Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Islamic State Affiliated Groups And Their Current Status

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

According to this Intel Center list, there are currently 43 worldwide terrorist groups which have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State. I started wondering how many of those were active, how many weren’t covered by that list, and what was the most recent documented activity of each. Hence this list.

I started with the Intel Center list, found the most recent activity (if any) for the group listed, added a few groups I knew they were missing, and alphabetized the whole thing (it was originally group by country). I don’t speak Arabic, so this list is not alphabetized the way an Arab scholar might alphabetize it. I’ve given alternate names and spellings where known, but this information is almost certainly not complete. I’ve tried to distinguish between similarly named groups, but it’s still entirely possibly I’ve gotten something wrong. Terrorist groups form, splinter and die-off all the time.

File all this under “first cut,” “incomplete” and “work in progress.”

  • Abu Sayyaf Group [Philippines]: Attempts to arrest Abu Sayyaf head Isnilon Hapilon are what evidently set off the fighting in Marawi City.
  • al-Ansar Battalion [Algeria]: Defectors from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), supposedly less than 10 fighters, and I see no evidence of recent activity. Not to be confused with other jihadist al-Ansar Battalions, such as those in the Syrian Free Army or the Ma’arakat al-Ansar Battalion in the Sulu archipelago of the Philippines.
  • al-Ghurabaa [Algeria]: No recent news. Not to be confused with the UK radical islamic group of the same name.
  • al-Huda Battalion in Maghreb of Islam [Algeria]: May have been absorbed into Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria (see below).
  • al-Shabaab Jubba Region Cell Bashir Abu Numan [Somalia]: Bashir Abu Numan was a commander for al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab commander who defected to the Islamic State with some 20 fighters late in 2015, and who was later killed by al-Shabaab’s Amniyat death squads. Possibly moribund.
  • al-I’tisam of the Koran and Sunnah [Sudan]: Apparently no activity since January 2016, when some of its supporters were released from prison.
  • al-Tawheed Brigade in Khorasan [Afghanistan]: Not seeing any under that name, but there’s lots of news about “Islamic State in Khorasan,” namely fierce fighting against U.S. troops over the last four months, with their leader being killed in an air strike.
  • Ansar al-Islam [Iraq]: Appears to have merged with the Islamic State proper. Not to be confused with other groups named Ansar al-Islam, including a Bangladeshi group of that name affiliated with al Qaeda.
  • Ansar al-Khilafah [Philippines]: There are reports that some 40 Ansar al-Khilafah fighters joined Maute for the assault on Marawi City.
  • Ansar al-Tawhid in India [India]: Beyond issuing a call to kill non-Muslims in 2014, it does not seem to be very active.
  • Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) [Phillippines]: BIFF is another group that seems to be participating in the fighting on Mindanao, and members were covered in a recent Filipino Department of National Defense arrest orders.
  • Bangsmoro Justice Movement (BJM) [Phillippines]: BJM is a breakaway splinter from BIFF, and does not seem to have any notable activity since pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.
  • Boko Haram (AKA the Islamic State in West Africa, AKA Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad) [Nigeria]: Still very active, and participated in a running gun battle with police in Kano Sunday. Estimates of Boko Haram’s size range from 4,000 to 20,000 fighters.
  • Central Sector of Kabardino-Balakria of the Caucasus Emirate [Russia]: Can’t find any recent information. Presumably defectors from the crumbling Caucasus Emirate.
  • Djamaat Houmat ad-Da’wa as-Salafiya (DHDS) [Algeria]: Another Algerian terrorist group that does not seem to have done much of anything.
  • Faction of Katibat al-Imam Bukhari [Syria]: All the reports I can fund on Katibat al-Imam Bukhari seem to refer to them as an Uzbek Islamist group, some of which seem to be fighting in Syria under Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, AKA the Al-Nusra Front, which split off from the Islamic State, was at one time affiliated with al Qaeda, and now is theoretically independent of both.
  • Heroes of Islam Brigade in Khorasan [Afghanistan]: See al-Tawheed Brigade in Khorasan.
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) [Pakistan/Uzbekistan]: Actively fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
  • Islamic State in Afghanistan: Not in the Intel Center list. Actively fighting against both U.S. troops and the Taliban. Reported to have ties to the Pakistani ISI, which wouldn’t surprise me at all.
  • Islamic State Libya (Darnah) [Libya]: Egyptian warplanes hit them in May in response for their involvement in killing Egyptian Copts.
  • Islamic Youth Shura Council [Libya]: Evidently still active in 2017. “Established an Islamic court and police authority in Benghazi. The group is notorious for decapitating swaths of residents from both Derna and Benghazi.”
  • Jaish al-Sahabah in the Levant [Syria]: No recent news, possibly absorbed into the Islamic State or other factions in the Syrian civil war.
  • Jamaat Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (AKA Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, AKA Wilayat Sinai, AKA Ansar Jerusalem, AKA Ansar Jerusalem, AKA Supporters of the Holy Place) [Egypt]: Turned into the Sinai Province of the Islamic State. One of its members was killed by Egyptian security forces last week.
  • Jemaah Islamiyah [Philippines/Indonesia]: Very active in various bombing campaigns in Indonesia, but have evidently been relatively quiet since 2015.
  • Jemaah Anshorut (or Jamaah Ansharut) Tauhid (JAT) [Indonesia]: Evidently the successor to several other jihadist groups in Indonesia, Stratfor describes it as “sputtering,” and the pledge of allegiance to al-Baghdadi caused several members to split into still another terrorist group.
  • Jund al-Khilafah in Egypt [Egypt]: No recent news, probably merged into the Sinai Province of the Islamic State. See Jamaat Ansar Bait al-Maqdis.
  • Jund al-Khilafah in Tunisia [Tunisia]: They recently killed the brother of a shepherd they had also killed in 2015. But the group is also said to be gathering strength in the mountains.
  • Jundullah [Pakistan]: Jundullah carried out several attacks in Pakistan between 2012 and 2015, and is thought to be a member of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan umbrella jihadi group, not all of which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. There’s a seperate Jundallah in Iran that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.
  • Khalid ibn al-Walid Army [Syria]. Not on Intel Center list. Syrian jihad group that merged with Martyrs of al-Yarmouk Brigade, also pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and reportedly controls territory in southern Syria along the Golan Heights.
  • Leaders of the Mujahid in Khorasan (ten former TTP commanders) [Pakistan]: Not finding any recent information on this splinter group.
  • Lions of Libya [Libya]: No news since they reportedly pledged their allegiance in 2014.
  • Liwa Ahrar al-Sunna in Baalbek [Lebanon]: Claimed credit for a car bomb attacked that killed a Hezbollah leader in 2014. (Remember, as a Shi’a militia/terrorist group, members of Hezbollah are automatically on the Islamic State’s “kill on sight” list.)
  • Martyrs of al-Yarmouk Brigade [Syria]: Evidently merged with other groups into the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, which has also pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and reportedly controls territory in southern Syria.
  • Maute (AKA Islamic State in Lanao) [Philippines]: Not in the Intel Center list. The primary group responsible for the fighting in Marawi City. Reportedly led by brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute.
  • Mujahideen Indonesia Timor (MIT) (AKA East Indonesia Mujahideen EIM) [Indonesia]: Do not seem to have been active after their leader, Abu Wardah Santoso, was killed in 2016.
  • Mujahideen of Tunisia of Kairouan [Tunisia]: Not seeing any notable news since 2015, when they carried out a deadly beach attack.
  • Mujahideen of Yemen [Yemen]: Possibly absorbed into the Islamic State in Yemen (AKA Wilayat Sana) proper.
  • Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSCJ) [Egypt/Gaza]: Intel Center says Egypt, other sources say they’re active only in Gaza. Since Hamas has not pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, they seem to have been pretty thoroughly suppressed there.
  • The Nokhchico Wilayat of the Caucasus Emirate [Russia]: Can’t find any recent information. Presumably defectors from the crumbling Caucasus Emirate.
  • Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion [Tunisia]: Two members were killed in a raid by Tunisian forces, but they were described as “an al-Qaeda-linked group.”
  • Shura Council of Shabab al-Islam Darnah [Libya]: No news since significant defeats in 2014.
  • The Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria (AKA Jund al-Khilafah fi Ard al-Jazair, AKA Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Algeria Province) [Algeria]: It’s possible that the June 6 Paris hammer attacker may have been a member. If not, they seem to have been largely ineffective. “For the past two years, the Algerian military has stopped 44 members of a local armed group called ‘Soldiers of the Caliphate’ that swore allegiance to the leader of Daesh, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.”
  • Supporters for the Islamic State in Yemen [Yemen]: Like Mujahideen of Yemen, not a lot of news.
  • Supporters of the Islamic State in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques [Saudi Arabia]: Nothing since they shot a Danish national back in 2014.
  • Tehreek-e-Khilafat [Pakistan]: Though it has roots in a movement advocating resistance to British rule during World War I, evidently Tehreek-e-Khilafat has been amalgamated into Wilayat Khorasan, the South and Central Asian “chapter” of the Islamic State, along with “Khilafat Afghan (former Afghan Taliban), the Tehreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan (former TTP), Tehreek-e-Khilafat Khorasan (former TTP), the Omar Ghazi group, the Muslimdost group, the Azizullah Haqqani group (former Afghan Taliban), the Shamali Khilafat, the Jaish-ul-Islam, the Harakat Khilafat Baluch, the Mullah Bakhtwar group (former TTP), the Jaish-ul-Islam and the China-oriented Gansu Hui group created by WK members themselves.” Together they are thought to number some 1,000-3,000 fighters.
  • LinkSwarm for July 21, 2017

