Posted tagged ‘Siani’

Sisi asks Obama for military intervention to save Egypt from ISIS

March 28, 2016

Sisi asks Obama for military intervention to save Egypt from ISIS, DEBKAfile, March 28, 2016

Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi has sent a secret missive to President Barack Obama asking for urgent US military intervention in support of Egypt’s war on the Islamist State in Sinai, before the jihadis pose a real threat to Cairo. DEBKAfile’s exclusive intelligence and counterterrorism sources report that El-Sisi has come to the conclusion that Egyptian army lacks the ability to eradicate the terrorist peril without direct US military support.

In his note, he asks Washington to replicate in Sinai the format of US intervention in the war on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, namely, to send in special operations forces to establish bases and operate drones against jihadist targets. Unless stopped, he warns, the Islamic State is on the point of transforming the Sinai Peninsula into its primary forward base in the Middle East, bolstered by its branches of terror across North Africa, especially in Libya. US intervention is necessary to avert this.

So far, Sisi has received no answer from the White House and no sign of one in the pipeline.

Our military sources note that, given his record as former defense minister and a much-decorated general in the Egyptian army, an appeal to a foreign power for military assistance is out of character and would normally be found unacceptable in his own milieu. It must therefore be seen as a sign of extreme distress over Cairo’s failure to vanquish – or even contain ISIS, which now poses a strategic threat to Egypt proper.

In this situation, the generals in Cairo were dismayed to read a New York Timesleader on March 25, captioned “Time to Rethink US relationship with Egypt,” which faults the Egyptian regime’s human rights record and suggests that the relationship does Washington more harm than good.

The NYT concludes by saying, “Over the next few months, the president should start planning the possibility of a break in the alliance with Egypt. That scenario appears increasingly necessary.”

Since this article appeared out of the blue, it is feared in Cairo that it is President Obama’s way of spurring the Egyptian president’s SOS.

Some high-ranking military figures in Cairo have started talking about alternatives: If Washington refuses to come up with military assistance for fighting the Islamic State, perhaps the time has time to go elsewhere.
An Egyptian appeal to Moscow cannot be ruled out.

 

ISIS Wages Brutal War in Egyptian Sinai

March 2, 2016

ISIS Wages Brutal War in Egyptian Sinai, Clarion Project, March 2, 2016

Islamic-State-Sinai-CheeringHPIslamic-State terrorist in the Sinai (Photo: Video screenshot from an Islamic State propaganda video)

The people of el-Arish were stunned this week when a caravan of SUVs drove up to the central square in the Egyptian Sinai town. Masked men emerged from the vehicles, shooting wildly into the air to make their presence known. Leading two captives, cowering under the terrorists, they immediately threw one of them on the ground, slaughtering him with a knife and then beheaded him.

The other captive was summarily shot in the head.

Civilians, shocked and terrified, began screaming. Blood was everywhere. But the Egyptian army and police – whose stations are located close by — were nowhere to be found.

The gunmen drove off, disappearing to an unknown location as quickly as they arrived. Eyewitness said many bystanders called the army and police during the event through an emergency hotline, but the only reply they received was from the hospital ambulance services, who said they were not allowed to take the bodies from the streets because they had not received instructions from the police.

The corpses remained in the square until 6 am the next morning at which time, the people took them themselves to the hospital morgue. Chaos ensued when the hospital refused to take possession as the bodies had not arrive in an ambulance.

Only after the gathering crowd threatened to ransack the hospital did they relent.

The victims were identified as Radi el-Bareeki, 43, a builder and contractor who was beheaded, and his son Suleiman, 17. The Bareekis were from the village of Charisa in the central Sinai. They had taken refuge in el-Arish after they were threatened by the Islamic State in Sinai (Wilyat-Sinai) for spying on the group for the Egyptian security forces.

Ten days earlier, the terror group published on social media the executions of two civilians also accused of spying for the security forces.

In the terror-laden Sinai, el-Arish was known as a safe haven which, until this latest event, had escaped the clutches of the brutal group.

“The Islamic State Sinai is one of the most brutal insurgent, terrorist and extremist groups. Considering their intentions to expand into Africa, IS Sinai presents an unprecedented threat not only to the security and stability of the Middle East but to Africa as well,” Rohan Gunaratna, author of Inside al Qaeda and international terrorism expert told Clarion Project.

“With its far reaching expertise, IS Sinai will build its capabilities among like-minded groups both in North Africa and in the Sahel. Before IS Sinai’s influence and capabilities spread further, they should be contained, isolated and eliminated. Otherwise, IS Sinai will destabilize Egypt, the pivotal state linking Africa and the Middle East,” he added.

This video shows images of ISIS reportedly aiming rockets at el-Arish airport:

The Inside Track From Israel’s Gaza Border Defenders

January 21, 2016

The Inside Track From Israel’s Gaza Border Defenders, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Paul Alster, January 21, 2016

1339Photos courtesy of IDF Spokesperson.

Like it or not, the Iran nuclear deal is done. In much of the Middle East, defense officials in many states believe that a sizeable proportion of the soon-to-be released $100 billion Iranian windfall will be directed toward funding proxy armies of the Islamic Republic, for whom the Jewish state remains the prime target. Israel’s focus is now, more than ever, on defense and surveillance.

