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19 Aug, 2014
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‘Thank you, America’

Kurdish soldiers thank America for its assistance is driving ISIS militants from the Mosul Dam. Kurdish intelligence chief Masrour Barzani, the son of the president of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan, describes the dam as a “nuclear weapon,” and he says that retaking the dam prevented a calamity. Many feared ISIS would blow the dam up, sending a tsunami of water throughout the region.

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‘We will drown all of you in blood’

ISIS threatens to attack US targets ‘in any place’ as revenge for the American air strikes against them in Iraq. The group posts a video showing a blood-spattered American flag  next to a jihadist flag with the message in English:

We will drown all of you in blood.

The message is accompanied by photographs of an American who was beheaded during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Islamic State message to Americans: "We will drown all of you in blood"

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Reacts to James Foley’s murder

Obama tells reporters on Martha’s Vineyard that “the entire world is appalled” by Foley’s murder:

No just God would stand for what they did yesterday or every single day,” he said. “A group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century…They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. There has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it doesn’t spread.

His full remarks can be seen here

20 Aug, 2014
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‘More UK Muslims join ISIS than army’

isis-video-stillKhalid Mahmood, the MP for Perry Barr in Birmingham, estimates that there are twice as many UK Muslims fighting for ISIS as there are in the army. He says at least 1,500 young British Muslims have been recruited by extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria in the last three years, and recruitment has increased since the start of the conflict:

If you look across the whole of the country, and the various communities involved, 500 going over each year would be a conservative estimate.

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Survivor: ISIS massacred villagers

ISIS massacres 80 men from a Yazidi village and kidnaps the women and girls after its sheik refuses to convert to Islam. Survivor Khalof Khodede, a survivor:

Islamic State kidnapped about 400 to 600 people in our village and the majority of those people are women and children. They killed most of the men

The militants initially do not plan on the killings:

First they wanted us all to convert to Islam and we said yes just to save our lives. We were all very afraid. Then our sheikh said ‘I won’t convert to Islam’. And then they gathered us inside the village school,’ he said.

After seizing gold and jewelry, the militants take the men are taken to the first floor of the school and the women to the second. They are loaded onto minibuses in groups of 10 to 20 and told they are being taken to the ancestral Yazidi homeland of Sinjar, but the militants stop the vehicles and open fire. Khodede is among few survivors:

They started shooting at us randomly. They had heavy guns like machine guns. I was hit in my leg and on my pelvis.

22 Aug, 2014
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‘May have crossed Mexico border’

Texas Gov. Perry (R) says ISIS may have taken advantage of chaos at the border with Mexico to send operatives across into the U.S. In a speech at the Heritage Foundation:

There’s the obvious great concern that because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across, that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be [crossing the border]— and I think there is a very real possibility that they may have already used that.

He says there is no clear evidence that ISIS has crossed the border but that amid growing criminal activity at the demarcation line, disregarding the possibility is risky:

We have no clear evidence of that but your common sense tells you when we’ve seen the number of criminal activities that have occurred — and I’m talking about the assaults, the rapes, the murders — by individuals who have come into this country illegally over the last five years, the idea that they would not be looking at [the border] … is not a good place to be.

24 Aug, 2014
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‘Close’ to identifying Foley’s killer

Interview

British Ambassador to the U.S. Sir Peter Westmacott tells CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley that authorities are ‘close’ to identifying the ISIS militant who killed Global Post journalist James Foley in a videotaped beheading:

[…] We’re putting out a great deal of resource into identifying this person. I think we’re not far away from that. We’re putting a lot into it. And there are some very sophisticated technologies, voice identification and so on, which people can use to check who these people are. But, of course, the problem goes beyond one horrendous criminal, if you like […]  I do know from my colleagues at home that we are close. 

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UK not considering airstrikes

British Ambassador to the U.S. Sir Peter Westmacott tells CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley his government is not currently considering adding to U.S. air power in Syria. On cooperation with the U.S.:

…we are in this together, and we need a joint operation to really push back against this barbaric behavior. We mean what we say on that.

However when questioned by Crowley on whether this could include British airstrikes:

It is not now contemplated.

25 Aug, 2014
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Iraqi PM: ‘International effort needed’

Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi calls for an international war against ISIS during a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. A statement from Abadi’s office after the talks:

Abadi pointed to the presence of many dangers posed in the region as a result of the existence of the terrorist gang Islamic State which requires regional and international efforts to exterminate this terrorist organization.

