TIME Terrorism

Peter Kassig’s Powerful Silence Before ISIS Beheaded Him

Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig ISIS Islamic State
Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig is pictured making a food delivery to refugees in Lebanonís Bekaa Valley in this May 2013 handout photo. Reuters

The former Army Ranger did not address the camera.

It’s tough to take any solace when the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria commits a murder, as it made clear yet again on Sunday it had done with the release of a video of the apparent beheading of American Peter Kassig.

But as grimly depressing as the video was—this is the fifth recorded killing of a Westerner released by the group since August—it differed from those that came before.

The video didn’t feature as many high production values or multi-camera angles. Most startling, Kassig, an Indiana native, didn’t make a final statement into his captors’ cameras, as those who died before him had done (he did, however, speak to Time early last year before he was kidnapped).

Kassig, 26, “doesn’t have much to say,” said ISIS’s British-accented, black-robed executioner on the video.

There is speculation over why this video is different.

“The likeliest possibility is that something went wrong when they were beheading him,” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the New York Times.

But there’s another possibility. “I don’t know how this went down, or if it really did,” tweeted Andrew Exum. “But I like the idea of the Ranger not saying a damn thing.”

Kassig became a Ranger in 2006, and served with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Iraq in 2007. Exum himself is a former Ranger, an elite band of soldiers that the Army declares to be its “premier direct-action raid force.”

Kassig knew what he faced, and he knew the Ranger Creed, which says:

Recognizing that I volunteered as a Ranger, fully knowing the hazards of my chosen profession, I will always endeavor to uphold the prestige, honor, and high esprit de corps of the Rangers…

Never shall I fail my comrades. I will always keep myself mentally alert, physically strong and morally straight and I will shoulder more than my share of the task whatever it may be, one-hundred-percent and then some.

Energetically will I meet the enemies of my country. I shall defeat them on the field of battle for I am better trained and will fight with all my might. Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy and under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.

His family, and his nation, can take solace in Ranger Kassig’s silent courage before his country’s enemies.

Read next: Graphic ISIS Video Claims US Aid Worker Beheaded

TIME Afghanistan

Female Afghan Lawmaker Survives Apparent Assassination Attempt

Afghanistan
Afghan security forces carry the body of a civilian after a suicide attack in Kabul that targeted Shukria Barazkai, a prominent female member of Afghanistan's parliament, Nov. 16, 2014. Rahmat Gul—AP

Shukria Barakzai suffered only "small injuries" after a bomb blast

A prominent female member of Afghanistan’s parliament survived what appeared to be a assassination attempt in Kabul on Sunday, authorities said.

At least three people were killed and 22 injured in a bomb blast targeting the car of lawmaker and vocal Taliban critic Shukria Barakzai, the Los Angeles Times reports.

She suffered “small injuries” after a suicide bomber tried to crash his car into her armored vehicle before detonation, said Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

Sediqqi also dismissed reports that Barakzai’s daughter, who frequently travels with her, was killed in the attack.

A Taliban spokesman denied responsibility for the attack, and no other group has claimed the bombing as their own.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the attack was an act of terrorism and called for an investigation. Women make up approximately one-quarter of Afghanistan’s parliament.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME Terrorism

ISIS Is Minting Its Own Money

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa
A fighter from the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) waves a flag in Raqqa, Syria on June 29, 2014. Reuters

It will be circulated in areas of Syria and Iraq

The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) said Thursday that it plans to introduce its own currency in the areas under its control because it wishes to “emancipate itself from the satanic global economic system.”

ISIS said it will be minting new gold, silver and copper coins as part of a new currency called Dinar, according to a message translated by SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors terrorist activity.

MORE: ISIS leader’s new orders: ‘Erupt volcanoes of jihad”

It is not yet clear how ISIS will produce the currency, which will be “based on the inherent value of the metals,” but the group says its “Treasury Department” will organize minting and circulation.

ISIS did not say when the currency would be launched or specify in which areas it would begin circulating the currency.

MORE: How to financially starve ISIS

TIME Terrorism

ISIS Leader’s New Orders: ‘Erupt Volcanoes of Jihad’

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq on July 5, 2014, AP

"Light the Earth with fire"

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of extremist group ISIS, called on his supporters to “erupt volcanoes of jihad” in an apparent new audio message released Thursday. The recording, which appeared to be genuine according to Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm and NBC News counterterrorism consultancy, came days after speculation that Baghdadi had been wounded in an airstrike in Iraq.