In the north, Hizballah, Iran’s proxy Lebanese army, remains a massive threat to regional stability, siding with Syria’s disgraced President Bashar Assad and his saviors from Russia. In Gaza, it is no secret that a previous rift between Iran and Hamas has been smoothed over to further mutual objectives and that another, and possibly more brutal round of hostilities between Israel and Hamas may not be far away.

“The sanctions relief and the nuclear deal with Iran represent a strategic shift that the IDF will have to tackle over the next decade,” Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said Monday in a speech at the INSS conference in Tel Aviv. “We also see [Iran’s] attempt to influence Arab Israelis and those in the Gaza Strip, and the estimation is that as Iran’s economic situation improves, over the next one-to-two years, it will divert considerably more resources into opposing Israel, via the Iranian military industry.”

Last week, the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) saw first-hand the situation on Israel’s south-western border, meeting with a senior IDF source who cannot be identified for security reasons. Close to the Kerem Shalom border crossing, where Israel oversees the transfer of many hundreds of tons of goods and supplies every day into Gaza,  we scrambled up a sizeable sand dune that offered a panoramic view of the situation on the ground toward the closed Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza.

“We hear the explosions and the fighting [against the Islamists] on the Egyptian side. The Egyptian army is taking it seriously,” the senior IDF source explained as we looked across the triangular border junction and heard distant noises, apparently explosions. “We hear this every day. Terrorists continue to try to cross from Egypt into Gaza.”

Minutes later, a text message announced that the Keren Shalom crossing suddenly had been closed. It turned out that the Egyptian army reportedly engaged and killed 13 jihadists  just a couple of miles away. Two days earlier, an attempt to breach the Israel-Gaza border fence and plant an IED resulted in an Israeli airstrike reportedly eliminating a member of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

Meanwhile, Hamas continues to test fire rockets into the sea, and in recent months other Islamic militants in Gaza sporadically lob rockets toward Israel. On the other side of the border triangle, Egypt is doing its best to keep a lid on ISIS and other Islamist forces in the Sinai Peninsula.

It’s clear that relations between the Israeli and Egyptian militaries are good, a dangerous common enemy helping to focus minds. Under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt (despite a lack of support from the United States), has taken the fight to the terror organizations, often at a significant cost in Egyptian military lives. The horrific October downing of the Russian passenger jet out of Sharm el-Sheikh brought the scale of the task facing Egypt into focus. Israel remains alert for the jihadists turning their attention and firepower from Sinai, but for now believes that Gazan-based terror poses its most immediate threat.

“It’s been quite quiet with Hamas [since the 2014 Protective Edge war], but they don’t keep quiet for long,” the IDF source said. “We’re not looking for a fight – we have an interest that there will be quiet here – but if we have to deal with Hamas, this time we’ll deal with them properly.”

Many Israelis were dismayed when Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in 2014 without a ceasefire, some criticism coming notably from members of the left-wing opposition and media for allowing Hamas off the hook when many believed it was in utter disarray. Now, despite ongoing attempts to stem the flow of weapons, reports suggest Hamas is rebuilding fast and may have some surprises in store for Israel if there’s another round of fighting.

“Look, we’re quite certain they are still building tunnels,” the official said, planting his heel in the sand and showing how easy it is to dig. “And yes, I’m sure they have new weapons – anti-tank, anti-aircraft etc. Like us, they will want to be better next time, but we understand more. The reality is different. We’re learning all the time what is going in Gaza. The army is always preparing for the war to come and [Hamas] won’t meet the same thing as in [Protective Edge].”

While Israeli soldiers and advanced technology such as its Guardium unmanned patrol vehicles are the first line of defense – the IDF indicated last year that the development of underground tunnel detection systems is also a priority project – the eyes of the military are actually in special units of female soldiers, known as the tazpitanyot. They monitor all movements, looking for suspicious activity, known terror operatives, and attempts to breach the border.

1340 (2)

They work in a series of non-descript trailers and shipping containers belying the fact that inside are massed banks of video screens and radar images, and the ability to combine pictures filmed from aerial blimps with other cameras – both day and night vision. This arrangement allows operatives to zoom in and see Gazans as far as a mile from the border fence.

When anything, or anyone suspicious pops up, there are pictures of ‘Wanted’ terror suspects close to the screens.  They instruct the on-the-ground forces to investigate. Never averting their gaze from the screen during a four-hour shift, each soldier has been trained to identify every landmark, tree, or rock within her specific area of surveillance. “If there’s even a single branch missing from a tree, they’ll spot it” the women’s commanding officer said. They also have remote control of the machine guns sited on border watch towers.

No security system is 100 percent foolproof, and during the first two weeks of the last round of fighting, four terror tunnels emerged on the Israeli side, only being detected at the last moment.  In two cases, the IDF fought gun-battles leaving  at least 10 terrorists and six Israeli soldiers dead. Hamas had hoped to kill civilians before luring Israeli soldiers back through the tunnels then kidnapping them or causing mass casualties.

Methods and practices of surveillance are being continually reviewed, but no-one in the Israeli military doubts the tatzpitanyot’s crucial front-line role in its border security, both north and south.

Islamic State ‘province’ bombs hotel in the Sinai

November 24, 2015

Islamic State ‘province’ bombs hotel in the Sinai, Long War Journal, November 24, 2015

Earlier today, the Islamic State’s so-called Sinai “province” attacked a hotel where a number of judges were staying as they oversaw elections. According to initial casualty reports, four people were killed.

Two “martyrdom” operatives were responsible for the assault. One of the two drove a vehicle laden with explosives into the security forces protecting the hotel. The second, armed with an assault weapon and a suicide belt, then followed.