    Friday, July 21st, 2017

    I’m getting to the point where my eyes automatically skip over stories with the words “Russia” or “Mueller” in the same way they skip over stories with the word “Kardashian.” So be advised the smattering of Russia news here is of the non-imaginary variety:

  • Hillary is even more unpopular than President Trump.
  • Liberals: “Democratic voters are fired up and ready to vote against Trump!” Polls: Eh, not so much.
  • To win back voters, Democrats need to be less annoying:

    No item in your life is too big or too small for this variety of liberal busybodying. On the one hand, the viral video you found amusing was actually a manifestation of the patriarchy. On the other hand, you actually have an irresponsibly large number of carbon-emitting children.

    All this scolding – this messaging that you should feel guilty about aspects of your life that you didn’t think were anyone else’s business – leads to a weird outcome when you go to vote in November.” The central premise is probably valid, but the piece itself is larded with lies and half-truths.

    True, but this piece comes with a very large caveat: In this course of describing why Social Justice Warriors annoy the living shit out of ordinary Americans, author Josh Berro (a registered Democrat) makes several sweeping assertions about the supposed popularity of tranny bathrooms, gay marriage and gun control that are simply false.

  • The real lessons of the Natalia Veselnitskaya affair. Including this:

    It’s clear that Natalia Veselnitskaya pulled a bait-and-switch on Donald Trump, Jr. She induced him to a meeting with the promise of information that could be used against Hillary Clinton, but delivered no such information. Instead, she used the meeting to lobby the son of the presumptive Republican nominee for president on the supposed evils of the Magnitsky Act.

    And this:

    Second, the pro-Russia element in Washington, D.C. is substantial and cuts across party and ideological lines. Dana Rohrabacher, dubbed Putin’s favorite congressman, is a conservative. Ron Dellums was among the most liberal members of Congress.

    Shame to hear that about Rohrabacher, who I did an interview with a long, long time ago.

