“How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers” – TTG


There is an excellent piece in yesterday’s New York Times about a clandestine intelligence organization within IS responsible for orchestrating most of the recent terror attacks worldwide. Rather than summarize the piece myself, I copied the intro put out by the author, Rukmini Callimachi, on her twitter account. I took the liberty of editing some of the twitterese shortcuts and putting it in a format that many of us old coots find easier to read. 


Good morning all, today I am publishing a piece that was weeks in the making and involved days of 3 am bedtimes.  It's the story of a secretive body inside ISIS known as the Emni, which is responsible for identifying recruits for suicide attacks overseas. The story is based on over 100,000 pages of French, Belgian, German and Austrian investigative documents post-Nov 13 attacks. But the real scoop is that we got a sit-down jailhouse interview with German ISIS operative Harry Sarfo, who was recruited by the Emni. Please take the time to see the amazing video by colleagues @andrewglazer @benjaminlaffin and Derek Reich. 

Among the key takeaways: ISIS is recruiting from all over Europe. Last year, they were focusing on Germany/England because network weak. As of April 2015, ISIS felt so confident of its network in France that members of Emni began laughing hysterically when discussing it. By contrast in Germany, they had tried to send operatives but all at that point had chickened out / gotten cold feet. 

I have been tracking this secretive group inside ISIS ever since the Paris attacks, when we learned that commander Abaaoud was from Emni. 

First credit where credit is due: Months before me, @michaeldweiss interviewed an ISIS defector who named Emni. Michael's piece was the first indication of role of body. The ”Aha" moment for me was when French interrogation records named Emni as the group behind 11/13. What we learned from jailhouse interview of Sarfo, a German recruited by Emni is that body is building global portfolio of terrorists. 

Sarfo explained that head of Emni is Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the spokesman of ISIS. He called him "The Big Man" behind attacks in Europe. Adnani's role is confirmed by interrogation records of ISIS operatives dispatched from Syria to carry out attacks. Earliest date from 2014. Among ISIS members who spoke of Adnani's role is Faiz Bouchrane, French citizen who said he was "ordered in person" by Adnani to attack. Further details come from Nicolas Moreau, an ISIS member who ran a restaurant in Raqqa and explained how Emni recruited Europeans to attack. 

Outlines of the group which we glimpse through interrogation docs is fully fleshed out by Sarfo who details how Emni has different departments. There is a department "for European affairs," "for Asian affairs," and for "Arab affairs." They recruit citizens of each region to go back. Sarfo and French intelligence documents say it was Emni who trained the gunman who opened fire on the beach in Sousse, Tunisia and Bardo Museum.  Sarfo says for key countries where they wish to export terror they appoint a national in Syria. There is an "emir" for Bangladesh/Indonesia. Recall how many of recent directed attacks were carried out by European jihadists with long record of petty crime? Abaaoud/Abdeslam etc? This is no accident says Sarfo. He says they look for people who have a criminal network they can tap into. In Asia, they look for ex-AQ. So the idea that they specifically tapped ex-JMB members in Bangladesh should be no surprise. That's on purpose. 

Among the big revelations that Sarfo shared is system of "clean men" used by ISIS to incite terror in the West without leaving trace to IS. The idea is that ISIS has "hundreds" of operatives that have gone to ground in Europe and beyond. They radicalize new converts to Islam.  The new converts are "clean" / not in database of European intelligence. These "clean men," says Sarfo are used to link with attackers. Attackers are radicalized virtually via people in Syria but the final handoff including help getting arms etc are done via "clean men.” Sarfo believes it is these "clean men" who were used to pick up pledge videos from Wurzburg, Ansbach and Normandy attackers. What his testimony suggests is that authorities should take special care when examining contacts of gunmen pledging allegiance to IS. The fact that they cannot find a direct link to ISIS may well be by design, says Sarfo.


In a comment I made after the Nice, France terror attack, I surmised that there was a very competent IS case officer who spotted, assessed, recruited, trained and tasked that angry Tunisian petty thief to drive a truck through the Bastille Day crowd. I suppose this very competent case officer was/is part of Abu Muhammad al-Adnani’s shadowy Emni organization. Clearly they have mastered all the skills of non-technical tradecraft, including courier networks, as well as the newer skills of social media. Those “old school” spy skills will not be easily countered by our employment of SIGINT and the “collect it all” mentality of building and maintaining massive databases. At great expense, I might add.


