The Committee to Protect Journalists issues a statement expressing its concern for around 20 journalists believed to be held by ISIS:
The Committee to Protect Journalists is extremely concerned for all journalists, most of them Syrians, still held captive by the Al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State, which has repeatedly kidnapped, killed, and threatened journalists in the territories over which it holds sway.
CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney:
Local and foreign journalists already knew that Syria was the world’s most dangerous place to be a reporter before the beheading of James Foley brought that knowledge to the general public. The members of the Islamic State who murdered him use violence and intimidation to silence all independent reporting in the areas they control. Despite that, Syrian and foreign reporters like Jim Foley are prepared to put their lives at risk, in an attempt, in the words of another U.S. journalist killed in Syria, Marie Colvin, to ‘bear witness.’
The Syrian president al-Assad dies in Damascus of a heart attack. He is survived by four of his five children. His dynastic guidelines pass succession to his son, Bashar al-Assad.
Assad overwhelmingly wins another seven-year term of office, in a ballot in which he is the only candidate. Political opposition groups are banned unless they are attached the Baath Party. The interior ministry says he wins the backing of more than 97% of Syria’s 12 million voters. The ministry says the turnout is enormous, but gives no figures. Minister:
This great consensus shows the political maturity of Syria and the brilliance of our democracy.
During his official state visit to Tehran, Assad receives Iran’s highest national award in recognition of his support for the Palestinians, Lebanon, and his “rejection of global arrogance”. In a ceremony broadcast on Iranian state-run television, Ahmadinejad presents Assad with the Islamic Republic’s Medal of Honor. Ahmadinejad:
We are two governments and nations that are brothers. If it were not for Syria’s resistance against the Zionist regime [Israel] and its supporters, no country in our region would have remained safe from the Zionists’ aggression and there would be no sign of Palestinian resistance…Re-invigorating the front of resistance will not only persuade other countries and nations to join the front, but also pave the ground for the consolidation and stabilization of peace in the region…Syria is a benefactor to Muslims, Arabs and even to humanity.
Syria’s government passes a law to lift the country’s state of emergency as protests against the rule of Assad continue. The state security court is abolished while a law allowing peaceful protests is approved. The repeal of the emergency law is a key demand of protesters.
[The people should] refrain from taking part in all marches, demonstrations or sit-ins under any banner whatsoever. [If demonstrations are held] the laws in force in Syria will be applied in the interest of the safety of the people and the stability of the country.
Washington freezes the U.S. assets of Assad and six other senior officials for human rights abuses. The sanctions also bar American individuals and companies from dealing with the officials, which include the vice president, the prime minister, the interior minister, the defence minister, the head of military intelligence and the director of the political security directorate. US Treasury spokesperson:
The actions the administration has taken today send an unequivocal message to President Assad, the Syrian leadership, and regime insiders that they will be held accountable for the ongoing violence and repression in Syria…President al-Assad and his regime must immediately end the use of violence, answer the calls of the Syrian people for a more representative government, and embark upon the path of meaningful democratic reform,
Canada imposes sanctions on Syria in reaction to the ongoing government crackdown on pro-democracy activists. Foreign Affairs Minister Baird says four more senior officials of Assad’s regime are banned from travelling to Canada. In addition, the assets of the Commercial Bank of Syria and telecom company SyriaTel are frozen, and Canadians are prohibited from making transactions with these companies.
To isolate the Assad regime, Canada is taking measures to extend its existing sanctions against the regime and its backers. The Assad regime has lost all legitimacy by killing Syrian men, women and children just to stay in power. This campaign of terror must stop.
President Obama says the regime’s actions against pro-democracy protesters have cost it all legitimacy.
The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. His calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering his own people, We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.
UK Prime Minister Cameron, French president Sarkozy and German chancellor Merkel, as well as the EU also demand Assad immediately resign.
Our three countries believe that President Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people and who is responsible for the situation, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer claim to lead the country. We call on him to face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people and to step aside in the best interests of Syria and the unity of its people.
Syrian President Bashar Al Assad warns that foreign intervention in his country’s violent uprising could trigger an earthquake that would burn the whole region.
Any action against Syria will have greater consequences [on those who carry it out], greater than they can tolerate. First, because of Syria’s geopolitical location and second [because of] Syrian capabilities. They know part of it but they do not know the other parts and they will not be able to afford the results.