  • The damage the Obama Administration did to the criminal justice system in America. “Under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Department of Justice pushed the states to pass new laws. The goal was to make it impossible to hold repeat offenders in jail before trial. Why? Because so many repeat offenders are black.”
  • Still more about the madness at Evergreen State College. “I was told that I couldn’t go into the room because I was white.”
  • Trump ends Obama’s asinine CIA-run guns for Syrian jihadis program (though we’re still arming the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces). Naturally the MSM is spinning this as “Putin wins!”, but as I’ve argued before, we never had any national interest in arming anti-Assad jihadis in the first place.
  • President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are evidently telling Qatar and Saudi Arabia to play nice.
  • Iran says we’re violating the agreement Obama never bothered to have the Senate ratify. See if they can spin their centrifuges until the world’s smallest violin tumbles out.
  • Russia can’t modernize it’s one aircraft carrier because doing so might take ten years.
  • Turkey leaks secret locations of U.S. troops in Syria. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Turkey is long overdue for a reassessment of it’s NATO membership anyway… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of Turkey, here’s the latest on their tiff with Germany. (Also via Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Poland on verge of passing a law forcing all their supreme court justices over a certain age, except those reappointed by the justice minister, to retire. The EU is complaining it’s a “blow to a independent judiciary,” while the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party is saying its getting rid of a lot of holdover communist judges.
  • “The USA (where there is a War On Drugs under way) has 30 times the overdose death rates per capita as Portugal (which legalized or decriminalized essentially all drugs 15 years ago).”
  • Even if Congressional Republicans still can’t repeal ObamaCare (in which case we need to replace them), the Trump Administration still has many options to chip away at it.
  • Sen. John McCain diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Best wishes for his speedy recovery.
  • Kurt Schlichter says we must elect Kid Rock Senator, chiefly due to the conniptions it will induce in Never Trumpers like George Will and Bill Kristol.
  • Have Clinton donors lined up behind California Senator Kamala Harris as heir 2020 Presidential nominee? On the plus side, she would help shore up the Obama coalition among black voters. On the minus side, she does a much poorer job than Obama of hiding just far out on the left wing of the party she is. After all, this was a woman who preferred seeing Catholic hospitals serving the poor close unless they agreed to perform abortions.
  • The Washington Post is very, very upset that all their fake news isn’t moving their fake polls. “Maybe you shouldn’t have cried wolf all those other times. Or was this one another crying of wolf? You squandered your credibility, trying so hard to get Trump. You built up our skepticism and our capacity to flesh out the other side of any argument against Trump.”
  • “US Special Operators Are Moving Closer to the Fighting in Raqqa.” Evidence? “On July 17, 2017, pictures began to appear on social media of flat bed trucks carrying M1245A5 M-ATV mine protected vehicles. On July 20, 2017, additional images emerged of another convoy with more M1245s, as well as a number of up-armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers.” The M1245A5 M-ATV is evidently only used by U.S. special forces. Bulldozers were also crucial to the battle of Mosul.
  • Up yours, Islamic State: bar reopens in Qaraqosh, Iraq, southeast of Mosul, liberated nine months ago.
  • This week Palestinians are rioting over (rolls dice) metal detectors.
  • Texas Speaker Joe Straus has received a no confidence vote from his hometown Bexar County Republicans.
  • “Nearly four out of every five dollars that Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren (D.) reported last quarter came from donors outside of her home state.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government’s regulatory footprint.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The Juice is loose. Well, not really: O.J. Simpson will not be released on parole until at least October. While I believe Simpson did indeed get away with a double homicide, he was acquitted of that charge, and his current parole is in line with his time served on the robbery and kidnapping charges of which he was actually convicted. Now Simpson can get back to paying off his civil lawsuit judgment.
  • “Newsweek Settles with Journalist Smeared by Kurt Eichenwald.” So. Much. Stupidity. “Eichenwald inferred that the only possible means by which Trump could have come across the misattributed quote was purposeful collusion with the Russians, and that the Wikileaks documents themselves had been altered.” Although, to be absolutely fair to everyone’s favorite seizure-prone tentacle-porn fan, plaintiff Bill Moran did not exactly cover himself in glory either… (Hat tip: Lee Stranahan’s Twitter feed.)
  • Sting hardest hit.
  • The story behind the hundred most iconic movie props of all time. I would have gone with Stonehenge rather than the 11 knobs from This is Spinal Tap… (Hat tip: VA Viper.)
  • “DC Comics Reboots Snagglepuss as ‘Gay, Southern Gothic Playwright.'” Honestly, I have so little interest in the original character this actually strikes me as an improvement. (Imagine the outrage if they brought back Scrappy Doo as an “antifa” agitator. That’s right, there wouldn’t be any, because everybody hates Scrappy Doo.) Though one wonders just who the audience is for this reboot; I doubt many urban hipsters will make their way to a comic store for the irony value…
  • No, get all the way off my lawn, you stupid kids!
  • The State of the War Against the Islamic State

    Thursday, July 13th, 2017

    The coalition of forces fighting the Islamic State continue to make steady advances on a number of fronts:

  • Mosul is liberated, though mop-up operations against tiny pockets of resistance continues. They just pulled 28 mostly foreign born militants out of tunnels. That sort of thing can continue for a while. The Washington Post has a nice overview of the campaign to retake Mosul.
  • Islamic State forces are completely surrounded in Raqqa, as coalition aircraft pound militant positions in the capital of the crumbling caliphate and the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to grind them down in street-to-street urban warfare. Here’s the livemap snapshot:

  • There are consistent but unconfirmed reports from a number of sources that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. As in past cases of jihadis reported dead long before they actually reached room temperature, a large dollop of caution is in order. Though this quote from a coalition spokesman (relayed via Stephen Green at Instapundit) is pretty glorious: “We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed.”
  • Given the investment of Raqqa, there are conflicting reports as to where the Islamic State’s defacto capital is now: Some say Deir ez-Zor, others say Al Mayadin, AKA Mayadeen, which is all of 44km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, both in Syria on the Euphrates near what used to be the Iraqi border.

  • How President Trump’s strategy against the Islamic State differs from Obama’s:

    Under President Obama, U.S. Army Special Forces assigned to Syrian Democratic Forces needed special approval from Washington for virtually all tactical moves amid the politically complex theater of Americans, Arabs, Kurds, Turks and Syrians.

    In Tabqa, where the city, its dam and its airfield were the objectives, the Green Berets decided they needed an airlift. Suddenly minus red tape, Arabs, Kurds and Americans were helicoptering into battle, and they quickly seized territory.

    Under Mr. Obama, Islamic State terrorists could at times retreat from towns, immune from airstrikes if they used civilians as cover. The battle for Manbij in August became infamous when the SDF let 200 Islamic State fighters turn in their weapons and escape because they had threatened to kill town residents if they were not allowed to run away.

    The new Trump strategy calls for surrounding towns, as opposed to pushing from one end or one side to another, in order to isolate Islamic State fighters and annihilate them.

    Brett H. McGurk, special U.S. envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State who performed the same role for Mr. Obama, talked of “the delegations of authority which has made a difference in terms of the speed of execution. I think Tabqa was an example of that.”

    “Our military people on the ground saw an opportunity to kind of surprise ISIS with a helicopter, moving them by helicopter, surprise them from behind and seize the airport, the dam and the town,” Mr. McGurk later told reporters at the Pentagon.

    After Tabqa’s liberation, Mr. McGurk spoke to the city’s mayor, who gave a brief description of the war of annihilation.

    “He also said he believes that most of these foreign fighters are now dead,” the diplomat said.