15-11-24-Sinai-province-claims-bombing-at-hote-housing-judges-300x250The Islamic State’s Sinai “province,” which officially joined the “caliphate” in November 2014, quickly posted a statement on social media claiming responsibility. The message, seen on the right, is formatted in the same fashion as most other claims of responsibility issued by the Islamic State’s “provinces,” with white text, a blue body, and a red header. A watermark in the upper right hand corner makes it clear that the statement is on behalf of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s global organization.

The statement was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Interestingly, the group attempts to justify the attack using the same rationale as pro-al Qaeda jihadist groups in Egypt. “This operation comes as a response to the arrest by the apostate Egyptian army of the Muslim women and the insulting of them at the checkpoints of the apostate army,” the claim of responsibility reads, according to SITE’s translation.

This is essentially the same rationale offered by Ajnad Misr (“Soldiers of Egypt”) for some of its terrorist attacks in Cairo and elsewhere. In November 2014, for instance, Ajnad Misr said that it bombed policemen near a university in Cairo after supposedly witnessing female students being harassed and dragged off by security forces.

Ajnad Misr was once part of Ansar Bayt al Maqdis (ABM), which evolved into the Islamic State’s Sinai “province.” But Ajnad Misr did not go along with ABM’s defection to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s camp and refused to swear allegiance to the Islamic State. Ajnad Misr has claimed only a few operations inside Egypt this year.

The Islamic State’s Sinai “province” remains a prolific jihadist force. And its operations further illustrate that there is no firm dividing line between the jihadists’ insurgencies and their ability to carry out high-profile terrorist attacks.

The Islamic State’s branch has repeatedly claimed responsibility for the downing of a Russian airliner on October 31. The first claim of responsibility was issued just hours after the airplane crashed, killing all 224 passengers and crew on board. On several occasions since then, both the Sinai “province” and other parts of the Islamic State’s international network have issued statements and videos saying the “caliphate’s” soldiers were responsible. The latest issue of the English-language Dabiq magazine includes a photo of the bomb that allegedly ripped the plane’s fuselage apart midair.

On November 19, the Sinai “province” released a video tallying the results of its insurgency operations against the Egyptian government. The video was also translated by SITE. The group claimed to have destroyed more than 25 Egyptian military and security vehicles, killed more than 100 members of Egypt’s security forces and taken various spoils between October 14 and November 13. These operations were in addition to the bombing of the Russian airliner.

The figures cited could not be independently verified. Even if the jihadists are exaggerating, however, there is no doubt that the Sinai “province” continues to wage a systematic campaign against Egyptian forces. Dozens of jihadists representing the “caliphate” launched a coordinated assault across the Sinai in early July. The Islamic State arm has launched rockets at Israel, struck an Egyptian naval vessel off of the coast of the Sinai, and hit targets inside Cairo as well.

Amplifying Details on the Sinai Plane Bombing and the Egypt-Libya Nexus

November 7, 2015

Amplifying Details on the Sinai Plane Bombing and the Egypt-Libya Nexus, Independent Strategy and Intelligence Study Group, November 7, 2015

The last few days have been filled with a flurry of information regarding the downing of Flight 7K9268. Within the last 18 hrs we’ve received amplifying information from our sources in the country. Our sources within the Egyptian Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) confirmed that Russian investigators found the remnants of the explosive device we were talking about in our 03 NOV “Sinai Plane Crash Update.” Furthermore, the running theory of those investigators is that depressurization caused by an internal explosion tore off the tail section, causing the plane to flip over and send it to the ground. When we asked one of our sources if 500 grams of C4 could cause that, he answered back that it wouldn’t take much to bring a plane down, especially if the device was placed near the fuel line – which is what DMI assesses to be the case. Another source working with Russia’s Health Ministry Center for Forensic Medical Expertise confirmed that parts of an explosive device was uncovered.

sinai-crash-300x168Source: Associated Free Press/Getty Images (Maxim Grigoryev)

As for the operative who emplaced the device on the plane, we’ve confirmed that the individual did not receive any assistance from a member of the security forces – because he’s a member of the security forces himself. The individual in question used his position to circumvent the 8 explosive detection systems and security checkpoints located at the airport in order to get to his target. DMI knew how this went down fairly quickly, although our sources couldn’t answer how this fell through the cracks, although they did imply that the security forces are plagued with serious internal issues due to the rising insider threat. However, Sharm al-Sheik Airport Chief Abdel-Wahab Ali was removed from his position due to these major security lapses. The fact that the British government aired these very same concerns LAST YEAR made the decision to remove him much easier.

The Latest: Sharm El-Sheikh Airport Chief Has Been Replaced
http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/11/04/world/middleeast/ap-egypt-russian-plane-crash-the-latest.html?_r=0

UK had concerns about Sharm el-Sheikh airport security almost a year ago
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/nov/05/uk-had-concerns-sharm-el-sheikh-airport-security-year-ago-egyptian-beach-resort

Sinai Plane Crash Update
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=9184

IS-Sinai-300x135Islamic State-Sinai (IS-Sinai) aka “Wilayat Sinai (WS)”: Just entered the next stage of Operations. Source: The ISIS Study Group

Adding further weight to what we’ve been saying is that the Black Box reveals that the crash was not an accident. More importantly, the media (and some Western governments) are saying what we first mentioned in our “Sinai Plane Crash Update.” Excerpt:

European investigators who analyzed the two flight recorders from the Metrojet plane that went down last weekend in Egypt are categorically saying the crash is not an accident, CNN affiliate France 2 reported Friday.

