber, ecommerce world itself. Criminals can easily set up websites, through which they sell high value items such as diamonds, and then process payments from these sites by routing them to legitimate, registered online stores (i.e. marketplaces, restaurants, supermarkets, toy stores, etc.)  In other cases, criminals who conduct TL, sell illegal goods on credible, global marketplaces, as described in the case above.

Illegal eCommerce: Common and Profitable

Our research shows that 508,632 sites were found to include merchants selling illegal goods. And out of the more than 500K sites, available on the open web for suitable purchasers to peruse, approximately 90K were found to be selling firearms.

TL: Easy to conduct. Hard to detect.

It is important to note that part of the difficulty in detecting TL is that the activity takes place using valid, legal payment systems. International transfers and operations through currency providers are on the rise. Therefore, anti-money laundering officials and institutions need to shift the focus of traditional cases of fraud– through stolen credit cards or the physical transfer of money (traditional ML)– to theproliferation of TL–the new, digital ML.

Resources and attention need to be allocated to raising awareness of this huge risk as well as to providing actual tools to prevent TL. This elevates the need for effective and continuous monitoring of merchants and micro merchants on marketplaces to prevent not only online violations but also to help assist in the worldwide fight against money laundering, TL and criminal activity.


Life on the edge of so-called Islamic State


Thousands of people are running from the crumbling Islamic State group in eastern Mosul every day. Other families are staying put, hiding in their homes as battles rage outside, later emerging on the streets as Iraqi forces claim victory, like reported by

In the days that follow escape or military victory, remnants of IS remain on their bodies, in their neighborhoods and seared into their minds. Men and women are still dressed in IS-mandated styles. Discarded schoolbooks reveal the IS ideology, and IS licenses, newspapers and other everyday items show how deeply entrenched the group became as it terrorized the people.

On their bodies

Islamic State militants enforce a strict dress code they say is based on Islamic values. Families running from the war and the militant group are almost always Muslims, and they disagree, saying these rules are not recognized by mainstream Islam.

Regardless, when they lived under IS, they followed orders or faced harsh punishments. The women’s dress code: a black full-faced veil, gloves and covered feet, all in the name of modesty and piety.

This code is enforced in two ways. First, militants beat the husbands or fathers of women who are dressed in anyway ‘wrong.’ Additionally, female IS members, known locally as “The Biters” literally bite women who broke the rules.

As families flee, many women flip the veils off their faces when they reach Iraqi-controlled areas.

Male dress codes are just as strict, although a little more difficult for outsiders and even many Mosul residents to understand. IS militants insist all men are bearded and their hair is of even length. Pants must have elastic sewn into the cuffs so they don’t reach past men’s ankles. Many men improvise by pulling socks over their cuffs or wearing sweatpants.

Men say non-compliance with dress codes could get them just a beating on the ankles in the streets, or jail time that includes whippings and other forms of violence.

As Iraqi forces push into eastern Mosul, men emerge from their homes dressed IS-style, but change their appearance within hours or days.

“On the day the Iraqi forces took our street, we immediately shaved our beards,” says 27-year-old Ashraf, outside his Mosul shop in an area recently won by Iraqi forces. “Later in the day, we heard shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar!’ coming from behind the Iraqi army lines.

“We thought maybe they were counterattacking, so we ran to the sinks to retrieve our hair,” he jokes.

Small shops that have recently opened around refugee camps say razors are their biggest seller.


People fleeing IS in Iraq often laugh bitterly about the school curriculum the militants developed that cause most families to keep their children at home. “In the schools,” they say, “they only teach one bullet plus one bullet equals two bullets.”

A textbook for children around the age of seven reveals that their assessment of IS education is no joke. The books aggrandize violence, with cartoons of weapons and fighters on almost every page. Arithmetic problems on one page ask things like: If one fighter has 85 mortars and another fighter has 60 mortars, what is the difference?

At an IS clinic, posters explain why beards are required for all men and satellite television is banned. People who have escaped say punishments for non-compliance with these rules ranges from whipping to imprisonment to death.