    Mr. Mattis said: “No longer will we have slowed decision cycles because Washington, D.C., has to authorize tactical movements. I’ll leave that to the generals who know how to do those kind of things. We don’t direct that from here. They know our intent is the foreign fighters do not get out. I leave it to their skill, their cunning, to carry that out.”

  • Some videos:

    House-by-house clearing in Raqqa:

    The ruins of the Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul, from which al-Baghdadi declared his short-lived caliphate:

  • The Islamic State is by no means destroyed, but they’re definitely on the ropes. The defeat of the Islamic State won’t end transnational Islamic fundamentalism, but it will certainly take the wind out of their sails.

    Not included in this roundup: Groups outside Islamic State territory that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. I hope to have a separate roundup on them Real Soon Now.

    Note: Post updated to remove embedded video on improvised weapons of the Battle for Mosul, as it’s been taken down for “violating YouTube’s Terms of Service,” possibly because it included Islamic State propaganda videos of weapon-making among the footage.

    Mosul (Mostly) Liberated

    Sunday, July 9th, 2017

    Iraqi forces have declared victory over the Islamic State in Mosul, although evidently a small pocket of resistance right up against the Tigris remains.

    Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi has visited Mosul to congratulate Iraqi forces for their victory over IS in the city.

    Mr Abadi was there to announce the city’s full “liberation”, his office said in a statement.

    Iraqi forces, backed by US-led air strikes, have been battling to retake Mosul since 17 October last year.

    Islamic State militants seized it in June 2014 before taking much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland and proclaiming a “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria.

    Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen have also been involved in the gruelling battle.

    This map from ISIS Livemap shows a slightly larger area of Islamic State control in Mosul, including a remaining section of the old city.

    Some videos showing the fighting and destruction:

    LinkSwarm for June 30, 2017

    Friday, June 30th, 2017

    The year is half over! Donald Trump has been the 45th President of the United States of America for over five months, and liberals still haven’t stopped freaking out about it.

  • It’s Obamacare that’s killing people, and just two classes of states are showing any immunity. Deaths from opiate overdoses are on the rise across the country, except in states that either legalized marijuana or declined Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.”
  • President Trump this morning: Repeal ObamaCare now, replace it later. Which is pretty much what Republicans have been campaigning on for the last six years
  • Ted Cruz may kill the ObamaCare mandate.
  • Lying with numbers: CBO estimates 18 million people will be covered by ObamaCare in 2017. Actual number enrolled at the end of 2016: 9.1 million. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Maxine Waters Says 700 Billion People Are About to Lose Their Healthcare.”
  • “Anthem Inc.’s decision to quit offering Obamacare plans in much of Nevada will leave large parts of the state without options on the health law’s exchanges.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The House Democrats IT scandal just keeps getting weirder:

    Multiple members of Congress hired as their information technology (IT) administrator an individual whose most recent job experience was being fired from McDonald’s, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

    Spokesmen for the members won’t say what their bosses knew at the time, but the hiring decisions highlight the role — witting or unwitting — the representatives played in what turned out to be an alleged multi-million-dollar IT scam in Congress with serious implications for national security.

    Soon after Imran Awan joined the staff of Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2005, his brothers Abid and Jamal, his wife Hina, and his brother’s wife Natalia all appeared on other members’ payrolls, supposedly as IT administrators. His best friend Rao Abbas landed on the payroll too. Most of them made salaries ordinarily only chiefs of staff earn, but they were rarely seen or heard from in Hill IT circles.

    The crew is now the target of a U.S. Capitol Police criminal information security probe with assistance from other law enforcement agencies as needed. Politico reported the “House staffers are accused of stealing equipment from members’ offices without their knowledge and committing serious, potentially illegal, violations on the House IT network.”

    By my count, the unqualified members of Imran Awan’s circle (who frequently failed to even show up for work) could read the emails of the 31 different House Democrats…

  • Postscript on the Georgia 6th Congressional District special election: Jon Ossoff actually got fewer votes than the ghost candidate that ran in 2016:

    One good reason why Tom Price beat his last opponent by 23 points was that his last opponent was functionally indistinguishable from a corpse or a bag of lettuce. [Democratic candidate Rodney] Stooksbury spent precisely $0 on his campaign and has never been seen in public. Jon Ossoff had the entire national Democratic Party pulling out the stops for him, and flooded Atlanta television with ten million dollars in advertising. Drastically improving on the Stooksbury numbers should be no dazzling feat. (Although, somewhat hilariously, Stooksbury actually got more total votes than Ossoff, 124,917 to Ossoff’s 124,893. Granted, special elections have lower turnout, but good grief.)

    Ghost workers in the House, ghost candidates on the ballot. Your modern Democratic Party, ladies and gentlemen… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Speaking of the modern Democratic Party: Members of the all-Democratic City Council in White Plains, New York selected party chairwoman Elizabeth Shollenberger for a plum six-figure judicial seat. Tiny problem: She’s too morbidly obese to perform her duties. If ever there was a metaphor for Democratic-run government…
  • Democrat Seth Williams, former Philadelphia District Attorney, has resigned as part of a bribery plea deal. “In addition to accepting that he could face a maximum five-year term when he is sentenced, Williams agreed to forfeit $64,878.22.” Part of the plea deal was pleading guilty to one count of bribery so he could skate on the other 28…
  • Democrats and the national media sure put the Scalise shooting behind them quickly so they could get back to saying Republicans want to kill you:

    Less than 48 hours after a multiple assassination attempt on members of Congress, there were no media vans or cameras at the Alexandria baseball field where it occurred. Just for perspective, when Republican staffer Elizabeth Lauten committed the offense of writing something critical of President Obama’s daughters on her private Facebook page, news cameras were camped on her parents’ lawn staking her out for the better part of a week.

  • The Islamic State is close to defeat in Mosul and being driven out of Iraq:

    Col. Ryan Dillon, the Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said that Iraqi forces on Thursday cut a wedge in the middle of the area held by Islamic State, seizing the Nouri mosque and cornering the few hundred remaining fighters in half of Mosul’s Old City on one side, and an area around a hospital that has been a stronghold for the group on the other side.

