The killing of senior commanders will not overthrow ISIS, which, despite fierce internal conflicts, has managed to conduct a complex military and political campaign
Prior to his death after a U.S. Air Force attack in Iraq last week, Saud Mohsen Hassan had quite a number of aliases – Abu Mutazz, Abu Muslim al-Turkmani and Fadel al-Hayali – and also quite a number of roles. Under Saddam Hussein, he was a senior Iraqi intelligence officer. During the American occupation he was imprisoned in the Camp Bucca prison camp, where he met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). After his release from prison, Hassan joined the organization. In his last position, he was considered to be Baghdadi’s deputy and the person responsible for moving troops, weapons and ammunition between the various fronts in Iraq and Syria.
The direct hit on the car he was riding in can mostly be attributed to good intel. After a long period of random attacks, most of which hit ISIS facilities and the oil fields the organization controls, it seems the intelligence organizations of the U.S.-led coalition forces managed to penetrate ISIS’ operations and obtained trustworthy and precise information. It is also possible that the sums of money the government is offering in return for the leaders of the organization – $5 million, and another $10 million for Baghdadi himself – has helped.
The problem is that the killing of a senior commander such as Hassan does not shake up the organization, which is built on a flexible hierarchy. The regional commanders have broad powers and conduct their wars sometimes even without coordination with the leadership, which is comprised of an “advisory council” made up of between seven to 10 members, along with Baghdadi.
It seems the Western coalition does not have a monopoly on assassinating Islamic State leaders. Last week, ISIS members murdered Abu Ahmed al-Masri, a senior commander of the organization in the Mosul area, along with 10 of his troops. The official reason for the killings was the failure of the campaign against the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. But it’s possible the real reason was a conflict between Masri and Hassan’s forces over the distribution of money and weapons.
In May, I reported here on the violent confrontations within the organization concerning the appointments for various posts, with the divisions being based along ethnic lines. On one side were the supporters of Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, the Georgian commander better known as Abu Omar al-Shishani; on the other were Islamic State militants of Iraqi origin. It’s hard to know who is more senior today, Shishani – who only a few days ago was given responsibility for the Iraqi front, in order to prepare for a possible attack on Mosul – or Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, a Syrian who is considered the organization’s spokesman and is very close to Baghdadi. These are just two examples of the difficulty in mapping out the group’s internal organization.
Also in May, after U.S. Delta Force commandos raided the home of Abu Sayyaf – who was considered ISIS’ “finance minister” – U.S. intelligence received a large amount of material on Islamic State. In addition to the organization’s financial structure and holdings, it documented how ISIS moves funds and how decisions are made on the allocation of resources. It was also possible to learn more about the group’s organization, too. But three months have passed since then and, according to reports in the Arab media, Baghdadi has made changes throughout the system in an attempt to decentralize control over the channels for transferring funds and to camouflage their sources.
Among other things, Baghdadi has added another level of command, whose goal is to oversee the senior commanders and commanders in the field, in addition to strengthening the internal security units. These units sometimes conduct public executions of those suspected of passing on information or of planning to desert. Reports from Mosul tell of almost daily executions of ISIS fighters and civilian officials within its administration. These executions are not just to deter desertion, but are also meted out as punishment and deterrence for what they call improper or unprofessional conduct or negligence.
It’s impossible not to be impressed by the fact that, despite all the harsh internal conflicts, the organization has succeeded in preserving unity in its ranks and is able to simultaneously conduct military campaigns on two distant fronts, organize complex logistics, obtain sources of funding and maintain a civilian infrastructure in the areas it controls.
It’s important to add to these challenges the ethnic and personal composition of its fighters, who come from various cultures – such as Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Russia, Britain and France – as well as Arabs. This also requires the use of translators within combat units.
Intimidation is a tried and tested method for repressing civil revolt, as Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad both proved. But treating ISIS as an ordinary organization, one that can be brought down with the potential killing of commanders and leaders, is misguided. As long as there is no proper political alternative in Iraq, Syria or Libya that the citizens can identify with, Islamic State can continue to rule without fear of revolt.
(Photo: Aish.com / YouTube)
Despite advances in modern medicine, China is setting up roadblocks to cope with an outbreak of an ancient plague that once wiped out one-third of the world’s population and may have been one of the plagues that God used to strike Egypt.