IS legacy: Fear and destruction

As graffiti gets painted over, beards are shaven and city services are hopefully restored, IS’s real legacy is expected to remain for the unforeseeable future. Neighborhoods are crushed, families are torn apart, children have been out of school for three years, and so many people have been killed, tortured or raped that it could take years to count the victims. And if all goes as planned in the next few months and IS is driven out of Iraq, a million people could be newly homeless.

Around noon one Friday, 30-year-old Nabil stands by the gate to his house, quietly watching as soldiers display weapons they captured from IS to visiting journalists. With a thick beard and pants cuffs synched well above his ankles, he looks like an IS supporter.

Less than 24 hours before, he was not a supporter, but silently complicit, trying to protect his family under IS rule.

“They were staying in that house for a week,” he says, pointing to the house next door. “We could hear them talking on their walkie-talkies.”

As news reached Nabil that the Iraqi army was getting closer to his area, he still felt powerless over the heavily armed militants. “We couldn’t tell them to leave. We were scared.”

In villages and city centers, locals describe the two-and-a-half years they spent under IS as life in a prison, and are eager to share some of the horrors they survived.

“They killed my brother and my mother after accusing them of helping the Iraqi police,” says 20-year-old Farah, a few minutes after arriving at a makeshift bus station set up just outside the war zone. She and her family had fled on foot only an hour ago, and they duck behind a building when they hear the far-away crack of gunfire.

“They murdered my brother in a mosque while he was praying,” she adds. “This is not Islam.”

Hamza bin Laden: Al Qaeda poster boy

He has established himself as an al Qaeda leader. Now the United States has declared Osama bin Laden’s son a “global terrorist”


The few photos of Hamza bin Laden that are publicly available won’t likely be of much help to investigators: they stem from the time around the turn of the millennium. At that time, the son of Osama bin Laden was 12 years old. The images show a serious, perhaps even threatening, young boy, like reported by

Wearing a turban and a camouflage military vest, the youth reads a communique – a pose in which he already presents himself as a voice for al Qaeda. Other photos from the time show him in the driver’s seat of an off-road vehicle with a bullet-riddled windshield or crouching on a stony plain with a machine gun in his hands.

These photos document the young man’s journey to jihad – a career that would eventually lead him to the highest ranks of international terrorism: In early January, the US State Department declared him an “international terrorist.” It is a title once held by his father.

In the eyes of al Qaeda strategists, his inclusion on the State Department list will no doubt raise Hamza bin Laden’s credibility and authority within the organization. The title is seen as a badge of honor among jihadis. And, though hundreds of individuals are on the list, Hamza, as the son of Osama bin Laden, will certainly be a standout.

Al Qaeda will undoubtedly be happy about the label: Hamza bin Laden is currently thought to be the most likely candidate to take over leadership of the terrorist network. After Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in the spring of 2011, his confidant, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, became the voice and face of the group. However, al-Zawahiri, who was born in 1951, had none of the charisma of his predecessor. For that reason, it is thought that Osama’s own charismatic son Hamza is destined to lead the organization.

As the photos show, it is a role for which the young man was groomed early on. “His father took him by the hand from a young age,” explains terrorism expert Peter Bergen, author of the book “United States of Jihad.” “Hamza has been very much indoctrinated with the whole jihadi kind of message. He’s a true believer. I think that makes him a concern.”

As he grew older, bin Laden became more involved in al Qaeda’s activities. It is thought that he can be seen in a 2005 video of an attack on Pakistani security forces in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Threatening messages

Over the past few years, he has increasingly presented himself as a leading jihadi in al Qaeda. In August 2015 he released an audio message calling on his adherents to take the fight to Washington, London, Paris and Tel Aviv.

In another audio message, from May, he spoke about the conflict in the Middle East and the war in Syria. The “blessed Syrian revolution” has made the “liberation” of Jerusalem more likely, he exclaimed. He went on to say that jihadis fighting there should join forces. “There is no longer an excuse for those who insist on division and disputes now that the whole world has mobilized against Muslims.”

That same month, al Qaeda boss al-Zawahiri announced that the young man had been admitted to the organization’s leadership.