“O soldiers of the Islamic State, continue to harvest the soldiers,” the recording said. “Erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere. Light the Earth with fire.”

The extremist leader claimed the bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is failing, saying: “America and its allies are terrified, weak, and powerless…”

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Military

Why Navy SEALs Are Supposed to Keep Their Mouths Shut

Former Navy SEAL Rob O'Neill Who Killed Osama bin Laden Speaks At Chamber of Commerce
Robert O'Neill, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, speaks at the "Best of Blount" Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony at the Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville, Tennessee, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 6. Luke Sharrett—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Those who brag about killing bin Laden erode the support the SEALs will need for their next mission

Robert O’Neill may have fired the shot that killed Osama bin Laden, but he was merely the triggerman. The U.S. and members of its military—thousands of them—killed the 9/11 mastermind. The fact is that O’Neill and those telling his story seem to miss that point.

There is no “I” in “team,” coaches and military commanders are fond of saying. But that rule apparently applies less and less if you’re at the “tip of the spear” like the Navy SEALs who allegedly killed Osama bin Laden in his lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011.

This week, O’Neill, an ex-member of SEAL Team 6, is slated to discuss his “kill shot” to bin Laden’s forehead with Fox News. His tale comes nearly two years after a colleague, Matt Bissonnette, also a former member of SEAL Team 6, wrote a book, No Easy Day, about the raid under the pen name Mark Owen. Both violated non-disclosure agreements they signed as members of the Navy’s most elite special-operations force.

“These things have to be kept quiet for a number of reasons,” Don Mann, a former SEAL and author of Inside SEAL Team Six, said Sunday. “Talking out like this goes against the fabric of our community.” But Mann cuts O’Neill some slack: first of all, the government made it clear, shortly after bin Laden’s death, that SEAL Team 6 was responsible (“To me, that’s the bigger problem,” Mann says). Then Bissonnette took too much credit for his role, Mann believes.

But O’Neill’s and Bissonnette’s decisions to go public with their role violates the SEALs’ tenets and irritates many in the military. These SEALs, in the eyes of the public, become heroes once their stories are told. But the action that warrants such acclaim has been built on the backs, boots and blood of thousands of anonymous troops (not to mention Pentagon civilians). An untold number of them played critical roles in the hunt for bin Laden; remove any one from the chain of success and the mission could have failed, with the loss of O’Neill, Bissonnette and the other SEALs who participated in the raid.

As word of O’Neill’s impending public victory lap began to leak out, SEAL leaders issued a memo trying to explain why it was wrong. “Any real credit to be rendered is about the incredible focus, commitment, and teamwork of this diverse network and the years of hard work undertaken with little individual public credit,” wrote Rear Admiral Brian Losey, commander Naval Special Warfare Command—home of the SEALs—and Force Master Chief Michael Magaraci, the SEALs’ top enlisted man. “It is the nature of our profession.” They reminded SEALS of a key element of their ethos: “I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions.”

Such a notion seems almost quaint in today’s self-centered, media-saturated culture. O’Neill’s words in the Washington Post (“I watched him take his last breaths”) seem more screenplay than reality, tainted with a sense of gloating that rarely is becoming in anyone wearing a U.S. military uniform. It is the selfless nature of American troops that makes their work honorable.

Both the public and the press seemingly relish identifying such SEALs, and glorifying their exploits, without care for what may be lost in the transaction.

If fame, and the fortune it can bring, become part of the allure of signing up with U.S. Special Operations Command, the men and women who actually make those missions possible are going to sour on their private sacrifice. The net result will be a less-capable force.

“We live in a democracy where the public has a real desire to know information,” Mann fears. “But we also live in a very dangerous world where military secrets need to be preserved for the safety of our military personnel and, ultimately, the safety of those they protect.”

The first secret worth preserving are the identities of those who carry out such missions.

Read next: Revealed: The Navy SEAL Who Killed bin Laden

TIME National Security

Revealed: The Navy SEAL Who Killed bin Laden

Former SEALs preemptively revealed his name in protest of his decision to come forward

The identity of the Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden was a closely held secret until Thursday, when a site operated by former SEALs disclosed his name.

Robert O’Neill, a 38-year-old Montana native, was planning to reveal that he killed bin Laden in the May 2011 raid next week in interviews with Fox News and the Washington Post. But the former SEALs released his name in protest of his decision to come forward.