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Iran minister pledges solidarity with Iraq

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says his country appreciates efforts by Iraq to reach out to Sunnis and ethnic Kurds to improve regional security. His comments come after a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Haider al-Abadi, who calls for an international effort against the ISIS insurgency. At a news conference:

We feel very comfortable about the democratic process in Iraq which has reached to a logical result through selecting prime minister-designate Haider al-Abadi to form an inclusive government that comprises all Iraqi sects. The Islamic Republic of Iran will keep standing by your side. Iran backs the unity of Iraq and the stabilizing of security and considers that as a priority in its foreign policy.

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‘Fears of imminent massacre’

There are fears a massacre is imminent of around 13,000 Shiite Turkmen in the northern town of Amerli held under siege by ISIS since June 15,  the UN says. The population includes 10,000 women and children who are living in horrendous conditions with severe food and water shortages and no medical services. UN Human Rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay:

The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, and the international community must take all necessary measures and spare no effort to protect members of ethnic and religious communities, who are particularly vulnerable, and to secure their return to their places of origin in safety and dignity.

26 Aug, 2014
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‘Massacred 700 Turkmen’

The UN says ISIS has massacred about 700 Shiite Turkmen. The victims include ‘women, children and old people,’ UNICEF Iraq chief Marzio Babille says. The killings are reported to have been carried out in the northern Iraqi village of Beshir between July 11 and 12.

27 Aug, 2014
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‘Interventionism created ISIS’

Paul criticizes Clinton’s foreign policy in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, saying that interventionism led to the rise of ISIS:

To interventionists like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, we would caution that arming the Islamic rebels in Syria created a haven for the Islamic State. We are lucky Mrs. Clinton didn’t get her way and the Obama administration did not bring about regime change in Syria. That new regime might well be ISIS.

He adds:

[…] Those who say we should have done more to arm the Syrian rebel groups have it backward. This is not to say the U.S. should ally with Assad. But we should recognize how regime change in Syria could have helped and emboldened the Islamic State, and recognize that those now calling for war against ISIS are still calling for arms to factions allied with ISIS in the Syrian civil war.

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Foreign women perform ‘sexual jihad’

Malaysian, Australian and British women are traveling to the Middle East to perform jihad al-nikah to boost the morale of ISIS fighters. Unnamed Malaysian intelligence official:

These women are believed to have offered themselves in sexual comfort roles to ISIS fighters who are attempting to establish Islamic rule in the Middle East. This concept may seem controversial but it has arisen as certain Muslim women here are showing sympathy for the ISIS struggle.

The official says a Malaysian woman in her 30s went to Turkey in December and met up with middlemen to complete the journey to Syria via land routes, while a Malaysian woman in her 40s linked up with the militants in April. Intelligence exchanged with other countries revealed that Sunni Muslim women from Australia and the United Kingdom have also joined up with ISIS.

28 Aug, 2014
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‘We don’t have a strategy yet’

Obama says that his administration hasn’t yet developed a strategy to combat ISIS, as speculation mounts that the U.S. will bomb ISIS in Syria. To reporters:

I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We don’t have a strategy yet. I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are.

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‘Iraqis responsible for their own security’

Obama says that any security gains made by the U.S. against groups like ISIS will be temporary, and that lasting improvements to the situation will need to be domestic:

The idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat Isis, I think, is unrealistic. We can rout Isis on the ground and keep a lid on things temporarily, but then as soon as we leave, the same problems come back again. We’ve got to make sure Iraqis understand that in the end they are responsible for their own security.

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Vatican: Pope threat ‘nothing serious’

The Vatican downplays the possibility of ISIS posing a threat to the Pope, following a report by Il Tempo newspaper that the pontiff is being targeted by the militant group as the world’s most prominent Christian leader. A spokesman:

There is nothing serious to this. There is no particular concern in the Vatican.

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Child soldier ‘witnessed atrocities’

A former ISIS child soldier now located in Turkey tells CNN he attended children’s training camps from the age of 13:

My friends and I were studying at the mosque, and they taught us that we should enrol in jihad with the [Islamic State] … I wanted to go, but my father did not allow me to.

He is allowed to go after the group threaten to behead his father for preventing him:

For 30 days we woke up and jogged, had breakfast, then learned the Quran and the Hadith of the Prophet. Then we took courses on weapons, Kalashnikovs and other light military stuff.