Bin Laden released another audio message in July, proclaiming that “we are all Osama,” and threatening the United States. In the message he announced that he would seek revenge for his father’s killing. Further, he stated that his organization would respond to the “oppression of the people of Palestine, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Muslim lands that did not survive your oppression.” Revenge for his father’s death, he said, would not only be carried out in his name, but in the name “of all who defend Islam.”

Those public statements, released within such a short period of time, suggest that al Qaeda is seeking to intensify its recruiting efforts. Over the last several years the group has lost much of its attractiveness, as more and more young Islamists have turned to the so-called “Islamic State” (IS).

Unlike al Qaeda, IS is putting its energy into establishing a caliphate, which it hopes to spread across the globe. In contrast, al Qaeda has much more modest aims. Al-Zawahiri’s fighters are primarily concerned with ending the presence of Western, but especially US military forces in the Middle East. They see this as a prerequisite for establishing a just Islamic order in the region. As well, they are committed to fighting what they see as corrupt rulers, such as the Saudi royal family in Saudi Arabia.

IS presents itself in a much more brutal fashion than al Qaedas. Although al Qaeda also decapitated prisoners, it never did so on the scale that IS has. IS has also made a name for itself through systematic rape and unbridled brutality. IS videos, which propagate this culture of brutality, have apparently also brought the group many new recruits. “One should not underestimate the power of these images,” as French Islamist Mickaël Devredt, alias “Abu-Rayan,” explained to terrorism researcher David Thomson. Today’s generation of 18-to-20-year-olds is the first to have grown up with the internet. “And just imagine what effect they have on the mind of a person that has grown up with Islamism.”

Thus far, al Qaeda has offered little to counter the propaganda disseminated by IS. Hamza bin Laden’s rise to the top of al Qaeda could be an attempt to change that.

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia: ‘Concerts and cinema are Haram’

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Ibn Abdullah al-Sheikh, stated that “concerts and cinemas are forbidden in Islam as they corrupt morals and values.”


Amid a controversy in Saudi Arabia surrounding the authorization of concerts and the building cinemas in the country, Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Ibn Abdullah al-Sheikh, said publicly that these means of entertainment are forbidden in Islam.

The Mufti, who holds the position of President of the Council of Senior Ulema and Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Scientific Research and Fatwas, explained his view that prohibiting concerts and cinemas is valid as they as they bring, in his opinion, “no good and [involve] harm and corruption of the morals and destruction of the values, and are a cause for the two genders to mix.”

The Sheikh issued these statements in his weekly TV program, “With the Grand Mufti,” where he also pointed out that cinemas air “corrupt, indecent and atheistic movie, which are foreign to Muslim countries and threaten to change to Muslim culture.”

“I hope everyone is guided to the good path. We know that concerts corrupt,” the Mufti said referring to concerts.

According to the Sheikh, the authorization of concerts and cinemas recently issued by Saudi Arabia’s Entertainment Committee “will not do any good to the community.”

Catching a terrorist: the top secret team who hunted Mohammed Emwazi, alias Jihadi John


For more than 30 years, a top secret US special operations intelligence unit known only as “the Activity” has been tracking down America’s enemies around the world for Delta or Seal Team Six to kill or capture, or more recently for drones to assassinate from afar with Hellfire missiles. Now President-Elect Donald Trump’s security advisers say they want the CIA to be more heavily involved in these operations, like reported by

In an excerpt from the latest updated eBook of his history of the Activity, Killer Elite, Michael Smith describes its role in the fight against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and how the CIA has already become increasingly involved with the work of America’s special operations forces.

It was just nine minutes to midnight on 12 November 2015 when Jihadi John hurried out of a building close to the headquarters of Islamic State in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. He was getting out of the city, accompanied by a team of bodyguards. He knew he was a target for the US special operations forces who were ripping the terrorist group apart and he’d been spooked by the constant presence of American drones, whirring overhead. Jihadi John had made himself a hate figure in the West with beheadings of seven journalists and aid workers videoed and broadcast on the internet.

Now he was in hiding, never using his phone and never going near the internet. But even Jihadi John didn’t realise quite how much of a target he was. He had turned himself into the public face of Islamic State. US and British forces were more focused on finding him than they were on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the organisation’s leader.