The investigators said the cockpit voice recorder of Metrojet Flight 9268 shows an explosion and the flight data recorder confirms the explosion is not accidental — there is no sign of mechanical malfunction during the initial part of the flight, France 2 reported.

Everything is fine during the first 24 minutes, then in a fraction of a second there is a blackout and no more cockpit conversation, convincing investigators there was a bomb on board, according to France 2.

CNN Aviation Analyst Richard Quest said there would have been different data on the black boxes if there was a catastrophic failure than if there was an explosion. The key is what happened just before the data suddenly stops, he said.

“It’s this split second, and it’s a millisecond, where you hear an explosion of some description,” he said. “And you see all the parameters (on the recorders) go haywire before the power is completely lost. If this report is accurate, (investigators) have now analyzed that … heard it and they can identify it.”

If the plane had broken apart due to structural failure, there would have been more noise — and for a longer time, he said.

France’s air accident investigation agency, the BEA, told CNN that Egyptian officials will make an announcement about the crash investigation within the next 24 hours.

Report: Black boxes show bomb brought down Russian jet
http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/06/middleeast/russian-plane-crash-egypt-sinai/

Screen-Shot-2015-11-06-at-6.50.48-PM-300x167

Media now talking about the bomb being placed in the cargo hold among the luggage near the fuel line
Source: CNN

This wasn’t the first time WS gained access to an Egyptian airport either. Last year they recruited an employee at Cairo International Airport who provided Team Baghdadi with schematics of the facility, locations of guard postings and security procedures. Fortunately, DMI found out and arrested him before the attack plan was set into motion – which was the same plan carried out in Sharm al-Sheik. This was one of a long list of incidents – many of which were never reported by the country’s media outlets – that led to GEN Sisi authorizing the DMI to lead the crackdown on the insider threat within the security forces. From MAY 15 – JUL 15 several junior and mid-level officers within the Army were detained for either being sympathizers or full-fledged members of WS. There’s also been an increase in military personnel refusing to carry out missions against WS – not because they’re “scared” – because they “didn’t want to kill their Muslim Brothers” (which is a red flag since most Muslims would never consider IS as their “Muslim Brothers”). For the most part the military has been the main advocate for moderate Islam and secularism. Unfortunately, that all changed when the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi rose to power, where he quickly began to sack “problematic” (read-those of moderate Islam or secular leanings) officers. Then he began to fill the ranks with those he reflected his values – in other words, guys with extremist views. The result was a new breed of officers in the junior and mid-level ranks who were very sympathetic to the ideologies of al-Qaida (of which the MB is closely-aligned) and IS. WS’ increase in capability is a good indicator of the success they’ve had in recruiting personnel with formal military experience (Check out “ISIS-Sinai Beheads Croatian Hostage – Just the Beginning” for additional info).

ISIS-Sinai Beheads Croatian Hostage – Just the Beginning
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8195

mohamed-morsi-300x225Egypt’s insider threat: Morsi’s legacy. Source: Sharif Abdel Minoem (Associated Press)

The bombing of that Russian airliner is the beginning of WS and IS’ Libya affiliate entering into a new phase of Team Baghdadi’s overall global campaign of conducting high-profile attacks outside of Syria and Iraq. WS followed up the plane bombing with another attack targeting an officer’s club that killed three policemen. But that’s just the start – WS fully intends to expand their operations to targeting Russians and Western tourists to both cripple Egypt’s tourism industry (which would result in significant economic damage) and retaliating for Russia’s Syria intervention. The indicators were all there with the sharp increase in the frequency and scale of attacks carried out by WS in Sinai throughout the year and this past summer in particular (Reference – “Sinai Under Siege Rising capabilities of Wilayat Sinai”). That said, the first real indicators of WS’ increased capabilities was seen as early as JAN 14 when they shot down an Egyptian military helicopter in the Sinai with a MANPAD that was traced back to one of the Qaddafi regime weapons depots that was raided by so-called “moderates” during the early days of the “Arab Spring.” In AUG 15 another attempt was made by WS to bring down an aircraft – this time a Thomson Airways airliner – as it was heading to Sharm al-Sheik Airport. Fortunately the pilot was able to perform evasive maneuvers and avoid being brought down (See the Guardian’s article titled, “Sharm el-Sheikh flight from Stansted dodged missile in August” and our initial piece on the Sinai crash, “Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?”).

Egypt: 3 police officers killed in North Sinai bombing
http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/04/africa/egypt-north-sinai-bombing/

Militants Down Egyptian Helicopter, Killing 5 Soldiers
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/world/middleeast/militants-down-egyptian-helicopter-killing-5-soldiers.html

Sharm el-Sheikh flight from Stansted dodged missile in August
http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/nov/06/missed-by-a-1000-feet-how-british-holidaymakers-came-close-to-being-hit-by-a-missile-in-august?CMP=twt_gu

Sinai Under Siege Rising capabilities of Wilayat Sinai (WS)
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7587

Islamic State Claims to Have Shot-Down Russian Plane in Sinai – But Did They?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=9157

WS-July-2015-attack-Sinai-300x169

This is just a quick snapshot of attacks that occurred in JUL 15
Source: The ISIS Study Group

WS also wanted to show Baghdadi that they’re an effective force capable of achieving the objectives of his external operations campaign, but also to justify that their request for additional funding. This was also a bid for obtaining heavier weaponry from IS’ Libya affiliate, who sends weapons and supplies to Syria – some of which goes through Sinai (Check out “The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS,” “2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa” and “The ISIS Expansion Into North Africa” for more details). We don’t think Libyan IS Emir Abu Nail will satisfy that request until after he seizes Darnah – which IS was driven out of back in JUN 15. As of this writing, IS-Libya has been busy consolidating its forces in the al-Fatayeh-area located Southeast of the city. That area is the likely staging-area from which the offensive to retake the town will be launched. The Libyan affiliate is facing a tough fight as they’re forced to take on several other opposition groups of varying jihadist flavors as well as the forces of the Egypt-back Libyan GEN Khalifa Haftar.