The children are forced to witness atrocities:

They used to bring young [kids] to the camp to lash them,” Mohammed says. “When we go to the mosque, they order us to come the next day at a specific time and place to [watch] heads cut off, lashings or stonings.” “We saw a young man who did not fast for Ramadan, so they crucified him for three days, and we saw a woman being stoned [to death] because she committed adultery.

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‘Oilfields earn millions a day’

Luay al-Khateeb, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar, estimates ISIS is earning $2 million a day in oil revenues in Iraq and much more in Syria. The Iraqi fields are only producing half of the 80,000 barrels a day they are rated at, black-market crude is selling at $25-$60 a barrel:

From Syria they could be making double or even triple that.

Estimating the Syrian revenues is difficult since most of the oil is sold to the Bashar al-Assad government, which doesn’t disclose oil use figures, but the regime’s struggle means consumption is likely very high:

It’s a war of survival for the Syrian regime and they have no choice but to buy the oil — even though they know the money is going into ISIS hands.

29 Aug, 2014
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‘It would be an honor to join ISIS’

Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people in the 2009 Fort Hood shootings, sends a letter to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi asking to be made a ‘citizen soldier’ of the self-described caliphate:

I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State … It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don’t compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers.

30 Aug, 2014
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‘Could reach America in two months’

King Abdullah says terrorists could reach America within months if left unchecked:

If neglected, I am certain that after a month they will reach Europe and, after another month, America. Terror knows no borders and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East.

He adds that ISIS’s beliefs are against Islam and must be opposed:

I do ask you to transmit this message to your leaders: Fight terrorism with force, reason and speed. These terrorists do not know the name of humanity, and you have witnessed them severing heads and giving them to children to walk with in the street.

31 Aug, 2014
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‘Death before capture’

Shiite Turkmen in Amerli town say they will choose death over capture by ISIS, which considers them apostates. A government employee named Mehdi:

In every three to four houses we have dug graves. If the Islamic State storms our town everyone will be killing their wives and children and they will bury them.

He says the minority’s wives agree to death rather than being used as spoils of war, as ISIS have done with Yazidi minority women:

They say ‘we don’t want to end up in the hands of the Islamic State, being enslaved like those in Sinjar mountain….We don’t want the Islamic State to lay their hands on us.’

Beauty salon owner Fatima Qassim, who has been airlifted to Baghdad:

All the women will kill themselves – either shoot themselves or use kerosene and burn themselves to death.

She says her brother is fighting to defend the town and has remained behind with his wife and six children.

He put eight bullets in his rifle and he said if ISIS enters the town then I will kill my children one by one and then I will kill my wife and myself.

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‘ISIS wants Lebanon’

Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, the deputy head of Hezbollah’s executive council, says ignoring the threat of ISIS could allow the group to seize Lebanon:

The terrorist threat on Lebanon is actual, real and continuous. And whoever doubts or underestimates [this threat] is either ignorant or negligent, and he harms the high national interest of Lebanon … ISIS’s decision has been announced. Their pretended slogan is to create the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, which includes Lebanon.

He proposes a “tripartite” force to protect the country consisting of the military, the public and the “resistance”:

Whoever denies Hezbollah’s role in protecting [Lebanon is] oblivious to the truth.

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Amerli siege ‘broken’

Iraqi Shiite fighters say they have broken the ISIS siege of the town of Amerli, where 15,000 ethnic Shiite Turkmen are trapped with dwindling food and water and under threat of massacre. Lieutenant General Qassem Atta:

Our forces entered Amerli and broke the siege

Iraqi air and ground forces, Shiite militiamen and Kurdish peshmerga are supported by U.S. airstrikes on ISIS targets as well as international airdrops of weapons and humanitarian supplies, in what is described as the first major success for the federal government in the conflict.

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‘They will attack us whenever they can’

King, who sits on the House Homeland Security and Intelligence Committee, issues a warning that the ISIS will target the U.S. at any opportunity:

Al Qaeda didn’t need a grievance to attack us on 9/11. These groups, they don’t need any excuse. They will attack us whenever they can. I believe strongly that ISIS does plan on attacking the United States.