    Col. Dillon predicted that the fighting would be over in a matter of days and that it would then take time to fully clear the areas the Islamic State holdouts.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • Also, all Islamic State escape routes from Raqqa are now blocked off. (Hat tip: Prairie Pundit.)
  • “Since Donald Trump was elected I have seen a spate of local news stories about companies building, expanding, or investing in manufacturing plants within a 50 mile radius of Chattanooga.”
  • Based on the evidence, everything the experts know seems to be wrong, at least if those “experts” are in the news media.
  • Third Project Veritas CNN video drops. Jimmy Carr, Associate Producer for CNN’s New Day, calls American voters “stupid as shit.”
  • Have those CNN videos finally gotten the MSM to give up on their Russia fantasy?
  • House passes two border control bills. “One is known as Kate’s Law that increases penalties for illegal immigrants who keep trying to re-enter the United States, especially those who have criminal records. The second denies federal grants to sanctuary cities.”
  • Three gay Jews asked leave the “2017 Dyke March Chicago” because their Jewish pride flag bore the Star of David. “If the Star of David makes you feel unsafe, there’s a word for that …”
  • More on the same theme:

    Intersectionality functions as kind of caste system, in which people are judged according to how much their particular caste has suffered throughout history. Victimhood, in the intersectional way of seeing the world, is akin to sainthood; power and privilege are profane.

    By that hierarchy, you might imagine that the Jewish people — enduring yet another wave of anti-Semitism here and abroad — should be registered as victims. Not quite.

    Why? Largely because of Israel, the Jewish state, which today’s progressives see only as a vehicle for oppression of the Palestinians — no matter that Israel has repeatedly sought to meet Palestinian claims with peaceful compromise, and no matter that progressives hold no other country to the same standard. China may brutalize Buddhists in Tibet and Muslims in Xinjiang, while denying basic rights to the rest of its 1.3 billion citizens, but “woke” activists pushing intersectionality keep mum on all that.

    One of the women who was asked to leave the Dyke March, an Iranian Jew named Eleanor Shoshany-Anderson, couldn’t understand why she was kicked out of an event that billed itself as intersectional. “The Dyke March is supposed to be intersectional,” she said. “I don’t know why my identity is excluded from that. I felt that, as a Jew, I am not welcome here.”

    She isn’t. Because though intersectionality cloaks itself in the garb of humanism, it takes a Manichaean view of life in which there can only be oppressors and oppressed. To be a Jewish dyke, let alone one who deigns to support Israel, is a categorical impossibility, oppressor and oppressed in the same person.

  • Progressive urban policies make life harder for the working class. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • President Trump nominates former Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison as the next NATO ambassador. Not my favorite Texas Republican Senator by a long shot, but I fail to see how she would be unqualified for this role.
  • 100-year-old crime boss beats the odds, is released from prison.”
  • Lawyer who committed $600 million in Social Security fraud has evidently skipped the country, claims to be broke. Sure, sport…
  • Label drops Austin band Dream Machine for WrongThink. Including a legal immigrant who was critical of illegal aliens:

    Doris Melton, who came to the United States from Bosnia told the website she was “glad they’re finally starting to work on deporting criminal illegal aliens too. It took ages for me to get my green card here legally and because there’s so many illegals coming in they make it hard for the people who do want to become part of American society the right way. They’re handing out free money to people who come here illegally, but when you want to work hard to become an American citizen to start a family they make it so hard on you, and expensive!”

    Later in the interview, Doris Melton was asked to name something that bothers her about the music industry. She responded by saying “girls have mostly become lazy jellyfish and are starting these horrible feminist bands just to try and ‘show men what they got’.”

    She went on to say, “The safe space mentality has made them weak. They don’t even know how to play their instruments! They’ll make songs about being ‘sexually assaulted’ or about how ’empowering’ abortions are or some (expletive) and it’s (expletive) retarded, they’re embarrassing themselves. If men did that they would be crucified! You see the longing for a gender supremacy under the guise of ‘equal rights.’ What happened to the incredible female singers from back in the day with real talent, singing about finding true love and wanting to be a good woman?”

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

  • Sarah Palin sues the New York Times for defamation over their claim that she “incited Jared Loughner” to murder people.
  • New York Times staffers rebel against cutbacks. Hey, when you alienate half of your potential audience, a Mexican billionaire’s largess only goes so far…
  • “Wrestling’s new villain named himself ‘Progressive Liberal.'” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • I have no idea how this happened:

    I don’t recall getting into a Twitter tiff with John Cusack, and I’ve liked most of the Cusack films I’ve seen (Being John Malkovich, Grosse Pointe Blank, High Fidelity). I even had mostly kind things to say about him in 1408. I assume he must be using one of those autoblockbot things to avoid running into #WrongThink…

  • You know you suck when Phil Donahue tells you to stop being such a pussy.
  • Methhead with nine prior felony convictions given life for evidence tampering. Previous convictions include manslaughter of an Arizona State Trooper and engaging in a “deviant sex act involving a squash.” And then there’s the creepy stuff…
  • “A BBC investigation found fecal bacteria in iced drinks from Starbucks and 2 other chains.” Is this a Starbucks problem, or a UK water quality problem? (Hat tip: Todd Kincannon’s Gab feed.)
  • LinkSwarm for June 23, 2017

    Friday, June 23rd, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! There’s so much news I’m going to punt “The Pelosi Question” to the weekend:

  • In case you hadn’t noticed, illinois is going bankrupt.
  • John Podesta to testify before the House Intelligence committee. Hopefully they’ll ask him about the allegations in Shattered that he and Robby Mook cooked up the entire “Russia hacked the election” fantasy within 24 hours of Hillary’s loss. And also about his and his brother’s documented financial ties to Russia.
  • Former state Department/CIA employee charged with espionage for China:

    A former State Department employee was arrested Thursday and charged with espionage for allegedly transmitting Top Secret and Secret documents to a Chinese government agent, according to an affidavit filed with the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA.

    Kevin Mallory, 60, of Leesburg is a self-employed consultant who speaks fluent Chinese. Court filings show that Mallory was an Army veteran who worked as a special agent for U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service from 1987 to 1990. Since then, Mallory has worked for various government agencies and defense contractors, maintaining a Top Secret security clearance. The Washington Post reports that Mallory was also an employee of the CIA.

  • A lot of hardcore Democrats are becoming increasingly uneasy about the way that Trump Derangement Syndrome has warped their party:

    We do know that Wednesday’s congressional attacker, James Hodgkinson, shared a conspiracy-tinged Change.org link on March 22, accompanied by the caption, “Trump is a traitor.” Once again, it has to be stressed that this information is woefully insufficient to conclude that the perpetrator was motivated by Russia-oriented conspiracy theories. Motivations are multifaceted, and often political beliefs “intersect” with mental distress, causing people to act violently. But the sharing of the link does indicate that Hodgkinson has been affected by the frenzied climate Democrats have stoked around the Russia issue.