Chinese officials installed temperature scanners at airports and checkpoints on main roads in an attempt to stop the spread of Bubonic plague as a fourth case was discovered in less than three weeks. A program to exterminate rats and fleas, which carry the disease, was also launched in Inner Mongolia where the disease seems to be originating.
Demonstrators gather in solidarity with anti-regime protests in Iran outside the Iranian Embassy in Helsinki, Finland. Photo: Reuters / Lehtikuva / Heikki Saukkomaa.
Four human rights lawyers currently imprisoned by the Iranian regime have been awarded with the annual prize of Europe’s most prestigious lawyers’ association.
The Iranian lawyers received the 2019 Human Rights Award from The Council of Bars and Law Societies Of Europe (CCBE) — a body that represents the bars and law societies of 45 countries and through them more than 1 million European lawyers.
The University of Bristol campus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
The University of Bristol in England has adopted “in full” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, the school’s Epigram independent student newspaper reported on Monday.
The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) and Bristol’s Jewish Society (J-Soc) welcomed the move, saying, “The University of Bristol has not been free of antisemitic incidents and the adoption of this definition is an important first step in helping the university tackle anti-Jewish racism. We now expect the university to use this definition in outstanding disciplinary cases.”
Pope Francis Meets Thailand’s Buddhist Patriarch in Golden Temple (screenshot)
Pope Francis topped off his three-day visit to Thailand last Saturday with a meeting with Thailand’s supreme Buddhist patriarch Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong at Bangkok’s Ratchabophit Temple. The meeting took place in front of a 150-year-old gold statue of Buddha. The Pope followed Buddhist custom by removing his shoes.
During the meeting, the Pope gave the Buddhist Patriarch the Declaration on Human Brotherhood. The Declaration s a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, last February in Abu Dhabi. The Pope met with the Imam last month to reinforce the Declaration.
An Israeli company says it is using space travel technology to help solve one of the most pressing problems down on Earth — the reliance on diesel fuel, a major source of pollution.
Israeli startup GenCell has developed an electric generator based on a hydrogen-energy technology used to power some of the most-famous space missions in history.
Oct 25, 2019 0People arrive at a polling station to vote in the federal election in Beauce, Quebec, Canada, Oct. 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Mathieu Belanger. A top Jewish advocacy group said on Friday it...
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The verse (Deuteronomy 6:4) Shema Yisrael – “Hear Oh Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is One” – is understood to (in Wikipedia’s words) “encapsulate the monotheistic essence of Judaism.” It’s understood to be a declaration not only there is one and only one God, but also that God’s oneness is all-inclusive. God includes every particle of existence is within Him. God is not just ruling over the world. God encompasses the world. Time and space and all of us are within God. Nothing stands outside of God’s Oneness, and God encompasses all existence equally
Watching events unfold in Israel is an experience in split-screen living. On the right side of the screen is the chaos outside our gates, in neighboring lands. And on the left side of the screen is the chaos inside.
On the left side of the screen on Tuesday, 15,000 Israelis gathered Tuesday evening outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to demand legal justice for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the face of what they view as an anti-democratic usurpation of political power by Israel’s legal fraternity.
It hard to believe that two weeks ago, Israel was on the brink of war. With the Palestinian Islamic Jihad firing nearly 500 missiles from Gaza into Israel within a 48-hour period, even Tel Aviv was put on alert and certain train routes were canceled. My mind immediately raced to a Christian group I was going to host for Shabbat in Jerusalem Israel – Pastor Leroy Armstrong of Proclaiming the Word Ministries.
Turkey’s little remarked on but ongoing mistreatment of historic churches is increasingly reflective of that nation’s growing sense of Islamic supremacism.
Before the Turks invaded it, Anatolia (present day Turkey) was an ancient Christian region; a large chunk of St. Paul’s epistles were sent to or dealt with its churches, including the seven of the Apocalypse. With the Turks’ conquest, colonization, and subsequent Turkification of Anatolia—hence why it’s now simply called “Turkey”—tens of thousands of churches were systematically desecrated and turned into victory mosques.
Sorek was the grandson of a Rabbi who survived the Holocaust, and was universally described as a kind, gentle soul. His funeral was interrupted by Palestinians shooting off fireworks celebrating his murder.
Two terrorists, including one affiliated with Hamas were arrested for the murder. And at the time, Hamas said in a statement, “We salute the hero fighters, sons of our people, who carried out the heroic operation which killed a soldier of the occupation army,” Hamas said in a statement. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad also hailed the killing as “heroic and bold.”