Read more at the Washington Post

Read next: Former Navy SEAL Who Wrote Bin Laden Raid Book Under Investigation

TIME Terrorism

Facebook and Twitter Are ‘Command-and-Control Networks’ for Terrorists

Spy chief: U.S. technology companies are in denial over the extent they aid terror and crime

The head of Britain’s equivalent of the NSA has said that U.S. technology firms that dominate the Internet must contribute more to the battle against violent extremism and child exploitation.

Robert Hannigan, the new head of Government Communications Headquarters, has accused Internet firms of being “in denial” over the role they play in crime and terrorism, demanding they work with security services to combat the growth of groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Writing in the Financial Times on Tuesday, Hannigan says that unlike other extremist groups, including al-Qaeda, ISIS has “embraced the web” and grown increasingly savvy in improving the security of their communications.

While technology companies may aspire to stand outside politics, their services increasingly facilitate crime and terrorism, argues Hannigan. “However much they may dislike it, they have become the command-and-control networks of choice for terrorists and criminals, who find their services as transformational as the rest of us,” he adds.

He says U.K. security agencies need better support from “the largest U.S. technology companies which dominate the web” and calls for greater cooperation, adding that most Internet users would prefer “a better, more sustainable relationship between the agencies and the technology companies.”

[FT]

TIME India

India Cannot Ignore the Ramifications of the Suicide Bombing at Wagah

India's BSF soldiers patrol in front of the golden jubilee gate at the Wagah border
India's Border Security Force soldiers patrol in front of the golden jubilee gate at the Wagah border on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Amritsar on Nov. 3, 2014 Munish Sharma—Reuters

The splintering of the Pakistani Taliban has led to a realignment of groups that might target India next, experts say

India and Pakistan conducted their traditional flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border crossing on Monday evening, a day after a terrorist killed nearly 60 people in a suicide bombing on the Pakistani side.

Taking place at the only land crossing between the two neighbors, the ceremony is a major tourist attraction. There was talk of it being canceled, but in the event it went ahead, sending a message to the militants.

“Today’s ceremony proved that terrorists cannot lower the spirit of the nation by their cowardly activities,” said Lieut. General Naveed Zaman, commander of Pakistan’s Lahore Corps.

Multiple militant organizations — all splinter groups of the Pakistani Taliban — are claiming responsibility for Sunday’s attack, saying it was in response to the Pakistan army’s recent anti-insurgency crackdown in the country’s North Waziristan region. But the attack’s implications for India — which has fought three wars with Pakistan — cannot be ignored, several experts speaking to TIME say.

“It is difficult to believe that whoever was involved in planning this attack did not have any idea of its implications,” says Radha Kumar, director of the Delhi Policy Group. Kumar adds that trade and travel between the two countries, already at a bare minimum, would likely be impacted. “With flights between the two countries down to one a week, more and more people are using Wagah to cross over,” she says.

Ved Marwah, chairman of the Indian government’s task force on National Security and the Criminal Justice System and author of the book Uncivil Wars: Pathology of Terrorism in India, said India presents the “No. 1 target” for any forces threatening the security and stability of Pakistan. “I think it’s a very serious threat, we can’t take it lightly,” Marwah says. “The very fact that three organizations are claiming credit for this particular incident shows how deep the infection has infiltrated into Pakistan.”

The two countries have engaged in an on-again, off-again dialogue toward peace over the years, and their recent relationship has been tense mainly because of escalating military conflicts in the contentious Kashmir region. India has long accused the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, of encouraging and even facilitating cross-border terrorism, but the apparent lack of control over these groups has alarm bells ringing on both sides of the border.

“I think the primary message of this explosion is for Pakistan, these groups are saying that despite the dislocation of the Pakistani Taliban they still have power to challenge the state,” said Hasan Askari Rizvi, a prominent Pakistani defense analyst, explaining the likely motives behind Sunday’s attack. “India will have to recognize that not all groups are under Pakistani control,” Rizvi says.

A degree of skepticism remains on the Indian side, however, and an Indian government official speculated to the Economic Times that the bomber’s intended target was India.

“They may not be [under the ISI],” says Marwah, “but the fact is their agendas and the ISI’s agendas converge as far as India is concerned.”

Rizvi admits that he shares that concern as well, especially following the weakening of the Pakistani Taliban, which has led to a realignment and attempted assertion of power among its rebel factions.

Major General Rashid Qureshi, a former spokesperson for the Pakistani army and close aide of former President Pervez Musharraf, says the North Waziristan operation should have started a long time ago and blames the current civilian government for the lapse. “In their effort to prove their democratic credentials, our government seems to tolerate lawlessness which I think defies proper governance,” Qureshi says. “The delay definitely strengthened these extremists and terrorists, and they were able to get a fair amount of influence and hold in the tribal regions,” he adds.