According to her NYT bio, Ms. Callimachi has done some impressive and extensive work covering Islamic extremism. I’ll definitely be reading more of her work. Her most recent NYT piece, "How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers," along with the film about her interview with Harry Sarfo, can be found here.

Here’s a link to the Michael Weiss piece on “Confessions of an ISIS Spy” that Ms. Callimachi referred to in her twitter intro.


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42 Responses to “How a Secretive Branch of ISIS Built a Global Network of Killers” – TTG

  1. michael brenner says:

    At the risk of being labelled an inveterate contrarian (or worse), I’d like to offer a different perspective from the NY Times article.
    First, there appears a striking disparity between the supposed resources and organization devoted by ISIS to sowing mayhem in the West and what actually has occurred.
    In the US: Boston, Ft Hood and Orlando did not involve ISIS; California – we still don’t know; no serious plot of any origin foiled.
    U.K.: The Underground bombings – 11 years ago (pre-ISIS). Same for Spain. No serious plot capable of producing mass casualties foiled (i.e. beyond pub chatter and pamphlets scattered around an apartment).
    Germany: Recent incidents that appear ISIS connected although organizational links hazy.
    Belgium: definite connection
    France: definite connection in Paris attacks; Nice remains hazy beyond speculation. In the French and Belgian cases, organization and direction from ISIS Central seems to have been loose – if it existed at all in Nice case.
    This is not an “End of Civilization” scenario by any means. For the sake of perspective, let’s consider any significant number of SST correspondents getting together to engage in terrorism – here or abroad. With an absolute minimum or organization and direction, they could create damage many, many multiples of what we have experienced over the years.
    As ISIS fades, so will its allure. That will result in fewer terrorist incidents – whether organized and directed from Raqqa or not.

  2. hemeantwell says:

    “As ISIS fades, so will its allure. That will result in fewer terrorist incidents – whether organized and directed from Raqqa or not.”
    I’m inclined to agree. If ISIS commanders regard their organization as fading, wouldn’t we expect to see these networks attacking with greater frequency now? We know they can play the long game, but I agree with Brenner in thinking that would risk cadre disillusionment. But this leads to the question of how they are reading the current situation. Are they interested in influencing the US election? If so, in whose favor? Wouldn’t they want to increase pressures making for an EU breakup?

  3. Swampy says:

    “As ISIS fades, so will its allure.”
    I get an unsaid feeling (surprisingly from the MSM) that given the hard choice many, in Europe and even in the US, would rather convert/submit to Islam then fight.
    There’s a malaise or purposelessness regarding the whole conflict on our end, at least on the surface level.

  4. TTG,
    I would however note that Michael D. Weiss is a leading ‘borgist’ propagandist.
    A piece by ‘b’ from January 2012 deals with his links to the ‘Henry Jackson Society’, the principal organisation of the ‘neocons’ in Britain.
    (See http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/01/neocon-israel-mouthpiece-writes-syrian-opposition-policy-paper.html .)
    There is a great deal of other material on the net.
    Among the signatories of the ‘Statement of Principles’ of the Society – in itself a moronic document – was the former MI6 head, Sir Richard Dearlove.
    (See http://henryjacksonsociety.org/about-the-society/signatories-to-the-statement-of-principles/ )
    One of the things about ‘Scoop’ Jackson is that he managed to get almost everything wrong.
    So to have Dearlove signing the ‘Statement’ is a bit as though a former head of Scotland Yard was a signatory of the ‘Statement of Principles’ of a ‘Jacques Clouseau Society’.
    And, if you think I am surrendering to the temptation to make bad jokes, read this account from July 2014 by Patrick Cockburn of what Dearlove had to say about what Prince Bandar had told him.
    An extract:
    ‘Dearlove’s explosive revelation about the prediction of a day of reckoning for the Shia by Prince Bandar, and the former head of MI6’s view that Saudi Arabia is involved in the Isis-led Sunni rebellion, has attracted surprisingly little attention. Coverage of Dearlove’s speech focused instead on his main theme that the threat from Isis to the West is being exaggerated because, unlike Bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida, it is absorbed in a new conflict that “is essentially Muslim on Muslim”. Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.’
    (See http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-crisis-how-saudi-arabia-helped-isis-take-over-the-north-of-the-country-9602312.html .)
    Of course, as the Colonel has repeatedly told us, one needs to look at the intelligence and the provider of it separately.
    But one should bear in mind that Michael D. Weiss, like Dearlove, is a very dodgy character indeed. (If he told me the time, I would ask for at least two independent witnesses.)