    Once again, for extra emphasis: calling attention to the link Hodgkinson shared is not to say that Democrats are directly culpable for this shooting. That would be ridiculous. But the shared link does show that he was to some extent enmeshed in the conspiratorial paranoia that Democrats have knowingly fostered, at full-blast, for approaching an entire year. One ancillary consequence of fostering conspiratorial paranoia for a full year is that certain people with unstable mental predispositions may latch on and commit violent acts. But Democrats and liberals, in their self-assuredness, have been reticent to acknowledge this byproduct of their current political strategy. Proclaiming that the president engaged in treason — as many members of Congress and media figures have — is going to have an influence on the broader public, and included in that broader public are people who might be deranged and/or have violent inclinations.

    If you deny that the kind of overblown rhetoric that Democrats have specialized in over the past months — warning about traitorous subterfuge and foreign infiltration — can have any trickle-down effect on regular people, you’re deluding yourself.

  • It looks like Democrats are learning all the wrong lessons from Jon Ossoff’s loss:

    Democrats want a resistance. They want to impeach the President. They want full-blown socialism. They want to go further to the left than the tea party wanted to go right. A lot of activist Democrats are already interpreting Jon Ossoff’s loss as him not being aggressively anti-Trump enough.

    The Democrat base has moved way further left than where the American public is and at a time we seem to be in a pendulum swing back to the right, that could hurt them. As they start challenging Democrat incumbents with more liberal activists and start winning primaries in swing seats with radical progressives, they risk their ability to win.

    What makes this fun to watch is knowing they reject that idea and think the more radical and more militant the more likely their candidates will win. I cannot wait to watch their slate of moonbat crazy challengers.

  • All those “Ossoff’s loss was a moral victory” excuses? Vox says don’t believe it: “Don’t sugarcoat it — Ossoff’s loss is a big disappointment, and a bad sign, for Democrats. Democrats need to outperform Hillary Clinton to take back the House. Ossoff did worse than her.”
  • As bad as political violence is now, the 1960s and early 1970s were much worse.
  • Phil Montag, technology chairman for the Nebraska Democratic Party, was caught on audio saying he was glad Rep> Steve Scalise (R-LA) was shot and wishing he had died. Make that the ex-technology chairman for the Nebraska Democratic Party. Good. Pink slips seem to be the only thing these people pay attention to. (Hat tip: Gabriel Malor’s Twitter feed.)
  • “A professor at a Connecticut college said he was forced to flee the state after he received death threats for appearing to endorse the idea that first responders to last week’s congressional shooting should have let the victims ‘f**king die’ instead of treating them.” Step right up, Trinity College Professor Johnny Eric Williams! You’re the next contestant on “Trump Derangement Syndrome Ruined My Life!”
  • And speaking of Democrats losing it, “Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz accused ex-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson of lying under oath when he said the DNC refused the help of the DHS in their hacking scandal.”
  • “This May was the Democratic National Committee’s worst May of fundraising since 2003. The DNC raised $4.29 million in May of this year, according to data recently released by the Federal Election Commission. It is the weakest take for national Democrats since May of 2003, when the party raised a paltry $2.7 million.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Did 5.7 million illegal aliens vote in 2008? (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • President Trump follows through on his campaign promise to kill deferred action for illegal alien parents, AKA DAPA.
  • TPPF’s Chris Jacobs is not impressed with the Republican Senate ObamaCare replacement bill. TPPF’s Chip Roy said:

    Simply put, the bill doubles down on the fundamentally flawed architecture of Obamacare and if implemented, will neither increase the actual care available to the people nor drive down the cost of care or insurance. It maintains Obamacare’s subsidy regime, retains almost the entirety of the regulatory architecture driving up people’s premiums and deductibles, continues the previous Administration’s unconstitutional bailouts to insurers, and maintains the Medicaid expansion for five more years before slowly attempting to reform the program.

  • More on the same subject: “Top Ten Ways Senate Obamacare Bill Is #FakeRepeal.”
  • ObamaCare tweet:

  • Liberal lawyer Alan Dershowitz states that Presidnet Trump’s tape bluff is perfectly legal. “What President Trump did was no different from what prosecutors, defense attorneys, policemen, FBI agents and others do every day in an effort to elicit truthful testimony from mendacious witnesses.” Also: “We must declare an armistice against using our criminal justice system as a political weapon in what has become a zero-sum bloodsport.”
  • Saudi king replaces crown prince with his own son.
  • Saudis foil Iranian sabotage attack on their offshore oilfields.
  • “Trump Imposes New Sanctions on Russia Over Ukraine.” Insert record scratch sound over derailment of the “Trump is Putin’s stooge” narrative here. Oh, also, New York Times: When you invade, occupy and annex territory, it’s not an “incursion,” it’s an “invasion.”
  • Helmut Kohl, the chancellor who oversaw German reunification, dead at age 87. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Remember all those “refugees” Angela Merkel invited in? “Up to three quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Trump Administration Begins to Dismantle Obama Campus Rape Tribunals.” Good.
  • “CENTCOM confirms Islamic State’s ‘Grand Mufti’ killed in airstrike…Turki al-Bin’ali was killed in a May 31 airstrike in Mayadin, Syria.”
  • Amazon buying Whole Foods ties into their overall strategy of high fixed costs and returns to scale.
  • Alternate view: Amazon buying Whole Foods is this cycle’s AOL/Time Warner merger.
  • East Lansing, Michigan punishes man for daring to express pro-Christian thoughtcrime on Facebook.
  • “The amount of labor that once bought 54 minutes of light now buys 52 years of light. The cost has fallen by a factor of 500,000 and the quality of that light has transformed from unstable and risky to clean, safe, and controllable.”
  • The year-by-year descent into airline hell. But: More people are flying than ever before, and airlines are actually profitable. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Man almost dies after getting swept away by a river while hiking, learns important survival lessons. (Hat tip: Ann Althouse.)
  • Harvard introduces segregated commencement ceremony for black students. next up: Their own water fountains.
  • “A mentally ill homeless woman in Florida is accused of vandalizing a policeman’s patrol car and smearing feces on a church where she left the walls defaced with nonsensical writings against ‘patriarchy.'”
  • F-35 puts on an impressive demonstration at the Paris Air Show. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • F-16 catches fire at Houston airport.
  • The meaning of Bill Cosby’s hung jury:

    The extraordinarily high prosecutorial burden of proof in any criminal trial is intentionally designed to heavily favor defendants, because we long ago embraced as a society Blackstone’s principle. Formulated in the seventeen-sixties by the English jurist William Blackstone, the presumption is that it is better to have ten guilty people go free than that one innocent person suffer. Hard as it is to stomach today, embracing that calculus means that we should even want ten rapists (not to mention terrorists and murderers) to go free in order to protect the one falsely accused. Unfortunately, Cosby is one of those to escape criminal punishment. And, to put a fine point on the over-all gendered impact of requiring proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the inevitable effect of the heavy tilt toward defendants is that in sexual-assault trials, which involve mostly male defendants and mostly female accusers, men are favored over women.