Qureshi describes the Wagah border as a “soft target” for the terrorists, the one place where he says India and Pakistan show some degree of cooperative interaction. “I think this act of terrorism had a twofold aim to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of the Pakistanis as well as the Indians, because the moment you see such an act happening so close to your border, you get a little apprehensive.”

While all three men agree that the two countries need to work together to resolve the issue through dialogue, the actual possibility of that happening seems low under the current circumstances.

“There’s very little likelihood of the leadership talking to each other because the political situation in Pakistan would not allow that,” says Marwah, referring to the massive protests facing Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and urging the need for back-channel diplomacy. “[Prime Minister Narendra] Modi in India doesn’t have the political compulsions that his counterpart has.”

Rizvi says the fact that the attacks targeted Pakistan serves is a saving grace of sorts. “Had such an incident taken place on the other side of the border, it would have created a major crisis in India-Pakistan relations.”

TIME Iraq

Iraq Confirms ISIS Massacre of Sunni Tribe

Tribal fighters look on as they take part in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in the town of Amriyat al-Falluja,in Anbar province
Tribal fighters look on as they take part in an intensive security deployment against ISIS militants in the town of Amriyat al-Falluja,in Anbar province on October 31, 2014. Reuters

Baghdad says extremist militants viciously killed 322 members of the Sunni Albu Nimr tribe

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) slaughtered more than 300 members of a Sunni tribe, including women and children, during the group’s latest killing spree in Iraq’s Anbar province.

Iraq’s Ministry of Human Rights confirmed that 322 individuals from the Albu Nimr tribe, who had reportedly risen up against ISIS’s brutal rule near Heet in the country’s Sunni heartland, were brutally murdered over the weekend.

Although ISIS is itself exclusively Sunni, the Jihadist group is nevertheless quick to dispatch those from its own denomination who refuse to pledge fealty.

The U.S. government was quick to condemn the brutal attacks. “This proves once again that [ISIS] does not represent anything but its warped ideology and provides more evidence, if any were needed, why our coalition partners, including Iraqis from every background, must work together to defeat these terrorists,” Jen Pskai, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, told journalists in Washington on Monday.

However, elders from the tribe blamed the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad for failing to provide weapons to the embattled community as they ran low on supplies.

“The government abandoned us and gave us to ISIS on a platter,” Sheikh Naeem Al Gaoud told the BBC. “We asked them many times for weapons but they gave us only promises.”

The massacre of the Albu Nimr tribe comes as Iraqi forces, in close cooperation with the U.S., are reportedly planning to launch a massive counter-offensive to dislodge ISIS from the territory it controls across northwest Iraq, which includes large tracts of Anbar province.

Iraq’s Sunni tribes played a pivotal role in defeating the earlier incarnation of ISIS during the U.S. troop surge in 2007, which succeeded in drastically stymieing sectarian violence.

But following the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq in late 2011, the country’s Sunni minority complained of being increasingly marginalized by the Shiite-led government in Bagdad, which resulted in renewed bloodshed. Analysts have long argued that Baghdad will likely fail to uproot ISIS without first partnering with the nation’s myriad Sunni tribes.

TIME Terrorism

U.S. Military Ups Vigilance as Fears Mount of Fresh ISIS-Inspired Attacks

William Mayville
Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Jr., speaks about the operations to target the Khorasan Group in Syria on Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014, during a news conference at the Pentagon. Cliff Owen—AP

Defense officials are fearful that their personnel may be targeted after receiving public threats from terrorists operating in the Middle East

The American military is warning service members and their families to be a bit more vigilant amid threatens directed from or inspired by ISIS, according to a report on Thursday.

Law enforcement officers and service members were described by the Pentagon, in an internally circulated memo last week, as “legitimate targets” by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, the Military Times reports. The message came days after a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, killing one soldier.

The Marine Corps was also reported to send out an announcement that called on troops to report “even the most minor suspicious activity” and to be prudent when posting updates on social media. And officials at MacDill Air Force Base, overseeing the 6th Air Mobility Wing in Tampa, Fla., were said to have instructed troops to keep a low profile and avoid public affiliation with the military.

According to a dossier compiled for the U.N. Security Council, an estimated 15,000 individuals have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside ISIS and other militant organizations. The large number of fighters receiving training with such groups has raised fresh fears in the U.S. and abroad of domestic attacks should they return home.

[Military Times]

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