Assad says calls for his resignation by US and EU are not even worthy of a response, adding that he is appointed by the Syrian people, not by the West.
Assad issues a presidential decree ordering the establishment of diplomatic relations between Syria and Lebanon and announcing the opening of an embassy-level diplomatic mission in Beirut. Following the announcement, the Lebanese Foreign Minister says he will visit damascus to finalize the agreement
Tomorrow I will be in Damascus to meet with my colleague [Syrian Foreign] Minister Walid Moallem…to finalize the necessary measures to establish diplomatic relations between the two countries…My visit will be a crown to the excellent relations between the two countries,
Human Rights Watch says ISIS forced 153 boys as young as 14 in Kobani to watch videos of beheadings and crucifixions while listening to religious lectures, and flogged them with cables for not paying attention. Former prisoner:
Those who didn’t conform to the program were beaten. They beat us with a green hose or a thick cable with wire running through it. They also beat the soles of our feet.
An emergency session of 22 Arab League members in Cairo suspends Syria from the League until it implements the terms of a peace deal to stop government crackdowns on pro-democracy protests. The league also agree to impose economic and political sanctions and appeals to its member states to withdraw their ambassadors from Damascus. 18 countries back the decision while Yemen, Lebanon and Syria vote against. Iraq abstains. Qatari prime minister:
Syria is a dear country for all of us and it pains us to make this decision. We hope there will be a brave move from Syria to stop the violence and begin a real dialogue toward real reform…We were criticised for taking a long time but this was out of our concern for Syria. We needed to have a majority to approve those decisions. We are calling all Syrian opposition parties to a meeting at the Arab League headquarters to agree a unified vision for the transitional period.
However he says the vote does not signal military intervention. He also calls on the Syrian army to stop its involvement in the killing of civilians.
King Abdullah becomes the first Arab leader to openly say President Assad should stand down, urging Assad to begin talks on an orderly transition of power and warning there will be more of the same if whoever replaces him does not change the status quo.
If Bashar has the interest of his country [at heart] he would step down, but he would also create an ability to reach out and start a new phase of Syrian political life. That’s the only way I would see it work and I don’t think people are asking that question.
In an interview with Walters, Assad denies he is responsible for the violence engulfing his country and distances himself from the behavior of his armed forces.
They are not my forces. They are forces for the government. I don’t own them. I’m president. I don’t own the country. So they are not my forces…Every brute reaction was by an individual, not by an institution, that’s what you have to know, There is a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference. We don’t kill, It’s impossible for anyone in this state to give orders to kill. No government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person,
U.N. envoy Annan meets with Assad in Damascus during a mission trying to bring a halt to fighting and arrange talks between the two sides to end the country’s conflict. Assad tells Annan that any political dialogue is doomed to fail
as long as there are armed terrorist groups that work to spread anarchy and destabilize the country,
The regime blames terrorists acting out a foreign conspiracy for the uprising, not protesters seeking change. The opposition rejects dialogue, saying it is impossible to talk to Assad’s regime.
European Union states impose sanctions on Assad’s wife, Asma. Foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on also impose asset freezes and bans on travel to the EU on several other family members including Assad’s mother, and bans European companies from doing business with two additional Syrian entities. EU diplomat:
She is on the list. It’s the whole clan,
Because the Syrian first lady is a British national she cannot be prevented from entering the UK, but she cannot enter then other 26 EU states.
Cantlie and Oerlemans are kidnapped in Syria after crossing the Turkish border at Bab al Halwa. Their guide unintentionally leads them to a jihadi camp, where between 30-100 fighters from Bangladesh, Britain, Chechnya, and Pakistan are based. They are told that if they can prove they are journalists they will be let go, but are then accused of being spies. The group’s allegiance is not clear. Oerlemans:
They were definitely quite extreme in their religious beliefs. All day we were spoken to about the Koran and how they would bring Shariah law to Syria. I don’t think they were Al Qaeda; they seemed too amateurish for that. They said, ‘We’re not Al Qaeda, but Al Qaeda is down the road.’
Cantlie and Oerlemans attempt to escape on the second day of their captivity, but are shot by the jihadists. Cantlie:
I ended up running for my life, barefoot and handcuffed while British jihadists — young men with south London accents — shot to kill. They were aiming their Kalashnikovs at a British journalist, Londoner against Londoner in a rocky landscape that looked like the Scottish Highlands.