1 Sep, 2014
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‘Seeks Western attack’

Rogers warns that ISIS wants an attack on the west to raise its profile:

Isis would like to have a Western-style attack to continue this notion that they are the leading jihadist group in the world

A major aspect of the threat to the U.S. is returning ISIS-trained American fighters, and they should be charged under laws prohibiting terror support:

I’m very concerned because we don’t know every single person that has an American passport that has gone and trained and learned how to fight

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‘Mosul leaflet drop’

American planes drop leaflets ‘bearing the signature of the Iraqi defence ministry’ over Mosul, apparently as a prelude to bombing ISIS’s headquarters in the city. A source:

The American planes dropped leaflets this evening on the city of Mosul, asking the residents to evacuate their homes, which are close to the headquarters of ISIS, and to stay away from the gatherings of its elements

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‘Threat to German security’

Merkel says in a speech to the Bundestag lower house that ISIS now controls an area in Iraq and Syria that is half the size of Germany:

The far-reaching detribalization of an entire region affects Germany and Europe … When terrorists take control of a vast territory to give themselves and other fanatics a base for their acts of terror, then the danger rises for us, then our security interests are affected

2 Sep, 2014
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‘Cluster munitions’

Human Rights Watch cites ‘credible evidence’ that ISIS has used cluster munitions in at least one location in northern Syria in recent weeks. Local Kurdish officials and photographic evidence show the extremist group used cluster munitions on July 12 and August 14 during fighting around the town of Ayn al-Arab – known as Kobani in Kurdish – in Aleppo governorate near the northern border with Turkey. A statement:

The use of cluster munitions by non-state actors such as the Islamic State shows the urgent need for Syria and all nations that have not yet done so to join the ban on cluster munitions and destroy their stockpiles

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‘Bring the battlefield home’

A Scottish-born girl is reported to have have moved to Syria and has disseminated jihadi messages via Twitter. The ‘@Umm Layth_’ Twitter account believed to be operated by is currently suspended. A tweet in June apparently supporting the Lee Rigby murder, Boston Marathon bombing and Fort Hood, Tx., shootings:

Follow the examples of your brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston. If you cannot make it to the battlefield, then bring the battlefield to yourself.

Police spokesman:

A 19-year-old female from Scotland was reported missing to us by her family in November 2013. Inquiries are ongoing in relation to her whereabouts and we are supporting her family.

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Starts carrying mattress

After seeking guidance from visual arts professor Kessler over the summer, Sulkowicz starts carrying her mattress wherever she goes on Campus.

Rape can happen anywhere. I was raped in my own dorm bed, and since then that’s become fraught for me. And I feel like I carry the weight of what happened there with me everywhere…For my senior thesis I will be doing a piece called ‘Mattress Performance’ or “Carry that Weight’ where I will be carrying this dorm room mattress everywhere I go for as long as I attend the same school as my rapist.

Kessler:

Carrying around your university bed—which was also the site of your rape—is an amazingly significant and poignant and powerful symbol. I felt I had something to offer in terms of how artists have done endurance performance pieces in the past, and the connection between activism and performance…The best art comes from a very personal place and from personal commitment and belief—otherwise you’re just doing an assignment…As a physical metaphor, the piece has tremendous power.

Emma Sulkowicz: "Carry That Weight"

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‘Ethnic cleansing’

Amnesty International says ISIS is carrying out ‘a wave’ of ethnic cleansing in Iraq. A statement says the group have:

…launched a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq, carrying out war crimes, including mass summary killings and abductions, against ethnic and religious minorities.

It says several mass killings took place in Sinjar in August:

Two of the deadliest incidents took place when IS fighters raided the villages of Qiniyeh on 3 August and Kocho on 15 August. The number of those killed in these villages alone runs into the hundreds. Groups of men and boys including children as young as 12 from both villages were seized by IS militants, taken away and shot.

Senior Crisis Advisor Donatella Rovera:

Instead of aggravating the fighting by either turning a blind eye to sectarian militias or arming Shi’a militias against the Islamic State as the authorities have done so far, Iraq’s government should focus on protecting all civilians regardless of their ethnicity or religion.  The people of northern Iraq deserve to live free from persecution without fearing for their lives at every turn. Those ordering, carrying out, or assisting in these war crimes must be apprehended and brought to justice.

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‘We will send ISIS to death’

Outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki promises to turn the country into a ‘grave’ for ISIS. During an unannounced visit to the northern Shiite Turkmen town of Amerli, he orders promotions and awards for those who fought in the weekend battle to successfully break an ISIS siege:

I salute you for your steadfastness and patience against those beasts and killers … All Iraq will be a grave for those infidels, and we will send all the [ISIS] gang to death

3 Sep, 2014
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US will ‘degrade and destroy’ ISIS militants

At a news conference in Estonia, Obama promises to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, the group responsible for beheading a second America journalist, Steven Sotloff.

