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Pan-Islamic merged mega thread

Colin Parkinson

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If the Iraq government goes full retard on the remaining Sunni tribes along the KSA border, KSA may feel obligated to protect them, moving forces into the those tribal areas. The Anbar region is west of Baghdad bumps against Syria, Jordon and KSA and is populated by Sunni tribes.
 

a_majoor

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Profile of the Man who would be King:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/nov/28/mohammad-bin-salman-intends-to-be-a-liberalizer-bu/

The man who would be Saudi king
By Clifford D. May - - Tuesday, November 28, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Mohammad bin Salman is a young man in a hurry. When I visited Saudi Arabia back in February he was only the deputy crown prince. Nevertheless, it was he — not 81-year-old King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and not the crown prince, 58-year-old Muhammad bin Nayef — who was the talk of the town.

The 32-year old MBS, as he is known, was regarded as the brains and energy behind Vision 2030, an ambitious plan to construct, by the aforementioned date, a dynamic and diverse Saudi economy, one not dependent on extracting and exporting petroleum. To achieve that, he appeared to understand, will require significant economic, social and religious reforms.

Then, in June, King Salman suddenly decided to replace the crown prince, his nephew, with MBS, his son. Perhaps the king prefers to have a direct descendant as his heir apparent. Perhaps he thinks MBS is better equipped to navigate the stormy seas of the 21st century Middle East. Difficult to say; Saudi Arabia is not transparent.

There have been reports — rumors really — that the king plans to step down any day now. In the meantime, the new crown prince has not been idle. Last month, he announced plans to create a $500 billion independent economic zone on the Red Sea, a cosmopolitan city of the future to be governed by laws “on par with international standards.”

Change is coming to other parts of the country as well. The powers of the religious police have been curbed. Concerts are no longer forbidden. Next year, women will be permitted to drive cars. The prohibition on unrelated men and women mixing and mingling has been loosening.

MBS is promising that under his rule Saudi Arabia will follow “a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions.” As for “extremist thoughts, we will destroy them now and immediately.”

A few decades ago, he added, the kingdom became “not normal.” His meaning was clear: Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Saudis spent billions of dollars attempting to demonstrate that they were no less committed to jihad against the West than the rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Al Qaeda was one result.

Early this month, MBS ordered what’s being called a “corruption crackdown.” More than 30 princes, government ministers and senior military officers were arrested. They have not been incarcerated in a royal dungeon. They’ve been confined instead to the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, which boasts landscaped gardens, restaurants, a “world-class spa,” a swimming pool and a bowling alley. Still, these guests of the crown prince may not be having a wonderful holiday. And checking out may be expensive.

The Saudi prosecutor has reportedly determined how much wealth each detainee has accumulated illicitly. Those who agree to turn over ill-gotten gains to the government will be allowed to go home. Those who profess their innocence can go to court instead. More than $100 billion is expected to be deposited in government coffers.

Putting the screws to the big shots is likely increasing MBS’ popularity among the young — more than 70 percent of Saudis are under 30. It also communicates that the future king’s authority is not to be challenged.

Those who say he is violating due process have a point. But MBS is pursuing modernization, which is facilitated by social liberalization. Neither should be confused with democratization. More to the point, MBS has only one overriding concern: the survival of the kingdom.

Which brings us back to Iran. In the mainstream media, you’ll see references to a Saudi-Iranian “rivalry.” That’s misleading. What’s going on in the Middle East isn’t akin to a competition between the Yankees and the Red Sox.

MBS believes Iran’s rulers pose an existential threat to Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region. With this in mind he last week told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman: “We learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work.” Referring to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he said: “We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East.” (Not surprisingly, this outraged Tehran’s apologists and enablers in the U.S. and Europe.)

The Saudis were dismayed by President Obama, who seemed eager to accommodate the Islamic republic’s rising hegemony, and they have embraced President Trump, who at least talks tough about the ruling mullahs. MBS also appears to be looking at Israel — which Iran’s rulers openly vow to eradicate — with new eyes.

There are those who don’t believe MBS is serious, who regard the notion of a liberalized Saudi Arabia as oxymoronic. Some may observe that prisoners of conscience who pose no threat to the throne, for example Raif Badawi, founder of Free Saudi Liberals, an online forum, has been publicly flogged and imprisoned since 2012 (and not in a luxury hotel). Releasing Mr. Badawi and other prisoners of conscience would go a long way toward proving MBS’ sincerity.

Confronting a mortal enemy on the march, cleaning up deep-rooted corruption, diversifying an extractive economy and moderating the Saudi reading of Islam — these are not modest goals and time is probably not on MBS’ side.

Should he fail, critics will say: “He was inexperienced, took too many risks and alienated too many powerful people.” On the other hand, if a generation from now Saudi Arabia is stable, prosperous and capable of deterring its enemies, MBS will be seen as a brilliant visionary and strategist. Might he then choose to transition from benevolent dictator to constitutional monarch in a democratic system of his own making? My guess is he figures he’ll cross that bridge if he’s lucky enough to come to it.

• Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a columnist for The Washington Times.







 

The Bread Guy

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Via publicintelligence.net ...
This Joint Intelligence Bulletin (JIB)* is intended to provide information on the recent video appearance by the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The video addresses the group’s territorial defeat in Syria, discusses the acceptance of pledges of allegiance from ISIS supporters, and praises recent attacks in Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia. This JIB is provided by the FBI, DHS, and NCTC to support their respective activities and to assist federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government counterterrorism and law enforcement officials and private sector security partners in deterring, preventing, or disrupting terrorist attacks against the United States. All video details described in this JIB are taken from the translated transcript of Baghdadi’s speech. The information cutoff date is 1 May 2019.

(...)

(U//FOUO) The video shows Baghdadi being handed booklets by one of the unidentified men which are labeled with the names of ISIS provinces, including Libya, Khorasan, Somalia, Yemen, Caucasus, West Africa, Central Africa, and Turkey, as well as Tunisia, which is not publicly identified as a province. This is the first time ISIS has referred to Turkey as an official province, or “wilayah,” in its media releases.

• (U//FOUO) Additionally, Baghdadi accepts pledges of allegiance from ISIS members in Burkina Faso and Mali, and congratulates them for joining the “caliphate.” He recommends they intensify their attacks against France and its allies and to avenge their brothers in Iraq and Syria.

• (U//FOUO) Baghdadi congratulates ISIS members in Libya for their resoluteness and their raid on the town of Al Fugaha, Libya. He states that despite their withdrawal from it, they have shown their enemies that they are capable of taking the initiative, knowing their battle today is a battle of attrition.

(...)
More @ link or in attached 4-page PDF if link doesn't work.

* - Jointly issued by USA Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation & National Counterterrorism Center.
 

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The Bread Guy

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Another one nabbed ...
Ukraine's security service said on Friday it had detained the deputy of Abu Omar al-Shishani, the man the Pentagon described as Islamic State's "minister of war", after he crossed into Ukraine on a fake passport last year.

The SBU security service said it had taken into custody Al Bara Shishani, a Georgian citizen, in a joint operation with Georgia's Interior Ministry and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

An SBU statement said an examination of a photograph of Al Bara Shishani in the agency's possession "proved that the detained foreigner is indeed a wanted leader of Islamic State".

Georgia's state security service confirmed Al Bara Shishani was being held in Ukraine. "Yes, we can confirm this fact ... His (birth) name is Cezar Tokhosashvili," said Vika Klimicheva, a spokeswoman for the state security service ...
This, from the Security Service of Ukraine (also source of attached photos):
As a result of joint special operation of the Security Service of Ukraine with foreign special services in Kyiv region, one of the key leaders of the terrorist organization Islamic State was detained.

According to obtained information, a Georgian citizen, nicknamed as Al Bara Shyshani, held a post of Amir of the Jamaat “Ahadun Ahat” in the Latakia province of the Syrian Arab Republic from 2012. In 2013, he held one of the highest positions at ISIS, the deputy military Amir known as Abu Umar al-Shishani. In 2016, when the military Amir was killed, Al Bara Shishani went to Turkey, where he continued to coordinate the activities of the terrorist organization.

In summer 2018, the terrorist illegally arrived in Ukraine using a fake passport. Due to possession of the forged documents, he obtained the legal status in Ukraine.

According to available information, while in Ukraine, the terrorist continued to coordinate the ISIS special centers, so-called the Amniyat.

Law-enforcement officers detained the criminal near the private residence in Kyiv region where he lived.

The facial recognition confirmed that the detainee is indeed the wanted ISIS leader. The terrorist is arrested for extradition purposes.

The information regarding  his affiliation to the crimes on the territory of Ukraine shall be verified.

SBU on regular basis  effectively cooperates with partnership special law-enforcement bodies to detect  and neutralize terrorist threats timely.
This from Georgian media:
State Security Service of Georgia has released a statement regarding the detention of Georgian citizen Tsezar Tokhosashvili by the State Security Service of Ukraine.

“The State Security Service of Ukraine, in cooperation with the State Security Service of Georgia, detained in Kiev, Ukraine a citizen of Georgia, Tsezar Tokhosashvili wanted by Georgia under a Red notice of INTERPOL on a charge of involvement in the activities of a terrorist organization.

As a result of investigation carried out by the Counterterrorism Center of the State Security Service of Georgia, it was established that in 2014, Tsezar Tokhosashvili left for the Syrian Arab Republic and joined combat activities against Syrian government forces. Investigation established that in 2015, Tsezar Tokhosashvili became a member of the terrorist organization “Islamic State”. He had a close relations with the leaders of the “Islamic State”: Tarkhan Batirashvili, Islam Atabiev and Ahmed Chatayev.

On November 6, 2019, Tbilisi City Court sentenced Tsezar Tokhosashvili to imprisonment,” the statement reads.
 