Cantlie is shot in the arm while Oerlemans is shot in the foot and thigh.
Cantlie is treated for his gunshot wounds by a British doctor using an NHS medical kit. He suffers nerve damage in his left arm.The man says he is 28 years old and has a wife and child in Britain. Cantlie:
When he told me he was an NHS doctor, I thought it was weird. This is a man who has taken an oath to save people and help them, and here he is walking around with a Kalashnikov and preaching sharia law. There are not any doctors who I know that do that.
Cantlie says the doctor is from south London and wants to treat trauma cases when he returns to Britain.
Cantlie and Oerlemans are freed by members of the Free Syrian Army. Oerlemans:
[The FSA] started dressing down everyone, [asking] why the hell we were being kept there, how long we had been kept there, why we were being treated in this way.
They are driven out of the camp while the FSA shoot into the air. Oerlemans on the group’s ideology:
Where the FSA seems to be fighting for democracy, these foreign fighters don’t want anything more than imposing sharia on Syria. Syrians are pretty moderate Muslims in general, but they want to put them under the boot of sharia law.
Sources in the Persian Gulf tell Reuters that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have set up a secret ‘nerve centre’ near the Turkish border with Syria to direct military aid and communications to Syrian rebels fighting the government. Doha source:
It’s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main co-ordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom. The Americans are very hands-off on this. U.S. intel are working through middlemen. Middlemen are controlling access to weapons and routes.
The centre is located in the southern Turkish city of Adana, about 100 km (60 miles) from the border, and was set up after Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud visited Turkey and requested it. The Turks liked the idea of having the base in Adana so that they could supervise its operations.
Cantlie says he is eager to return to Syria despite his abduction.
I am itching to get back out there. The only thing stopping me is my cameras, as I lost them out there and need to buy some more.
Cantlie decides to return to Syria to continue reporting:
This is what I do.
After being smuggled into northern Syria by rebel activists, Cantlie captures the situation in Idlib province first hand as President Assad’s forces continued to try and crush the rebels.
60 Minutes reports on an August 2103 Sarin nerve gas attack in Damascus, Syria. U.S. intelligence estimates that is kills 1,429 civilians, including 426 children.
Nobody knew what was going on. People were just praying for God to have mercy on them. Sir, I’ve seen things you wouldn’t even dream about in your worst nightmares
It just took seconds before I lost my ability to breathe. I felt like my chest was set on fire. My eyes were burning like hell. I wasn’t able even to scream or to do anything. So I started to beat my chest really hard. It was so painful. It felt like somebody was tearing up my chest with a knife made of fire.
Six of Syria’s main rebel factions ask ISIS to withdraw from the town of Azaz, near the Turkish border, which it captured several days earlier from Free Syrian Army rebels. The statement asks “our brothers in ISIL to withdraw their troops and vehicles to their main headquarters immediately” and implement an “immediate ceasefire” in the area. Signed by the Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid and Jaysh al-Islam factions, and the smaller Suqur al-Sham, Furqan Brigades and Liwa al-Haq groups, it comes hours after the group clashes with the mainstream Northern Front Alliance and sends fighters towards a border post. ISIS and the Northern Front are asked to…
…resort immediately to the Islamic court, which will remain in session in Aleppo for 48 hours
ISIS fighters seize the northern town of Azaz near the Turkish border from Free Syrian Army forces, causing confusion among the ranks of the opposition. FSA spokesman Loay al-Mikdad says the group took the town from Assad regime forces in self-defence and questions why ISIS are storming an area that is already ‘liberated’:
They said they came to defend the Syrian people. Now they have turned their guns away from fighting the regime to fighting the Syrian people.
Kassig is captured by ISIS while on his way to Deir Ezzor.
The UN’s human rights chief says an inquiry has produced evidence that war crimes are authorised in Syria at the highest level, including by President Assad. Commissioner Pillay says her office holds a list of others implicated by the inquiry. Pillay:
[The enquiry has produced] massive evidence… [of] very serious crimes, war crimes, crimes against humanity. The scale of viciousness of the abuses being perpetrated by elements on both sides almost defies belief. [The evidence indicates responsibility] at the highest level of government, including the head of state
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Mekdad is dismissive of Pillay’s remarks.