    What works in Bill Cosby’s favor also works in Bill Clinton’s favor… (Hat tip: Christina Hoff Summers’ Twitter feed.)

  • 15 companies that made great games that still went bust. Spoiler: The phrase “bought by EA” appears a lot.
  • Colin Kaepernick seems to have decided that his career is indeed over. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Whipped cream fatality.
  • And that gives me the thinnest of possible justifications to post this classic:

  • LinkSwarm for March 3, 2017

    Friday, March 3rd, 2017

    Welcome to another Friday LinkSwarm! (On a personal note, if you know of any technical writing positions here in the Austin area, please let me know.)

  • U.S. troops in Iraq finally get to enjoy sane rules of engagement. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • George Soros-funded group is providing scripts for those “spontaneous” town hall protests. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • For many Democrats, President Trump’s joint address was the first time they actual heard and saw him unfiltered. “He just crushed the Drive-By [Media] last night. He just crushed them. He just blew up every narrative they’ve established on the guy. And they don’t even realize it.”
  • “As one might imagine given the Democrats’ breathtaking electoral collapse, there is basically nothing but bad news for Democrats across the board. The data showed that the voting patterns of key demographic groups shifted dramatically downward from 2008 through 2016.” More: “Contrary to the emerging Democratic majority thesis, there does not seem to be any demographic category with which Democrats are progressively improving.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Maine: Want to work for a living? Welfare recipient: Nah! Maine: Well then, I guess you won’t be needing these food stamps.
  • Man arrested for making threats to Jewish groups is a Bernie Bro and former reporter for The Intercept. Bonus 1: His Twitter page calls capitalists “bloodsuckers.” Gee, that rhetoric seems familiar somehow… Bonus 2: This is hot on the heels of another Intercept writer poo-pooing the idea that Democrats might be targeting Jews.
  • “The Congressional Review Act of 1996 is a ‘sleeper statute’ (aka, a secret weapon) in that its practical application took 20 years to enter the realm of viable possibility. The CRA allows Congress to overturn executive regulations by a simple majority—and this is the moment it’s been waiting for.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • TBS guy at CPAC asks DA Tech Guy to help him make fake news.(Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • No. Just no. And how come SMONE ELSE isn’t running away with the race?
  • “Trump Was Right: Large Amounts of Actionable Intelligence Found in Yemen Raid.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Leading French Presidential candidate Francois Fillon investigated for paying his own family “€1m ($1.05m) of public money for allegedly fake jobs.”
  • Geert Wilders’ party is poised to win the most votes in Dutch elections March 15. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Members of an elite Baltimore Police Department squad charged with getting guns off the streets gets hit with federal racketeering charges and held for trial without bail. More: “In one case, four of the officers are alleged to have stolen $200,000 from a safe and bags and a watch valued at $4,000. In July 2016, three officers conspired to impersonate a federal officer in order to steal $20,000 in cash.” (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Apple Board Member Al Gore makes $29 million in profit selling Apple stock.
  • Authenticity is bunk. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Help me Watergate, you’re my only hope!

    The NYT and the Washington Post have a motivation to ally with the Democratic Party in its last-ditch effort to Watergatize Trump after Trump’s endless criticisms of them. And this anti-Trump approach may get them a spike in readership, even as it repels some readers like me.

    I’m missing the sense that I’m getting the normal news. It seems unfair and shoddy not to cover the President the way you’d cover any President. What looks like an effort to stigmatize Trump as not normal has — to my eyes — made the media abnormal.

    Snip.

    The more seemingly normal Trump becomes — as with his speech to Congress the other day — the more the anti-Trump approach of the news media feels like a hackish alliance with the Democratic Party in its sad, negative, backward-looking effort to disrupt the President the people elected.

  • Have any of my friends lost a gun transiting Austin Bergstrom Airport? If so, a baggage handler may have stole your gun to trade for pot.

    Austin police have charged Matthew Bartlett, 21, and Catronn Hewitt, 36, with felony possession of marijuana, police said in a news release.

    Ja’Quan Johnson, 25, was charged with federal charges in connection with the thefts. Johnson is a contract baggage handler at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and is believed to have been behind the thefts, according to police and the Justice Department.

    Buying pot? Likely misdemeanor charge. But stealing guns from airport luggage is likely an interstate federal gun trafficking felony. Also: Our airport security is in the best of hands!

  • Houston Chronicle to move its call center from the Philippines to Dallas. 1. Who thought it was a good idea to move it to the Philippines in the first place? 2. “The move will result in 130 new jobs for Texas.” Why does the Chronicle need 130 people in its call center? 3. Dallas? Really? Because it’s evidently impossible to locate a call center in the 4th largest city in America…
  • SEC charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton dismissed. A state felony trail is pending, but given that the state charges are based on the same issue as the SEC case just dismissed, chances of a conviction would appear to be very slim. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Trump Derangement Syndrome in La La Land.
  • How was I to know/She was with the Russians too?

  • Speaking of which:

  • Indeed, “Russia!” is now the go-to move for the media the same way a bad video game player will just use the same button combination over and over again:

  • Happiest stinkiest place in the world. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio flew eyebrow artist 7,500 miles to do his brows for the Oscars. (Hat tip: Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.)
  • Insecure Mongo DB run by toy company hit with ransomware.
  • Ever wanted Mickey Spillane’ typewriter or his World War II uniform? Now’s your chance. I already put in a bid on Spillane’s concealed gun permit…
  • Video of French Forces Fighting the Islamic State

    Saturday, February 11th, 2017

    Here’s a video of French Special Forces operating against the Islamic State, including some mopping up operations in Mosul:

    A few points of interest:

  • In the first few minutes there’s a glimpse of the tunnel systems that have become common in urban warfare where the defenders have had time to dig in.
  • I’m assuming that boxy weapon the French are shown setting up at 5:27 is a grenade launcher, but I’m not sure I’ve seen that make before. The closest would be the Heckler & Koch GMG, but it doesn’t quite look like it.
  • French drones (6:13) look like funky kit planes, and get launched with a tether assist. Whatever works…
  • What’s Happening in the War Against The Islamic State?

    Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

    The twists and turns of the election, Hillary’s corruption, liberal derangement over Trump’s triumph, etc. have pushed a lot of other news stories onto the back-burner.

    One of the big ones being: What the hell is happening in the war against the Islamic State?

    It looks like I’m not the only one to have taken my eye off the ball. Back when Bush was President, there was heavy mainstream media reporting on conflicts in the Middle East. But ever since Obama’s Iraq pullout engendered the rise of the Islamic State, American reporting on the conflict has been (at best) sporadic.

    Which is why I was surprised to see reports that Kurdish-led fighters were closing in on the Islamic State’s de-facto capital of Raqqa:

    As the Mosul offensive drags into its second month, another fight is raging 450km to the west around Islamic State’s de facto capital at Raqqa, on the Euphrates River in northern Syria. The battle is already a tragedy for Raqqa’s 320,000 civilians, who’ve suffered under brutal Islamic State occupation for more than three years. Many have fled, with thousands crowding into already overflowing refugee camps since the latest fighting began, and others fleeing across the hills towards the Iraqi border even as night-time temperatures plunge below freezing. Their lives, like those of families still in the city, are about to get even harder.

    The battle for Raqqa will shape the Syrian war throughout the coming year. Though smaller than the vast offensive around Mosul, it will be even more significant. It may decide the fate of Islamic State’s “caliphate” in Syria and will set the tone for the incoming Trump administration’s dealings with Turkey and Russia, two critical relationships that will drive events in the region and beyond.

    During a visit to the Middle East last week, I spoke to Syrian, Kurdish, Iraqi and American leaders involved in the campaign. They told me that while the military offensive is progressing about as well as anyone expected, the politics are proving characteristically complex.

    The troops fighting Islamic State in Raqqa come from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a rebel coalition backed by the US, among other countries. SDF units have received a stream of weapons, training and advisers since last year. Supported by coalition airstrikes, they attacked Raqqa early last month, timing the offensive (known as Operation Euphrates Wrath) to coincide with the Mosul assault, to stop Islamic State shifting reinforcements between fronts.

    The SDF has achieved considerable battlefield success. In the past month it has cleared 600sq km of rural terrain in Raqqa province, recapturing 45 villages and expelling hundreds of Islamic State fighters. Many recovered settlements are ruined, however, their populations massacred or driven off by Islamic State, or bombed out by Bashar al-Assad’s regime in previous fighting.

    The frontline sits just north of Raqqa city, in Ayn Issa district, where heavy combat (including coalition airstrikes called in by observers on the ground) has killed as many as 200 Islamic State fighters in the past two weeks.

    In the same timeframe, SDF spokesmen announced the recapture of the towns of Hazima, al-Taweelah and Tel al-Samman, north and west of Raqqa, bringing the SDF main force within 25km of the city’s outskirts, with reconnaissance teams pushing forward to the edge of town.

    Islamic State resistance is increasing as SDF advances, and most commanders expect a ferocious fight against a determined enemy once they reach the fortified downtown area.

    As the investment of Mosul has been going on for weeks, the battle for Raqqa will probably be at least equally slow and grinding, especially given the difficulties inherent in managing a diverse force of various factions:

    More than 25,000 SDF members — by far the largest faction in a force of about 30,000 — come from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the affiliated Women’s Protection Units (YPJ, an all-female combat brigade of 7000 troops). SDF also includes a few hundred Arab fighters from the Shammari tribal confederation, plus an Assyrian Christian militia and a small ethnic Turkmen force. The Shammari have a longstanding blood feud with Islamic State, which has massacred their men and boys and enslaved women and girls as it seeks to intimidate tribes in its region of influence. Christians and Turkmen are fighting for survival against Islamic State, which has engaged in genocidal slaughter against both groups wherever it has gained control. There also is a small secular nationalist force drawn from regime military defectors, the Free Officers Union. But these are minorities, perhaps 15 per cent altogether, in an alliance that is overwhelmingly Kurdish.

    Evidently the fighting is going poorly enough for the Islamic State that their spokesman urged their own soldiers not to flee Raqqa and Mosul. (That would be their new spokesman, the old one having been removed from office by a Hellfire missle.)

    There’s also indications that the Iraqi forces closing in on Mosul have cut off escape routes for Islamic State fighters, though Islamic State forces just launched a counterattack.

    Some have suggested that the Islamic State is preparing to retreat to a desert stronghold, in Wilayat al-Furat near the Iraq-Syrian border if it’s ejected from both Raqqa and Mosul. (This, as far as I can figure, is about where it is.)

    isis-desert-fortress

    More far afield, Libyan militias backed by American airstrikes said they have cleared Sirte, the stronghold of the Islamic State in Libya.

    One thing that may be making battlefield progress against the Islamic State possible: Cheap oil prices. Without excess petrodollars to spend, the Islamic State’s backers on the Arabian peninsula (not to mention Anatolia) may not have the spare cash to prop up their miniature caliphate.

    That said, the war against the Islamic State is far from over, and expected it to drag on into the Trump Presidency.

    Mad Dog Mattis Tidbits

    Monday, December 5th, 2016

    Now that President-elect Donald Trump has officially nominated retired Marine Corps General James Norman “Mad Dog” Mattis as his Secretary of Defense, here’s a roundup of some Mattis links:

  • How Mattis approached counterinsurgency operations in Anbar province.
  • How the Obama Administration pushed out four of the most gifted generals of their generation: “David Petraeus, Stanley McChrystal, John Allen, and James Mattis.”
  • Brief Forbes overview of Mattis, including the tidbit that “as the military moved him about the globe he travelled with a library reports say was about 7,000 books.” A man after my own heart…
  • Indeed, he penned a letter scoffing at the idea of being too busy to read.
  • Here’s seven memorable Mattis quotes. Like this advice to Iraqi tribal leaders: “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f*** with me, I’ll kill you all.” (Note: At least a couple of those quotes have been around longer than Mattis.)
  • No wait, here’s the 16 best quotes from Mattis, with some overlap. “Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.”
  • A swell General Mattis Christmas story. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Heh:

    (Hat Tip: Dwight.)