We will not be intimidated. Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.

He also vows that the U.S. would continue to lead the battle against “the kind of barbaric and empty vision that [ISIS] represents.”

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Biden warns ISIS

Biden says the U.S. is grieving the deaths of Foley and Sotloff and will bring ISIS to justice:

They should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice. Because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside.

He says America will not be intimidated by brutal acts like the beheading by ISIS of the two journalists:

We came back after 9/11. We dusted ourselves off and we made sure that Osama bin Laden would never, ever again threaten the American people. We came back after Boston strong, blaming no one but resolving to be certain that this didn’t happen again. As a nation, we’re united, and when people harm Americans, we don’t retreat. We don’t forget.

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Cold threatens Iraq refugees

The UN High Commission on Refugees says the upcoming winter threatens to worsen conditions for around half a million displaced Iraqis receiving UN aid in August. A statement:

Time is now of the essence in providing support to Iraq’s displaced. Winter is approaching fast, with snow, rain and muddy conditions. In less than three months from now, daily temperatures will average less than ten degrees Celsius, and the rains will begin.

The agency says it has provided more than 100,000 mattresses, 10,000 family tents, and 40,000 jerry cans for water as well as tens of thousands of other essential items for some of the estimated 850,000 people who have fled into the northern Kurdistan region. It will send another 10 aid flights into Erbil over the next few days to supply 40,000 blankets, 10,000 kitchen sets, and almost 18,000 plastic tarpaulins. However the accommodation situation remains acute and the agency needs extra financial support:

UNHCR, as a part of the UN humanitarian relief effort, will be launching an appeal for an additional US$350 million to help meet these needs. The main focus will be on providing life-saving protection services and assistance to respond to the most urgent basic needs of displaced Iraqis, including winterization support.

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House lawmakers urge Syria strikes

The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s senior members urge Obama to authorize strikes against ISIS in Syria. Panel chairman Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the committee’s ranking member:

Target them and target the terrorist training camp where they’re bringing thousands of fighters from around the world, putting them through training over a period of weeks to teach them how to conduct terrorist activities. Those camps and the munitions should be targeted as well.

4 Sep, 2014
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‘Not as dangerous as Al Qaeda’

The top U.S. counterterror official says ISIS presents a threat to U.S. security but is not as grave a threat as Al Qaeda. National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen says at a Brookings Institute event that the group could inspire a lone wolf attack by a sympathizer in the U.S.:

[ISIS] poses a direct and significant threat to us [and] has the potential to use its safe haven to plan and coordinate attacks in Europe and the United States

But it is not as capable of carrying out a large-scale attack as al Qaeda was before 9/11:

ISIL is not al Qaeda pre 9/11. We are not what we were pre 9/11. We are so much better postured, in so many ways, to see, detect, stop any attack like what we saw on 9/11.

The major threat is to U.S. troops in Iraq:

We have no credible information that ISIL is planning to attack the United States … in the near term, we’re focused on protecting our personnel on the ground in Iraq.

5 Sep, 2014
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Kerry: Fight may take years

Kerry says that the U.S. needs to combat ISIS without putting boots on the ground:

We need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, to bolster the Iraqi security forces and others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own.

It may take years to defeat the group:

We’re convinced in the days ahead we have the ability to destroy Isis. It may take a year, it may take two years, it may take three years. But we are determined.

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‘We will secure international coalition’

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes says the U.S. is sure of securing international support in the fight against ISIS from European nations concerned that radicalized jihadis who have traveled to the Middle East could return home and create a domestic terror threat. In an interview with CNN:

I absolutely do believe that there will be a coalition of countries from the international community, from here in NATO, also from the region where many of the neighbors have stepped up and said they want to be a part of that type of effort

While the U.S. has yet to commit to airstrikes in Syria there are many other ways partners could contribute:

Intelligence. Law enforcement. Lots of ways for nations to step up to the plate and be a part of this coalition

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‘Send Syrian refugees home’

Lebanese Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi proposes dividing refugees from the Syrian conflict by political alliance and deporting them:

What is at stake now is the proposal that refugees who trust the regime return to the areas under regime control, and those who have faith in Nusra Front and ISIS go to the regions under their control.