She has been talking nonsense for a long time and we don’t listen to her.
Volunteers from the Greater Manchester area join an aid convoy of 20 former NHS ambulances to a hospital in Idlib in northwestern Syria. The convoy leaves Oakley Avenue in Great Lever, Bolton, to make the 4,000-mile journey to deliver the ambulances loaded with medical equipment that includes defibrillators, stethoscopes and oxygen content. Volunteer Kasim Jameel, from Farnworth, organised the convoy along with eight other volunteers from Bolton and the UK Arab Society. The group includes taxi driver Alan Henning, from Eccles in Greater Manchester. The trip is made in memory of Abbas Khan, the UK orthopedic surgeon who was arrested by Abbas security forces and died in custody earlier in December. The group carry signs saying ‘RIP Abbas Khan’ and one saying ‘Syria is calling we will answer’.
Henning is abducted 30 minutes after the aid convoy he is traveling with crosses the border from Turkey into Syria, a journey of only four miles. He had insisted on joining the convoy of former NHS ambulances delivering defibrillators, stethoscope sand oxygen to a hospital in Idlib instead of remaining at home in Eccles, Greater Manchester, with his wife and two children. Convoy organiser Kasim Jameel, a taxi driver from Bolton:
Alan is a man who is full of compassion and we are just praying to Allah that he is released safe and sound. We are liaising with the authorities and we do not want to say anything which might put him in any further jeopardy or which will inflame the situation. I could tell a lot of stories about the good that Alan has done and about how, as a non Muslim, he has helped Muslims who have suffered in the conflict. He is motivated to help others – not just by helping the convoy but by loads of other things as well. He is the nicest of nice guys who has done so much to help other people. He is just a normal bloke, an everyday taxi driver who wanted to do good. We are thinking about him all the time and praying that he will be allowed home to his family.
Rival opposition factions strike back at ISIS after its moves to seize territory they have claimed from regime forces in Aleppo and Idlib provinces. Raqqa-based Sham News Network media activist Abu Bakr:
The rebels have achieved tremendous progress against ISIS in all the points of conflict, liberating more than 80% of the Idlib countryside and 65% of Aleppo and its countryside
Mohammad Hassano, an activist in the town of Azaz:
People just couldn’t take it anymore, after all the kidnapping and arrests and attacks against the [Free Syrian Army]. People were very angry at them, but there was hesitation in fighting them because of the priority of fighting the regime.
ISIS calls on its fighters to destroy rival opposition groups in an audio message from spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani:
Crush them totally and kill the conspiracy at birth
A warning to the rebels:
None of you will remain, and we will make of you an example to all those who think of following the same path
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that ISIS’s headquarters in Aleppo have been overtaken by rival opposition:
Fighters from several Islamist rebel brigades took control of the children’s hospital in the Qadi Askar district, which is the headquarters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the city.
The extremist group has effectively abandoned the area:
ISIL withdrew from the Inzarat area after clashes with fighters from rebel… brigades, and the post office building was taken over by Islamist rebel fighters … There are hardly any ISIL members left in the city of Aleppo.
A senior Iraqi intelligence official says senior ISIS leader Haji Bakr has been assassinated in a killing related to the dispute between ISIS and other opposition groups. Haji Bakr’s real name was Sameer Abid Mohammed Al-Halefawi, and he is reported to have served as an air-defense officer in Saddam Hussein’s army before joining Al Qaeda in Iraq after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
Syrian Al Qaeda offshoot the Al-Nusra Front claims a suicide bombing in Lebanon. The car bomb targeting an army post in Hezbollah-controlled area kills two Lebanese soldiers and a civilian and leaves 17 wounded. Prime Minister Tammam Salam, the government’s highest-ranking Sunni official says the attack constitutes an act of terrorism:
The attack on the military establishment exceeds a normal crime. We urge everybody to unite
Rival opposition groups including the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front expel ISIS from the province of Deir Ezzor. The oil-producing province is also a key conduit for weapons across the Iraqi border. The Al-Nusra Front, which has largely stayed out of conflicts with ISIS, joined about 10 other militant groups to expel the extremist faction.
Media report that Sharrouf was able to flee to Syria via Malaysia in January by skirting a travel ban placed on him. He boarded a flight at Sydney airport using his brother’s passport in place of his own, which was confiscated by authorities. New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell:
I have to say I think that immigration and the federal police and customs have been doing a magnificent job. But I look to see what caused what appears to have been a fairly major breakdown.
