Posted tagged ‘Baiji’

US praises role of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Baiji operation

October 22, 2015

US praises role of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Baiji operation, Long War Journal, October 22, 2015

Over the past several days, US officials have celebrated the capture of Baiji from the Islamic State. While doing so, they have praised the role that Iranian-supported Shiite militias have played in capturing the strategic central Iraqi city. These are the same militias that are responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers just a few years ago, and many of these militia leaders are listed as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Additionally, the US is continuing to provide air support to aid these groups.

Both the US military and the Obama administration’s Deputy Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (the outdated acronym for the Islamic State) issued statements that praised the role the Shiite militias played in recapturing Baiji.

Brett McGurk, the Deputy Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL [another acronym for the Islamic State], tweeted that the “US commends progress by Iraqi Security Forces and popular mobilization forces [emphasis ours] against ISIL terrorists in Baiji.” He also confirmed that the US has launched around 130 airstrikes in support of these groups since August.

McGurk’s plaudits for the role that the “popular mobilization forces” have played in Baiji was echoed by the US military, which called these units “Shiia [sic] security forces.”

Army Major Mike Filanowski, an officer in the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), said that “The people who did the heavy lifting [in Baiji] were the Iraqi special forces.” He continued by saying, “they not only secured the [Baiji] oil refinery, but also the power plant to the north all the way up to the al-Fatah Bridge.” While the Iraqi special forces did help capture the refinery, they were not the only forces doing the “heavy lifting.”

The Department of Defense press release that quoted Filanowski admitted that the Popular Mobilization Committee (also called Popular Mobilization Units or Popular Mobilization Forces), was conducting operations.

“In the last three days, a special operations team from the elite Counterterrorism Service spearheaded the attack,” the DoD statement said. “The team worked with Iraqi army soldiers, Popular Mobilization Front forces — essentially Shiia security forces — and federal police” [emphasis ours].

So while the US commends the Iraqi Security Forces and the Popular Mobilization Committee, it is also lauding designated terrorists and a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Popular Mobilization Committee is led by Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, a former commander in the Badr Organization who was listed by the US government as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in July 2009. The US government described Muhandis, whose real name is Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, as “an advisor to Qassem Soleimani,” the commander of the Qods Force, the external operations wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

The Iranian-backed Shiite militias that played a prominent role in the assault on Baiji include: Asa’ib al Haq (League of the Righteous), whose leader Qais al Khazali is thought to be involved in the murder of five US soldiers in Karbala in 2007; Hezbollah Brigades, which is listed as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US government; Harakat al Nujaba, which recently called for the expulsion of US troops from Iraq; Harakat al Nujaba, which is led by Akram Abbas al Kaabi, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist; Kata’ib Imam Ali, led by Shebl al Zaydi, who is close to Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani; Kata’ib Sayyid al Shuhada, which is commanded by Mustafa al Sheibani, who is also a Specially Designated Global Terrorist; and Badr Corps, another large militia supported by Iran. For more information the role these militias played in the retaking of Baiji, including photographs and video of Iraqi forces operating alongside these militias, see LWJ report, Iraqi Army, Shiite militias report success in Baiji.

Sadly, this behavior by US officials is nothing new. Earlier this year, General (retired) John Allen, the former Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, claimed that the US is only supporting so-called moderate Shiite militas, and not the “extremist elements.” Allen’s statement is below:

With regard to militias, it’s really important to understand that the militias are not just a single monolithic entity. There are the militias that you and I are used to hearing that have close alignments with Iran. Those are the extremist elements, and we don’t have anything to do with that. But there are elements of the Shia militias that volunteered last year to try to defend Iraq from the onslaught of Daesh [Islamic State] who were called to arms by Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and those elements, or the Popular Mobilization Force, as they are known, have been subordinated to the Iraqi higher military campaign or command. And they will provide maneuver capacity and additional firepower to the Iraqi Security Forces as we continue to build them out, as we continue to build the professionalization of the Iraqi forces.

So the fact that militias are involved and tribes are involved in this part of the campaign, this part of the implementation of supporting Iraq ultimately to recover the country, should not alarm us. We just need to ensure that we manage the outcome of this. Prime Minister Abadi’s been clear that these organizations within the Popular Mobilization Force, the Shia volunteers, will eventually either transition into the security forces themselves or go home. That’s the solution that he intends and I think that that’s a supportable outcome. So for now – this goes back to the point that you made about urgency – urgency is an important factor here in helping us to focus on supporting the Iraqis, the tribes, and the Popular Mobilization Force to take those actions necessary to defeat Daesh locally.

Allen said that the fact that the US is supporting the Popular Mobilization Committee “should not alarm us.” Except it should alarm us. Because as we detailed, the organization’s operational leader is a Specially Designated Terrorist, and its most effective militias are Iranian pawns that are responsible for killing hundreds of US soldiers and remain openly hostile to the US.

ISIS attacks Ramadi: It’s way worse than we’re being told

April 17, 2015

ISIS attacks Ramadi: It’s way worse than we’re being told, Alanbwest.com, Allen West, April 17, 2015

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[T]ens of thousands are fleeing Ramadi, the largest city in Anbar province of some half a million — the city lies 100 miles from Baghdad. And ISIS has also launched an attack on the major oil refinery city of Baiji, just north of Tikrit. Could it be that ISIS conducted a very well planned and executed deception plan to make Iraqi Security Forces and their Iranian allies focus on Tikrit, while they focused their offensive operations elsewhere? If so, it’s a brilliant operational level ruse.

But there is an even more important question — how did ISIS do this without any detection? How did they reposition their force — in open desert — and no one saw it? This is a direct reflection of the intelligence failure of the so-called Obama coalition.