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The Bread Guy

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Taliban-hostage trade
The Taliban freed two Western hostages Tuesday after the Afghan government released three important Taliban prisoners, who were flown to Qatar where the Taliban has a political team.

Sources told VOA the hostages, American Kevin C. King, 63, and Australian Timothy J. Weeks, 50, were released in Zabul province in southern Afghanistan. A 48-hour ceasefire was in place in multiple districts in Zabul to help the process. 

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed that 10 Afghan soldiers were also released as part of the deal. 

The three Taliban prisoners were flown from Kabul to Doha in a special Qatar government plane, according to sources in the Afghan government. A former Taliban ambassador currently based in Doha, Mawlawi Abdul Salam Zaeef, confirmed that the prisoners had arrived.

Another source said the prisoners were allowed to meet the Taliban political team in Doha Monday night.

Qatar has, for years, facilitated an unofficial Taliban political office in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in order to enable Western governments to negotiate with the group. Most direct talks between the U.S. and the Taliban have taken place there.

In a statement welcoming the release of the three prisoners, Mujahid thanked the emir of Qatar and the Qatari foreign minister for assisting the process. "These actions are a step forward in good-will and confidence building measures that can aid the peace process," he said.

King and Weeks were kidnapped in Kabul in August 2016 as they were leaving the American University of Afghanistan where they taught ...
A bit more @ link
 

The Bread Guy

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Another bad guy nabbed in Ukraine ...
An elite Ukrainian police unit has apprehended a suspected 30-year-old member of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Zhytomyr region west of Kyiv.

The Russian citizen was detained based on an Interpol notice related to murder and was hiding in Ukraine to evade arrest, the National Police said in a statement on November 21.

The unnamed suspect was born in the easternmost Ukrainian region of Luhansk but had lived in Russia for an extended period.

"According to reports, the detainee is a member of the terrorist radical organization Islamic State and even the leader of one of its groups," the police said.

"By ethnicity, he is Daghestani, but was born in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. He lived in Russia for a long time. He was hiding in the territory of our country in order to avoid responsibility for murder." ...
 

The Bread Guy

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A look at these ISIS types being nabbed in Ukraine ...
As far as extreme terror went, Al Bara Shishani had a reputation.

Understood to have held the post of Isis’ deputy minister of war, head of a unit responsible for “special operations” and surveillance, the Georgian-born commander reportedly had a hand in it all: executions of “non-believers”; public beheadings; terror operations abroad.

He also had a reputation for being dead – that is, until last Friday.

Al Bara Shishani’s dramatic reappearance in the dock of a court room in central Kiev was shocking not only for the fact of how alive he was.

As details emerged about his miraculous resurrection – how he dodged what had been reported as a fatal air strike in Syria, then used a fake passport to travel to Turkey and Ukraine, where he would live untroubled for two years – a number of questions came begging about Kiev’s capacity and willingness to deal with terrorists taking shelter within.

According to the SBU, Ukraine’s admittedly unreliable security agency, Al Bara Shishani even continued to coordinate Isis terror operations from Kiev.

(...)

Ukrainian authorities have long fostered holes in their legal and law enforcement systems. The usual beneficiary is organised crime, which sustains itself on the flow of fake IDs and contraband, says Philip Ingram, a former British intelligence officer. But the lax regime has also created an obvious vulnerability to international terrorism.

“It is a vulnerability that Kiev does not seem entirely interested in addressing,” Ingram said.

The US has been particularly frustrated at Kiev’s inability to stop the fake passport trade. In remarks made during the Trump impeachment inquiry, State Department official George Kent revealed how a major conflict erupted between the US embassy and Ukrainian authorities in 2017. Mr Kent had been deputy ambassador at the time.

(...)

Ukraine offers several advantages over the competition too: the common Russian language, chaos of war, unprofessionalism of local security services, and the low risk of extradition to countries such as Russia. 

(Jihad expert and visiting fellow at Harvard University Vera) Mironova estimates “hundreds” of former Isis fighters have decamped to Ukraine. But it is not the numbers that should be of primary concern, she said. The cluster of terrorists in Ukraine were by their nature a “self-selecting” elite: “This isn’t a random selection. The slower guys stop as soon as they get to Turkey. After all, it is a multiple-step operation to get to Ukraine. The ones who get there are the dangerous ones.”

Once militants get to Ukraine, they rarely encounter problems with authorities, said Mironova ...
 

MarkOttawa

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Start of a post:

Struggles Within Islam, or, Persians vs Arabs for Power Actually

Further to this post from 2015,

Yemen: And Another Arab Capital Falls to Iran

excerpts from a review by David D. Kirkpatrick (tweets here) in the New York Times Book Review:

The Unraveling of the Muslim World
...
https://mark3ds.wordpress.com/2020/03/01/struggles-within-islam-or-persians-vs-arabs-for-power-actually/comment-page-1/

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