A cousin of Assad is killed fighting militants along the Turkish border. Hilal al-Assad founded the National Defence Army of pro-government civilians fighting alongside the Syrian army, and is the head of the group. Rebel faction Jaish al-Islam issues a statement claiming responsibility for the killing:
The first rocket was fired around 7:15pm, followed by another five minutes later. The rockets targeted a house where Hilal was holding a meeting with other members of the National Defence Army.
Interpol is searching for two teenage girls from Austria who are believed to have run away from their homes in Vienna to join ISIS. Samra Kesinovic, 16, and Sabina Selimovic, 15, have been missing since April 10. Photos on their Facebook pages apparently show them brandishing Kalashnikov rifles – in some cases surrounded by armed men. Some of the pictures have been circulating online for years, and their families believe that those pictures, and social media posts apparently by the girls, are fake. However, Austrian officials believe that the girls are located in a training camp, are already married, and are living in the homes of their new husbands. Facebook postings apparently from the two girls say that they planned to marry so that they could become ‘holy warriors’ and indicate that they are seeking martyrdom:
Death is our goal.
An American detonates a suicide bomb in Syria on behalf of al-Nusra Front, the Syrian arm of Al Qaeda, driving a truck laden with 16 tons of explosives into a restaurant patronized by government troops in the northwestern city of Idlib. The group tweets a statement confirming the bombing, referring to him by his nom de guerre, ‘the American father of the kitten’:
Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki performed a martrydom operation in Idlib, Jabal Al-Arba’een. May Allah accept him.
The U.S. government identifies him as Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha, of Florida.
Paris public prosecutor François Molins says the man arrested as the Brussels Jewish Museum shooting suspect, French national Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, trained in Syria:
During his last stay in jail he was noticed for extremist [Islamist] proselytism. On December 31, 2012, three weeks after he was freed, he travelled to Syria. He spent over a year in Syria, where he seems to have joined the ranks of combatant groups, jihadist terrorist groups.
Nemmouche is being questioned by the DGSI, which can hold him for up to 96 hours or 144 hours if investigators feel he poses an imminent terrorist threat.
ISIS publishes the second edition of Islamic State News magazine via its affiliate, Al-Hayat Media Centre. The issue leads with a photo feature on trade apparently flourishing in the Aleppo (Halab) market under ISIS control, with pictures of fresh fruit, cured meat, and flowers for sale. It includes photos of the implementation of a hadd – religious prohibition – against alcohol, and a graphic execution of an Assad shabeeh (loyalist) in Aleppo. Also shown are bloodsoaked bodies in the aftermath of what it says is fighting in Ar-Rawiyah village in Raqa area against the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and People’s Protection Units (YPG), an armed group from Syrian Kurdistan. The aftermath is shown of what ISIS says are victories in Malahimah, Anbar province, and other parts of the country. It includes photos apparently showing the conversion of captured opposition fighters in Anbar, and the execution of those who refuse to ‘repent.’ A feature on the group’s operation to retake al-Khair, as the group refers to Deir Ezzor province:
Allah facilitated for his mujahid slaves the liberation of two towns, as-Sabhah and al-Bareehah, so that they are now overlooking one of the biggest strongholds of the Sahwat [Sunni tribes]: the town of al-Busayrah where battles are taking place now. Allah also bestowed upon us much war booty in the battle of as-Sabhah, which included: a tank, a BMB, three sniper guns, a 12.5mm cannon, a 14.5mm dual-barrel anti-aircraft [gun], a number of Kalashnikov rifles, a car full of ammo, and a number of other cars.
On a visit to Lebanon, Secretary of State Kerry declares the Syrian election meaningless and says it will have no impact on U.S. policy. Kerry says the United States continues to support a political solution to the Syrian crisis and announces a contribution of $290 million in humanitarian aid.
The elections are non-elections. A great big zero. Nothing has changed between the day before the election and after.
Assad wins in presidential poll securing 88.7% of the vote. The victory gives Assad a third seven-year term in office. Parliament speaker:
I declare the victory of Dr Bashar Hafez al-Assad as president of the Syrian Arab Republic with an absolute majority of the votes cast in the election.