For the third time, Haftar’s forces fail to control Derna
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/africa/20744-for-the-third-time-haftars-forces-fail-to-control-derna

Isis in Libya: Islamic State driven out of Derna stronghold by al-Qaeda-linked militia
http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-libya-islamic-state-driven-out-derna-stronghold-by-al-qaeda-linked-militia-1506241

ISIS responsible for most Libya killings: ICC prosecutor
https://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2015/Nov-06/321833-isis-responsible-for-most-libya-killings-icc-prosecutor.ashx

ISIS In Libya? Gadhafi Sirte Residence Searched By Islamic State For Hidden Money: Report
http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-libya-gadhafi-sirte-residence-searched-islamic-state-hidden-money-report-2139456

Warplanes bomb Libya’s Sirte, target Islamic State: witness
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/29/us-libya-security-idUSKCN0SN2JM20151029

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1392

2015: The Year of ISIS Expansion From Gaza to North Africa
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5248

The ISIS Expansion Into North Africa…
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3257

IS’ Libya affiliate is the terror organization’s most-developed branch and has become a critical part of Baghdadi’s vision of being able to project power outside of Syria/Iraq. Its worth noting that the Libya affiliate has been tasked with providing material support to other affiliates in North Africa in addition to WS and the main effort in Syria. WS actually receives a great deal of their financial support from the Libya affiliate. In fact so much influence has been placed on bolstering the Libya affiliate that some foreign fighters have actually been diverted there. Our sources report the presence of fighters from France, Germany, Egypt, Algeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Canada and one unconfirmed report of Americans serving among the ranks. Recent reporting also suggests that a group of Indonesian jihadists are projected to be entering the country for this same purpose – other sources imply that they may have already arrived. Not only is Libya an alternative for foreign fighters who aspire to wage jihad but can’t make the trip to Syria, its a training ground for select personnel who get sent back to their countries of origin to establish their own attack networks and conduct the cell-based external operations that the IS leadership has been transitioning to over the last few months (For more info on this transition to cell-based external OPs, check out “Neil Prakash and Friends – an Update” and “Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe”). Think of it as IS’ way of “diversifying their terror portfolio” for their goal of launching such attacks in the West.

Neil Prakash and Friends – an Update
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8862

The Loss of Key ISIS External OPs Figures and the Anwar al-Awlaqi Battalion
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8467

Nail in the Coffin: ISIS’ Anwar al-Awlaqi BN Sends Fighters to Europe
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8562

With all this happening, what’s next for Vlad? Make no mistake, he’s going to respond – and when he does, people are either going to die or “disappear.” The big mistake the IS mothership in Syria and the Sinai affiliate made is thinking that Vlad is as soft and flaccid as President Obama. They’re going to find out real quick just how big of a mistake they made once he expands his intervention in Syria (although there will be challenges-more on that in another article) followed by enhanced collaboration with the Sisi regime – which has been steadily moving away from America and getting closer to Russia for well over a year (Check out “Egypt Atmospherics” for more details). On the flip side we assess that IS’ Caucasus affiliate (made up mostly of remnants of Imarat Kavkaz or “IK”) are going to become very active in launching attacks inside Russia itself. Although the media seized on the fact that Syria is one of Vlad’s client states, what didn’t get any real coverage are the 2,500-3,000 Russian nationals currently fighting under the IS banner in Syria – many of which are of Chechen/Dagestani/Tajik ethnicity (Reference the following for additional info – “Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength,” “Islamic State’s Expansion into the Caucasus Region,” “Gulmurod Khalimov Update – His Militant Views May Not Be a Recent Development” and “Introducing Tajik Special Police COL Gulmurod Khalimov: Islamic State Defector”). At some point those foreign fighters are going to return to Mother Russia. A few already have. So if you thought this high-profile attack was an “isolated incident” that only affects Egypt, you thought wrong.

Egypt Atmospherics…
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=614

Russia Poised to Increase Military Presence in Middle East in Response to Islamic State’s Strength
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=8416

Islamic State’s Expansion into the Caucasus Region
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6880

Gulmurod Khalimov Update – His Militant Views May Not Be a Recent Development
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7760

Introducing Tajik Special Police COL Gulmurod Khalimov: Islamic State Defector
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=7027

vlad2-300x219

Egyptian locals are increasingly “Pro-Vlad” – but aren’t big fans of President Obama
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Other Related Articles:

Haftar-Sisi Alliance: The Roadblock to ISIS Bridge Into the Maghreb
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5033

Egypt Strikes ISIS Positions in Libya: Moderate Muslims Rise Up Against Terror
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4889

Egypt and UAE Launch Airstrikes in Libya – US Kept in the Dark
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1302