Azzi says the option of setting up camps for the refugees similar to the ones existing in Jordan and Turkey is no longer relevant. The remarks come after protests by the families of security personnel kidnapped by ISIS and Al-Nusra Front, the Syrian arm of Al Qaeda.

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Witness: Haines kidnapped by ‘professionals’

A Syrian translator for the charity that David Haines was working with says he was taken in March 2013 by ‘professional gunmen’ who targeted the vehicle in the hopes of gaining Western victims. Haines was in the final hours of a three-day tour to assess locations for new refugee camps in the north of Syria for the Paris-based Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) when he was abducted with the organisation’s Italian coordinator, Federico Motka. Details of the abduction have previously been kept secret until ISIS threatened Haines this week in a video containing the execution by beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff.

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British militants ‘disillusioned’

The International Centre for Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) at King’s College London says it has talked to British militants fighting with ISIS who are growing disillusioned with the group’s aims and its infighting with rival opposition factions. One jihadist claiming to represent 30 British fighters with a group linked to ISIS says they would be willing to undergo deradicalisation and submit to surveillance if they were assured of avoiding jail terms on their return. He tells ICSR:

We came to fight the regime and instead we are involved in gang warfare. It’s not what we came for but if we go back [to Britain] we will go to jail. Right now we are being forced to fight – what option do we have?

ICSR director Peter Neumann believes up to a fifth of British jihadists could be looking for a way to disengage from the fighting in Syria:

The people we have been talking to… want to quit but feel trapped because all the government is talking about is locking them up for 30 years.

6 Sep, 2014
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‘Airstrikes in Syria won’t work’

Schiff, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, says airstrikes in Syria won’t address the primary threat to the U.S. and could increase the risk factor:

The most significant threat we face from ISIS will be the return of foreign fighters to our shores, something an aerial campaign over Syria will do little to address. And in the absence of an immediate threat to our homeland from ISIS planners in Syria … the most profound consequence of U.S. airstrikes may be to give us greater ownership of Syria’s brutal civil war.

The U.S. leveraged potential military strikes and assistance to get Iraqis to jettison Nouri Al-Maliki and form an inclusive government, but the U.S. cannot work with the regime in Damascus:

Bashar al-Assad has gassed and dropped barrel bombs on his own people and teaming up with him would only further drive Sunnis into the arms of ISIS.

Instead the U.S. should take advantage of growing discontent among Assad’s backers – Iran and the Alawite tribe – to lessen the regime’s support.

If we discover an imminent threat to the United States emanating from Syria—and that day may come—the president would be right to attack it and he will enjoy Congress’ full support and authorization. But airstrikes now would only serve to harass, not defeat, ISIS. Let’s use the promise of American military assistance to replace, not reinforce, Assad, so that we may begin to see the outlines of an end to the Syrian civil war and with it, ISIS.

7 Sep, 2014
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Arab League statement

The 22-member Arab League says that it will join the fight against ISIS, taking all necessary security measures and cooperating with international and regional efforts to combat the group. Secretary-general Nabil el-Araby:

What is needed is a clear decision for a comprehensive confrontation, militarily and politically.

He says the plan includes accepting international intervention:

While some Arab states object to allowing the Arab League to intervene in their internal crises, the floodgates are opened to foreign intervention, including militarily.

He also calls for the activation of an Arab defence treaty to allow for military action when needed, suggesting that military action could take place under the umbrella of an Arab League joint defense pact.

8 Sep, 2014
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Denies ‘mission creep’

The White House denies that the expansion of airstrikes in Iraq means it is engaging in ‘mission creep,’ saying that the mission parameters remain to provide humanitarian aid and protect U.S. personnel and facilities. Press Secretary Josh Earnest responds to questions about weekend strikes around the Haditha dam to support anti-ISIS fighters:

The way that it’s been described to me is that there is a threat that if ISIL decided to destroy the Haditha Dam that it could threaten or would threaten the airport downstream from the dam.

9 Sep, 2014
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Video shows captured fighter jets

An ISIS propaganda video shows at least three MIG-21 fighter jets captured in the seizure of al-Taqba airbase. The footage obtained by CNN shows fighters displaying the ISIS flag above the captured jets at the base, which was seized around two weeks earlier. The jets are not shown in the air, however CNN Arabic reports that several pilots were captured along with their planes and helicopters at al-Tabqa. It says a tweet from ISIS claims they are forcing the prisoners to train militants to fly the stolen aircraft.