Al-Hayat Media Center publishes the third edition of Islamic State News. The issue leads with the group’s advance into Iraq. Feature header:
The Islamic State humiliates Maliki’s army with brazen attack on Mosul
It states that Iraqi President Maliki’s ‘tyrannical strength is no match for pious believers,’ and urges readers to join the cause:
Join the ranks, oh brothers!
It celebrates the group’s seizure of the Koniko gas field in Deir Ezzor with a photo feature showing closeups of a black-clad fighter firing an assault rifle. Also shown are executions in the province of three men – one is said to be an Assad sympathizer, and a second is said to have enlisted in the Nusayri (Alawite) army, an apparent reference to the regime’s armed forces, after ISIS declared its jihad in the area. Details are not given of the third man the group says it executed. Two men said to have broken the hadd – Islamic prohibition – against stealing receive an unspecified punishment that it says is ‘carried out under the supervision of trained doctors.’ The final section of the magazine focuses on humanitarian and religious activities in Homs and Diyala, including handing out fliers and improving security for shepherds and farmers.
ISIS has over $2 billion in the bank, more than some small countries such as Tonga and the Marshall Islands, according to information captured on a batch of 160 flash disks. The majority of the wealth comes from seizure of assets by the group in its takeover of Mosul. A senior intelligence official:
By the end of the week, we soon realised that we had to do some accounting for them. Before Mosul, their total cash and assets were $875 million. Afterwards, with the money they robbed from banks and the value of the military supplies they looted, they could add another $1.5 billion to that
It also has income from oilfields in northeastern Syria captured in 2012, smuggling of raw materials, and looting of the Assad administration’s crumbling government assets, but the extra cash allows the group to operate as a de facto caliphate in its own right:
They had taken $36m from al-Nabuk alone [an area in the Qalamoun mountains west of Damascus]. The antiquities there are up to 8,000 years old. Before this, the western officials had been asking us where they had gotten some of their money from, $50,000 here, or $20,000 there. It was peanuts. Now they know and we know. They had done this all themselves. There was no state actor at all behind them, which we had long known. They don’t need one.
ISIS publishes an Arabic-language Android app titled ‘Dawn of Glad Tidings’ or ‘Dawn.’ After users provide personal information, the app tweets content created by ISIS including hashtags, images and links over the user’s account. With hundreds of users, the app reaches an all-time high of 40,000 tweets in a day during ISIS’s invasion of Mosul. This places an image of an armed fighter gazing at the ISIS flag flying over Mosul with the caption ‘We are coming, Baghdad,’ near the top of image searches for the Iraqi capital city.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says that about 150 Australians are fighting in Syria:
In Syria, it seems that over a period of time they have moved from supporting more moderate opposition groups to the more extreme, and that includes this brutal extremist group ISIS
Radicalized fighters could pose a domestic threat:
We are concerned that Australians are working with them [ISIS], becoming radicalized, learning the terrorist trade, and if they come back to Australia, of course it poses a security threat. I’ve canceled a number of passports on the advice of intelligence agencies.
ISIS propaganda wing Al-Hayat Media Center publishes the fourth edition of the Islamic State magazine (pdf here). Expanded to eight pages from six and retitled IS Report, the publication leads with a feature titled ‘Smashing The Borders of the Rebels’ and a cover photo showing militants freely crossing the Syria-Iraq border. The subtitle – ‘The Battle of Asadullah Al-Bilawi’ – is an apparent reference to the group’s operation to take control of Mosul, named after a now-deceased ISIS commander. The cover story focuses on in-depth analysis of the historical background of regional geopolitics, including the Sykes-Picot agreement which determined the borders of modern-day Iraq and Syria. It says the group took control of the border region between Nineveh province in Iraq and al-Barakah province in Syria, demolishing ‘artificial barriers’ set up as ‘crusader partitions’ by the Western powers in an effort to restore the Islamic caliphate:
Last week, the mujahidin of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham reached yet another signicant milestone on the path to restoring the prophetic khilafah.
It says it executed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers in the battle for Mosul, and includes a photo feature apparently showing the men being marched to their deaths.
ISIS declares itself a Caliphate, calling on other factions to pledge allegiance in a statement posted on jihadist websites. The group says that it has renamed itself Islamic State to reflect its new status. Spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani declares ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi the head of the Islamic world:
He is the imam and khalifah (Caliph) for the Muslims everywhere.