Is Egypt Planning Military Intervention in Libya?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=584

Jordan Steps Up Airstrikes Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4669

Egyptian Army and IDF Take On ISIS Supporters in Sinai
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1500

Egyptian Army Hits Back At ISIS In Sinai
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2410

ISIS Plots to Bring the “Flames of War” to US, UK and Australia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6431&

Putin halts flights to Egypt until “true causes” known for Metrojet crash

November 6, 2015

Putin halts flights to Egypt until “true causes” known for Metrojet crash, DEBKAfile, November 6, 2015

(Please see also, Russia to suspend flights to Egypt until causes of Sinai crash are clear. — DM)

Bomb_evidence_B_5.11.15

They discovered holes made by iron balls planted inside a bomb and scattered through all parts of the plane (see attached photos), as well as large tears in the outer walls that were caused by a powerful explosion.

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President Vladi­mir Putin halted all Russian flights to Egypt Friday, Nov. 6, “until we know the true causes of the incident” .i.e. the cause of the Russian Metrojet flight crash over Sinai Saturday which killed all 224 people aboard. Several European and Gulf Arab governments suspended flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, but Russia was the first to halt all outbound flights to Egypt. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Putin acted on the recommendation of the Russian security service chief Alexander Bortnikov.

The language of the statement – “true causes of the incident” – indicates that the Russians have lost patience with President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and don’t trust the Egyptian investigation into the causes of the disaster. For most of the week, the Russians played along with Egypt’s obstinate resistance to any suggestion of terrorism and insisted on waiting for the official investigations before making any determinations. Thursday, Moscow sharply criticized British prime minister for presuming on the strength of intelligence that the plane was most likely downed by a bomb.

Putin abruptly changed course Friday following four developments:

1. Russian investigators collecting samples at the crash scene in Sinai found residue and other evidence of an explosion emanating from inside the plane or externally from a missile. They discovered holes made by iron balls planted inside a bomb and scattered through all parts of the plane (see attached photos), as well as large tears in the outer walls that were caused by a powerful explosion. Samples from the airplane’s wreckage were collected and presented to a meeting of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee Thursday.

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2.  Forensic examination of victims’ remains left no doubt that they died as a result of an explosive blast.

These findings spread like wildfire in Moscow and in St. Petersburg among the grieving families. The Russian leader saw he could no longer afford to line up with Cairo’s playdown of the terrorist factor.

3. Moscow received intelligence that the Islamic State plans to follow up on its first “success” with further terrorist attacks on Russian and European passenger jets.

By downing the Russian airliner over Sinai, the Islamist terror group delivered a huge blow to Egypt’s tourism industry. Russia tops Egypt’s tourist market. Last year, 3.1 million Russians visited Egypt, yielding $2.5bn out of the total national tourism income of $7.3bn in 2014.

Sharm el-Sheikh was the scene of havoc Friday, as Russian and British tourists mobbed the airport in an attempt to fly home after the Egyptian authorities limited the number of outbound flights.

Anti-air missiles in ISIS hands also imperil Saudi, Jordanian and Israeli skies

November 5, 2015

Anti-air missiles in ISIS hands also imperil Saudi, Jordanian and Israeli skies, DEBKAfile, November 5, 2015

Shut_up

The Ansar al Sharia terrorist organization in Libya, which attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and murdered the American ambassador in 2012, has the very missiles capable of shooting down large airliners flying at high altitudes: Russian-made ground-to-air Buk missiles, which have a range of between three and 42 kilometers. This ultra-violent Islamist terror group has very close operational ties with ISIS-Sinai, and very possibly smuggled the missile system into Sinai from Libya.

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The British Cobra (emergency cabinet) decision of Wednesday, Nov. 4, not to send airliners to or from Sharm El-Sheikh, where 20,000 British tourists are stranded, further strengthens the assumption that the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 was downed over Sinai Saturday by a terrorist missile. It confirms that air traffic over Sinai and landings at Sharm are under threat from the ground – else why leave a large group of Britons under virtual siege in the Egyptian Red Sea resort? London said that the suspension of flights to Sharm was “indefinite.”

Moscow early Thursday accused London of being moved to this action out of hostility to Russia rather than security concerns.

Downing Street released a statement Wednesday saying: “As more information has come to light, we have become concerned that the plane may well have been brought down by an explosive device.” This statement was criticized by Egypt as “premature” – not a good omen for the conversation Prime Minister David Cameron is due to hold with his visitor, Egyptian president Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, later Thursday.

The British government has therefore stubbed toes in Moscow and Cairo without coming up with an emergency plan for evacuating its citizens from Egypt, whether overland to Cairo by bus or by sea aboard ships picking them up at the Red Sea resort and sailing through the Suez Canal.

This lack of initiative is a sign of confusion and uncertainty.

So far, the drawn-out deliberations and prevarications by officials in several countries regarding the crash of the Russian plane are meant for one purpose: to gain time for doing nothing about ISIS in Sinai. Neither the US, Russia or Britain is ready to send forces to the peninsula to confront the terrorists head-on.

The Ansar al Sharia terrorist organization in Libya, which attacked the US consulate in Benghazi and murdered the American ambassador in 2012, has the very missiles capable of shooting down large airliners flying at high altitudes: Russian-made ground-to-air Buk missiles, which have a range of between three and 42 kilometers. This ultra-violent Islamist terror group has very close operational ties with ISIS-Sinai, and very possibly smuggled the missile system into Sinai from Libya.