Even as he opened the door of the car, a Hellfire missile fired by an American Reaper drone several thousand feet above Raqqa was heading towards him at close to a thousand miles an hour. He had barely realised something was wrong before he was dead. The missile destroyed the car, leaving little evidence that Jihadi John and his friend had ever existed. The Pentagon said he had been “evaporated”. The Activity team tracking him preferred the term “smoked”. Ironically for a man who revelled in justifying the murder of his victims through a distorted interpretation of Sharia law, the series of missiles destroyed Jihadi John and his bodyguards on Clocktower Square, where Islamic State executed anyone who refused to bow to their brutal rule.

Until now, the operations to hunt down terrorists had been led by the Activity. But the brutal beheadings of foreign hostages had led to a manhunt involving virtually every US and British intelligence team available. The Activity was just one player in the race to find Jihadi John. The NSA and Britain’s GCHQ along with the FBI and Britain’s Security Service MI5 spent weeks trying to identify him, focusing primarily on voice recognition but also his skin colour, his height, physique, eyes and even the patterns of the veins on his hands.

By September 2014, MI5 was confident they had identified him. Jihadi John’s real name was Mohammed Emwazi. He was born in Kuwait but had been brought up in London and radicalised by fellow students while studying computer at Westminster College.

Identifying Emwazi was one thing. Finding him was another thing altogether. The CIA, Britain’s MI6 and the Activity worked together to find an agent inside Islamic State who could lead them to him. There was a lot of hard work done among the foreign fighters who had returned to Europe but eventually one was found who knew Emwazi personally and, in return for being given a new life away from the brutality of Islamic State, was prepared to help find him.

Once the agent had located him, the US spy satellites and the drones could put him under a “persistent stare”. That moment came in early November. The satellite homed in on a building sandwiched between the city’s Islamic Courts and the edge of Clocktower Square where the agent said Emwazi was spending the day and the drones — one of them British — took turns circling above Raqqa like hawks.

Everyone in the city knew they were up there from very early on. You could hear them even when you couldn’t see them. Some said there were three of them, others put the figure at five. It was why Emwazi stayed hidden in the building all day, hoping that once it was dark he could sneak away without being recognised.

There are those in the Activity who insist that the target always hears the missile a second or so before he dies. The drones’ cameras pick up a reaction, a sudden turn of the head or an attempt to run. For some of the families of Jihadi John’s victims that would have been a reassuring thought. They wanted him to know what was coming.


Al-Qaeda leader denounces Isis ‘madness and lies’

Al-Qaeda is aiming to capitalise on heavy Isis losses to gain fighters and support


The leader of al-Qaeda has attacked Isis for “madness” and “exceeding the limits of extremism” as the two terror groups continue to compete for territory and supporters around the world, like reported by

Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden when he was killed in 2011, criticised Isis for killing and “slandering” his own jihadis.

In audio message, he branded the rival group’s members “cowards” and liars with a “thirsty desire for authority”.

“Isis was struck with madness in takfir [declaring other Muslims to be apostates] and exceeded the limits of extremism,” al-Zawahiri said.

“They make takfir on the basis of lies, fabrications and even good deeds of obedience…[it is] is political, convenient and opportunistic.”

The extremist, who has had a $25 million (£20 million) bounty on his head since 9/11 and is under global sanctions due to his links to global terror attacks dating back to the 1990s, claimed Isis was “misusing the enthusiasm of the youth”.

His message was issued as an audio file in Arabic, being distributed on al-Qaeda channels and then translated and spread by supporters on social media.

It comes as pressure mounts on al-Qaeda’s numerous front groups and allies in Syria, with the US-led coalition increasingly turning its firepower on the group while Isis continues to lose territory.

American defence officials said more than 20 al-Qaeda militants were killed in north-western Syria in two rounds of strikes in the first week of January.

Analysts have long been warning of the group’s growing power in the country, where the international focus on Isis has allowed it to gain territory and support largely untroubled by foreign parties in the civil war.

Al-Zawahiri made a clear pitch to Isis defectors in his speech, urging “ones who seek the truth” to join al-Qaeda instead.