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One of the best lessons I learned in my years of service in the military is a quote often share with y’all: “the enemy has a vote.”

You can try and sell the American people — and others — a politicized line such as “al-Qaida has been decimated and destroyed” or “we have reached the framework of a deal with Iran” or “ISIS is not Islamic,” but the bad guys are not affected by empty rhetoric.

And here we go again with the Obama administration and the conflagration against Islamic terrorism. We’ve been told that ISIS has stalled. Their recruiting is low and they’re demoralized – by the way, what is up with the Ohio man just arrested after returning from Syria and training with ISIS?

The Daily Beast, not exactly a conservative outlet, reports, “ISIS is reportedly marching on the key Iraqi city of Ramadi—upending the momentum the U.S.-led military coalition seemed to have just days ago, and threatening to shatter an already delicate recent power shift that both the U.S. and Iraq hoped to exploit.

“Until Wednesday’s reports about Ramadi both U.S. and Iraqi officials were examining what effects ISIS’s recent losses could have in future battles. The officials were even talking about where they would take down ISIS next. During his visit to Washington, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi suggested in an interview Wednesday with reporters that his troops could move on both Anbar Province—where Ramadi in the local capital—and the oil-rich city of Baiji.

But that was before, according to residents, three cities near Ramadi fell into ISIS hands. Hours later, area security forces reportedly asked for more support from the central government to retain control of the city. Pentagon officials stopped short of saying the city was on the brink of falling. But they didn’t sound confident it would hold, either.

“The situation in Ramadi remains fluid and, as with earlier assessments, the security situation in the city is contested. The ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] continue to conduct clearing operations against ISIL-held areas in the city and in the surrounding areas of Al Anbar province,” U.S. Central Command spokesman Army Major Curt Kellogg said in a statement, using the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS. The coalition continues to coordinate with ISF forces and provide operational support as requested.”

The truth is, tens of thousands are fleeing Ramadi, the largest city in Anbar province of some half a million — the city lies 100 miles from Baghdad. And ISIS has also launched an attack on the major oil refinery city of Baiji, just north of Tikrit. Could it be that ISIS conducted a very well planned and executed deception plan to make Iraqi Security Forces and their Iranian allies focus on Tikrit, while they focused their offensive operations elsewhere? If so, it’s a brilliant operational level ruse.

But there is an even more important question — how did ISIS do this without any detection? How did they reposition their force — in open desert — and no one saw it? This is a direct reflection of the intelligence failure of the so-called Obama coalition.

However, let me digress for a moment and consider the effect this is having on those brave and courageous men and women who just a decade ago bled, sacrificed, lost limbs, and died in order to drive the enemy out of Ramadi.

Can you imagine what it is doing to them to hear this news — of course it appears that President Obama cares little. His campaign promise was more important than acknowledging the enemy has a vote. His defiance would not allow him to admit that he was wrong and that our men and women who DID serve with honor and distinction defeated the enemy, al-Qaida in Iraq. The emotional scars run deep, and sadly the person inflicting the damage and reopening wounds resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

During a Senate Armed Services hearing Chairman John McCain, a former combat fighter pilot, asked an astonishing question — which those of us in the know, knew. How many total sorties have been flown since last August when we announced the air campaign against ISIS? The answer is approximately 12,000. How many of these sorties have dropped weapons (munitions)? The answer was 3,000. When queried, the new Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, explained that the problem is that we don’t have G-FACs (Ground- Forward Air Controllers) on the ground. As well, it appears we don’t have intelligence gathering capability. ISIS is not being pushed back. They are on the offense, and how can that be happening?

Not only in Iraq, but in Yemen, where President Obama stated last September that this was a shining example of success. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has taken over a vital airfield, port, and oil facility. And if you haven’t been paying attention, Americans are fleeing the country by whatever means they can find. Right now they are escaping on boats to Dijbouti. For those of you who aren’t aware, the U.S. Marine Corps always has a regional force afloat called a Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) — MEU(SOC). One of their mission sets is called NEO – Non Combatant Evacuation Order — which is where they coordinate with the local embassy to extricate Americans from a hostile country. Remember, ARG/MEU (Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit) was sitting off the coast of Yemen, but the Obama administration ordered our embassy evacuated as the Marines destroyed their weapons and flew out on Oman Air.

I know, you’re saying, why should I care? You think I’m just complaining and running my mouth. I believe the same was said of one Winston Churchill whilst the people of England were embracing Neville Chamberlain. The point is that the enemy is being emboldened and domestic prosperity means nothing when planes fly into buildings. The redistribution of wealth will mean little when someone shouts “Allahu Akhbar” and guns down American troops in America. Income inequality will not be a pressing issue if another woman is beheaded at her workplace by an Islamist — and it’s just dismissed.

We are suffering from the sickness of soundbite mentality and as the Taliban says, “you may have watches but we have the time.”

We have an administration that is lying to us and refuses to confront a very threatening enemy. The last time such a maniacal threat was disregarded — well, millions lost their lives. I pray that a catastrophic event does not have to occur to wake us up — but it seems we are on that road. This is not about bravado, it is about making a stand to defeat Islamo-fascism and its spawn, terrorism and jihadism. And let us not forget that meanwhile Vladimir Putin lurks in the dark places and China slowly extends its regional hegemony.

Remember, peace through strength.

Two More Iraqi Cities At Risk Of Falling Into ISIS Control – John McCain – America’s Newsroom

April 17, 2015

Two More Iraqi Cities At Risk Of Falling Into ISIS Control – John McCain – America’s Newsroom, via You Tube, April 17, 2015