A number of intelligence agencies are aware of this and so a flock of leading European and Persian Gulf airlines lost no time in rerouting their flights to avoid Sinai straight after the Russian air disaster.

By causing this disaster, the Islamist terrorists coolly aimed for four goals:

1.  Retaliation for Russian intervention in Syria

2.  An attempt to destabilize the regime of Egyptian President Fattah Al-Sisi

3.  To show up the inadequacies of the 63-member coalition that the US formed in its effort to fight ISIS

4. To parade before the world the Islamic State’s operational prowess, its ability to shoot down the large passenger planes of the world’s biggest powers.

For five days, intelligence and flight safety experts dismissed the claim of responsibility that ISIS issued on the evening of October 31, maintaining that it was not to be taken seriously because no proof had been provided to support the claim – as if the charred fragments of the plane spread across tens of kilometers of desert were deniable.

In the second of its three messages, ISIS repeated its claim Wednesday, Nov. 4, promising details of how it downed the plane at a later date.

While more and more Western governments are coming around to accepting that the Russian airliner’s crash was caused by an explosive device, DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources repeat that they cannot rule out the possibility of a missile. The argument made on Wednesday in Washington and London that terrorist organizations do not have missiles capable of downing such planes is are simply incorrect.

ISIS-Sinai’s possession of an advanced ground-air missile system does not only endanger planes in the peninsula’s airspace, but also those aircraft flying over the Suez Canal as well as parts of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel. One of the Egyptian president’s main purposes in his London visit was to try and persuade Prime Minister Cameron to join an Egyptian military operation against Ansar al Sharia in Libya and so eliminate a major prop and arms supplier for ISIS-Sinai. He does not hold out much hope of success.

Doomed Russian jet did not issue a distress call: report

November 1, 2015

Doomed Russian jet did not issue a distress call: report, DEBKAfile, November 1, 2015

The Russian passenger plane that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday did not send out any distress call, reports said Sunday, meaning that the plane suddenly blew up. A number of Israeli commentators continue to claim, like Egypt, that the pilots reported a technical problem to the Egyptian control tower, and that the plane broke in half during the flight. However, there is no basis to those reports.

ISIS claims downing Russian airliner in Sinai in reprisal for Moscow’s Syria air strikes

October 31, 2015

ISIS claims downing Russian airliner in Sinai in reprisal for Moscow’s Syria air strikes, DEBKAfile, 6:38 PM, IDT, October 15, 2015

(Please see also video at ISIS Video Shows Downing of Airplane, Contradicting Russian Claims of Technical Fault. — DM)

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Families receive news of no survivors at St. Petersburg airport.

Had the crash been the result of a technical fault, as Moscow and Cairo claim, it would not have been so completely gutted but broken up into large fragments. The total destruction could only have been caused by an explosion either inside the A321 or a direct missile hit.

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“The fighters of the Islamic State were able to down a Russian plane over Sinai province that was carrying over 220 Russian crusaders. They were all killed, thanks be to God,” said a statement from the Sinai affiliate of ISIS after a Metrojet Airbus 321, carrying 217 Russian tourists and 7 crew from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, crashed in central Sinai early Saturday morning, Oct. 31. There were no survivors. President Vladimir Putin declared Sunday a national day of mourning after sending messages of sympathy to their families.

The terrorists’ statement went on to say: “You should know, Russians and your allies, that you have no security on Muslim land or its airspace… The daily murder of scores of innocents in Syria by your air bombardments will bring upon you disasters… Just as you kill, so you will be killed…”

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Russia’s Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov strongly denied as “inaccurate” what he called “assorted information that the Russian passenger plane was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile fired by terrorists.”

DEBKAfile early Saturday attributed the disaster to the ISIS Sinai branch Ansar al-Bait Maqdis, while Moscow and Cairo issued confusing claims as to its cause. They included a distress call from the pilot of the Russian plane to the Egyptian control following a technical fault with a request to reroute the plan to El Arish or Cairo.

However, aviation sources say this exchange never took place and the Airbus abruptly disappeared off the screens indicating a sudden catastrophe.

The Egyptian daily Al-Ahram Arabic quoted the head of Egypt’s Air Navigation as admitting later that the plane’s pilot did not request an emergency landing before crashing.

Responsibility for the air disaster claimed by ISIS takes the war on the Islamic terrorists down to a new security low for all the countries in the region, including Israel. Lufthansa and Air France airlines have suspended all flights over the Egyptian Peninsula. President Putin will be under pressure to decide whether or not to expand Russia’s war on the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq or pull back.

DEBKAfile reported earlier Saturday.

A Russian civilian plane with 217 passengers and 7 crew aboard crashed, and is belived shot down by a missile, over Sinai over Sinai early Saturday morning, Oct. 31, shortly after taking off from the Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh for St. Petersburg.

Initial reporting on the fate of the plane was confused and is still not completely clear. It was first reported to be missing after contact was lost with Egyptian air control; it was then said to be safely on its way to Russia over Turkey. Russian aviation sources then reported the A321 to be missing over Cypriot air space. Finally, the Egyptian prime minister’s office Egyptian prime minister’s office confirmed that a Russian passenger plane had crashed n central Sinai and a cabinet level crisis committee had been formed to deal with the crash.

The airliner owned by the small airline Kogalymavia disappeared from screen 23 minutes after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh. There were many families with children aboard.