Renad Mansour, a fellow from the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House, said al-Qaeda is looking to capitalise on Isis’ losses in key strongholds including Mosul and Raqqa province.

“When Isis became so successful, many questioned the relevance and legitimacy of al-Qaeda, especially after the death of Osama bin Laden,” he told The Independent.

“Al-Zawahiri’s attack coming now shows that al-Qaeda feels a bit more confident, feels that Isis is beginning to lose.”

Dr Mansour said the leader has a “long-term timeframe” for his vision of jihad and views Isis as a “trend” that will fail and leave al-Qaeda as the dominant global terrorist group once more.

Isis evolved out of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda affiliate in the Iraq War, splitting from its predecessor group in 2013 following a power struggle between al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Jabhat al-Nusra leader Abu Mohammad al-Julani.

Al-Zawahiri had openly criticised the faction as far back as 2005, when he sent a letter to al-Zarqawi opposing his militants’ indiscriminate suicide bombings, targeting of Shia Muslims and hostage executions.

Dr Mansour said al-Qaeda is trying to position itself as a more “elitist” organisation, compared to the jihadi “populism” of Isis, which does not seek to support its actions with the use of scholars and theology.

“For al-Qaeda, success doesn’t necessarily mean building a caliphate in this lifetime, it’s a perpetual struggle against ‘infidels’,” he added.

The two groups have been competing globally for the past three years, with rival factions active across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

But despite al-Zawahiri’s “harsh” words, there have been few instances of the groups coming into direct conflict, while there have also been reports of their members sporadically uniting against common enemies in Syria.

Isis fought Jabhat al-Nusra in Qalamoun in May 2015 and targeted al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Aleppo the previous year, killing a prominent commander originally deployed to end the infighting between jihadis.

Nusra has rebranded itself to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham after announcing a supposed split from al-Qaeda, although many believe the move was merely an attempt to stop its militants being targeted by other rebel groups and foreign air strikes, and the terror organisation continues to operate several other Syrian affiliates.

Can Twitter cause terrorism?


The wife of a New York man named Alexander Pinczowski, who was killed alongside his sister in the Brussels attack, on March 26, 2016, is now suing Twitter for allowing terrorism to flourish on social media, like reported by .

Facebook, Twitter and Google, which have condemned terrorism and vowed to prevent such groups from using their sites, are often criticized when violent events ensue.

Anne Cameron Cain, the wife of Pinczowski, accused Twitter on Monday of aiding and abetting Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, by acting as the terrorist organization’s communication, recruiting and marketing arm, the New York Post reported. Cain, who is the daughter of the former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, James Cain, filed the suit in the Manhattan federal court.

“ISIS has also used Twitter’s Direct Messaging capabilities for fundraising and operational purposes,” Cain said in the 92-page lawsuit. “The conduct of Twitter was a direct, foreseeable and proximate cause of the wrongful deaths of Nohemi Gonzalez and Alexander Pinczowski.”

Saying that Twitter violated the Anti-Terrorism Act, the lawsuit reportedly stated that the social media platform played “a uniquely essential role in the development of ISIS’s image, its success in recruiting members from around the world, and its ability to carry out attacks and intimidate its enemies.”

Pinczowski had planned to fly home to New York with his 26-year-old sister, Sasha. He was on the phone, talking to his father, when the deadly blast ripped through the check-in area, killing 32 people. “The phone sounded like it went underwater and then went dead,” recalled Pinczowski’s father in court documents. In a statement reportedly provided by Cain on Monday, she urged Twitter to cut off its network to “those who would destroy our way of life.”

A similar lawsuit was filed against Facebook, Google and Twitter by Reynaldo Gonzalez, the father of Nohemi Gonzalez, an American who was one of 130 victims of the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, 2015. This family joined Cain in the latest lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

All of the lawsuits accuse Silicon Valley companies of not doing enough to restrain terrorists from using its service to expand their reach.

“The conduct of Twitter was a direct, foreseeable and proximate cause of the wrongful deaths of Nohemi Gonzalez, Alexander Pinczowski,” the New York lawsuit reportedly said.