IS takes war to foes af­ter set­backs

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

BEIRUT: Fac­ing mil­i­tary set­backs in its self-de­clared caliphate in Syria and Iraq and in­ten­si­fied air strikes from a US-led coali­tion, Is­lamic State may have de­cided in Septem­ber to take the fight to France and else­where. The ul­tra-hard­line group has fre­quently threat­ened to strike in­side Western coun­tries since it es­tab­lished it­self amid Syria’s civil war and then spread to north­ern Iraq last year, but one fighter reached in­side Syria said its spokesman Abu Mo­ham­mad Al-Ad­nani had is­sued an in­struc­tion to act abroad.

“He sent a writ­ten or­der to all sec­tors and se­cu­rity brigades to start mov­ing, in­clud­ing in Le­banon and Tur­key,” the Syr­ian IS fighter said via so­cial me­dia from north­ern Syria. “Le­banon and France and other places are all part of the oper­a­tions or­dered two months ago.” Is­lamic State has said it was be­hind Fri­day’s killings of at least 132 peo­ple in Paris in re­venge for France’s air strikes against it as well as twin sui­cide bomb­ings which killed 43 peo­ple on Thurs­day in a Beirut strong­hold of Le­banon’s Shi­ite Hezbol­lah, which is fight­ing the group in Syria.

The ul­tra-hard­line mil­i­tants have also claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for bring­ing down a Rus­sian air­liner over the Si­nai Penin­sula on Oct 31 which killed all 224 peo­ple on board af­ter Rus­sia be­gan its own cam­paign of air strikes in Syria. Turk­ish au­thor­i­ties sus­pect a high-pro­file Bri­tish ji­hadist de­tained in Tur­key last week may have been plan­ning at­tacks in Is­tan­bul sim­i­lar to those in Paris, two se­cu­rity sources told Reuters on Sun­day. The group has also threat­ened to at­tack Saudi Ara­bia, United States and Rus­sia.

It was not im­me­di­ately pos­si­ble to ver­ify the re­ported or­der, which Is­lamic State supporters and fight­ers said was given to dor­mant cells in sev­eral places. “Their mes­sages to us are sent by blood and car­nage so we send them their mes­sages back in the same way, it is sim­ple,” the north­ernSyria-based fighter said.

The group op­er­ates in a very se­cre­tive way and has a com­pli­cated struc­ture. In gen­eral, its Caliph Abu Bakr AlBagh­dadi is the ul­ti­mate de­ci­sion maker but his deputy is also pow­er­ful. They both con­sult a Shura Coun­cil which is com­prised of mil­i­tary, re­li­gious and other lead­ers who give ad­vice to Bagh­dadi on strat­egy and mil­i­tary plans. It prac­tices a strict version of Is­lam which con­sid­ers all those op­pos­ing it as in­fi­dels who should be killed.

The younger ji­hadi gen­er­a­tion looks up to Bagh­dadi as a pow­er­ful leader who will help es­tab­lish a greater Is­lamic State that will con­quer the world to spread Is­lam. It has drawn thou­sands of ji­hadists from across the world in­clud­ing Europe. But tighter se­cu­rity re­stric­tions im­posed by sev­eral Euro­pean coun­tries have pre­vented would-be ji­hadists from trav­el­ing and join­ing the group in Syria and Iraq.

To over­come this, the group has es­tab­lished con­tacts from its bases in the Mid­dle East with th­ese ji­hadists and en­cour­aged them to op­er­ate as “lone wolves” or in small cells to carry out in­di­vid­ual at­tacks in­side coun­tries where they live or work. Ac­cord­ing to one of the fight­ers, the dor­mant cells have no con­tact with each other but all an­swer to a spe­cial ap­pa­ra­tus in charge of “for­eign oper­a­tions”, from which they take or­ders to at­tack. He did not elab­o­rate.

Lit­tle is known about the head of this ap­pa­ra­tus, who the fighter said is a Jor­da­nian na­tional who works closely with the lead­er­ship in Syria and Iraq and trav­els be­tween the two coun­tries. He is only known by a nick­name. “He masterminds th­ese oper­a­tions, gets in touch with the fol­low­ers and supporters there, guide them in train­ing and oper­a­tions and tar­gets,” said a ji­hadi source close to the group. His ac­count could not be in­de­pen­dently ver­i­fied. The New York Times cited of­fi­cials on both sides of the At­lantic say­ing that the at­tack­ers in France had com­mu­ni­cated at some point be­fore­hand with known mem­bers of Is­lamic State in Syria. — Reuters

— AFP

This un­dated im­age from the Is­lamic State’s English-lan­guage mag­a­zine Dabiq shows Bel­gian na­tional Ab­del­hamid Abaaoud, who was iden­ti­fied by French au­thor­i­ties yes­ter­day as the pre­sumed mas­ter­mind of the terror at­tacks in Paris.

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