DEBKAfile reports:  The first claim by Russian aviation sources that the plane had gone missing over Cyprus was an attempt to draw attention from the likelihood that it was shot down over Sinai, where the former Ansar al-Miqdas, which has renamed itself ISIS-Sinai, maintains its main strongholds.

Moscow is reluctant to admit that the Islamic State may have chosen to retaliate for the buildup of Russian forces in Syria and Russia ari strikes on its bases in Syria.

If the airline was indeed shot down by the Sinai branch of the Islamic State, the Russians are finding that ISIS is fully capable of striking at the least expected place and most vulnerable spot of its enemy.

On board the plane were 17 children, along with 200 adults and seven crew, said aviation authorities. There are no signs of survivors.

Confirming the deliberate attempt at confusion, Moscow and Cairo both stated that the plane had disappeared from the radar 23 minutes after takeoff from Sharm El-Sheikh.

This is refuted by the discovery of the wreckage, a few minutes ago, completely gutted and destroyed, and a short distance away near Bir Al-Hassaneh, in the central Sinai Jabal al-Halal mountain range, where Ansar Beit al-Miqdas terrorists are holed up and which is almost inaccessible to rescue teams.

It is to this stronghold that DEBKAfile reported in recent months that ISIS sent officers, former senior members of Saddam Hussein’s army, to set up a major campaign against the Egyptian army, along with advanced anti-air missile systems smuggled into Sinai and the Gaza Strip from Libya for this campaign.
Israel air force jets no longer carry out low flights in the areas within range of the Islamic groups armed with these missiles.

Updating:

In another attempt to disguise the cause of the disaster, Russian and Egyptian officials now say that the pilot of the Russian plane reported a technical fault after takeoff and asked to be rerouted to Cairo or El-Arish. Russian and Egyptian officials have meanwhile announced they are forming commissions of inquiry to investigate the cause of the tragedy. Official condolences were relayed to the waiting families the airport.

The Sinai branch of the Islamic State has developed a highly competent intelligence-gathering network, DEBKAfile’s sources report, operated by local Bedouin tribesmen who track the slightest movements in the Peninsula. The Egyptian army and the American troops serving at the big the Multinational Force base there are fully aware of the round-the-clock surveillance maintained by the terrorists at Egyptian resorts, using staff at hotels, restaurants and the local airfield as inside informers.

Ansar has never yet harmed the tourist traffic in Sinai. But once ISIS decided to use it to hit back at Russia’s intensified military intervention in the Syrian conflict, the Islamists would not have found it hard to find out when the Russian airliner was due to take off from the Red Sea resort, chart its route north along the western coast of the Gulf of Aqaba up to Dahab and then turn west towards central Sinai and head for the Mediterranean. All the terrorists had to do was to lay a missile ambush for the plane from the Jabal Halal eminence of 876 meters (2,865 ft).

Had the crash been the result of a technical fault, as Moscow and Cairo claim, it would not have been so completely gutted but broken up into large fragments. The total destruction could only have been caused by an explosion either inside the A321 or a direct missile hit.

ISIS Video Shows Downing of Airplane, Contradicting Russian Claims of Technical Fault

October 31, 2015

ISIS Video Shows Downing of Airplane, Contradicting Russian Claims of Technical Fault, The Jewish Press, October 31, 2015

(How persuasive, if at all, is the video? — DM)

ISIS-video-of-downed-plane

Russia’s transport minister Maksim Sokolov on Saturday denied the Islamic State’s claim, that its militants had brought down the Russian charter plane Airbus A321, en route from the south Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg on Saturday. But a videotape released by ISIS possibly refutes the claims, showing a plane as it is being hit, and following its fall from the sky trailed by a tail of smoke.

 

 

There were 214 Russian and three Ukranian passengers on board, with a crew of seven. An ISIS affiliate in Egypt claimed that it had downed the plane, without specifying how, but an Egyptian spokesman said the crash was not the result of an attack.

The ISIS tweets describing the attack went: “Soldiers of the Caliphate were able to bring down a Russian plane above Sinai Province with at least 220 Russian crusaders aboard,” followed by: “They were all killed, praise be to God. O Russians, you and your allies take note that you are not safe in Muslims lands or their skies,” and: “The killing of dozens daily in Syria with bombs from your planes will bring woe to you. Just as you are killing others, you too will be killed, God willing.”

But Minister Sokolov tweeted: “Now in various media there is assorted information that the Russian [airplane]… was supposedly shot down by an anti-aircraft missile, fired by terrorists,” and insisted, “This information can’t be considered accurate.”

According to Sputnik, an examination of the Airbus crash site showed the airliner fell due to a technical fault. It was the deadliest air accident in Russian history, worse than the 1985 disaster in Uzbekistan, when 200 people perished. Bodies were found as far as three miles the crashed plane in the Sinai. According to Reuters, the plane fell vertically, which led to large parts of it burning.

According to the Guardian, the ISIS claim does not explain how they were able to bring down the plane, when the most sophisticated, portable surface-to-air missiles can’t reach the high altitude the plane was flying at. These missiles have been proven effective strictly during take-off or landing, but the Russian Airbus came down after having reached its target altitude.

The black box that was onboard the aircraft has been found at the crash site, according to the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry. Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kemal said it was too early to state the cause of the crash, but suggested the plane had not been shot down or blown up.

Meanwhile, European airlines Lufthansa and Air France have announced that they would stop flying over the Sinai Peninsula, until it is made clear what had caused the crash.

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