  5. michael brenner and hemeantwell,
    The eventual destruction of the physical caliphate will put a kink in the tail of IS. Obviously, I’m all for that. However, IS as a clandestine terrorist organization will remain quite capable and dangerous. A shadowy clandestine organization will have its own allure, at least as powerful as the physical caliphate. Think of it as Plan B. This new IS method of operation is new, only two to three years old. It takes a while to create a credible clandestine organization, especially when the world’s counter-terrorist forces are gunning for you. I firmly believe we should put as much effort into destroying this clandestine IS capability as we should into destroying the physical caliphate.

  6. David Habakkuk,
    Thanks for the heads up on Weiss. Don’t worry. I don’t want to date him, just read his series on IS. ; )

  7. rakesh wahi says:

    I think this will clear out once ISIS is out of Raqqa and Mosul.

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The comments about Shia were understood by Shia in the following countries: Iran, Azerbaijan Republic, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

  9. smoke says:

    A couple of major networks chose to highlight, in addition to the “clean men” network of contacts and arms suppliers, a segment of the interview, in which the ISIS prisoner proclaimed that the U.S. was easy for recruiting and arming recruits, because of its “stupid” open social media and its gun laws. ISIS did not even have to provide arms, because recruits can easily arm themselves.
    Hearing this sent up a red flag for me. First glaring question, which neither of these news propagators raised, follows Michael Brenner’s observation above. If it is so easy, what accounts for the lack of ISIS attacks in the U.S.? And second, what a convenient segue for the likes of Rachel Maddow and a whole eastern establishment to raise the cry, again, for more restrictive gun laws.
    Callimachi’s reporting may be very good. But one wonders how she found her sources. Isn’t it possible that, in some cases, invisible hands were steering?

  10. steve says:

    How much does it cost to run an organization like this? Assume IS is gone as a physical presence in Syria and Iraq in 2 years. Would they still be able to maintain the funding to run an organization like this? Alternatively, assume IS falls apart with its loss of territory. Who assumes the mantle of leadership among the jihadists? Is it AQ again or is there some new group waiting in the wings? I don’t see the movement going away entirely.

  11. michael brenner says:

    What aspect of ISIS is not clandestine? I offer this not as a smart=aleck question but simply as a reminder that there is a constant risk of exaggerating the capabilities of shadowy groups for the very reason that they are opaque. Without experience of the Intelligence world, I cannot offer an opinion on whether 2 -3 years is a short period of not. I will suggest, though, that bunch of fanatics constantly shuffling from one hidden site in Raqqato another has built-in limitations that the Bolsheviks ensconced in the Kremlin did not have. As far as I am aware, we have absolutely no evidence that ISIS has the capability to plan a 9/11 – or anything remotely like it – as al-Qaida did under far more adverse circumstances. The enduring after-life of ISIL will be manifest in the Middle East – especially the fractured societies of Syria and Iraq. Washington presumes to have high stakes in both places; yet, there is no evidence of any serious thinking about either a reassessment of the threat or how to cope with it – other than following the fanciful “narrative.”

  12. Tunde says:

    TTG and others with the relevant expertise,
    Why is this any different a feature than that employed by terror networks of past? ie FARC and PIRA collaboration ? Or ETA and Colombians/South American Marxist groups ?
    Do IC ‘s not do opfor research or whatever the correct term would be ? To my layman eyes, it looks like we lack a lot of imagination on what “they” can do next .
    Pardon my ignorance….

  13. Tunde says:

    In a nutshell what I’m trying to say is we seem very reactive then shoring up. That seems very resource heavy and may not be sustainable.

  14. michael brenner,
    The IS military operations we see every day in Syria and Iraq are not clandestine. Yes, they employ surprise, deception and concealment, but all military forces do this on the battlefield. Their actions are subject to both enemy observation and observation by civilians in the area. There is nothing clandestine about a convoy of jihadi laden technicals barreling down a highway. Those conducting a clandestine operation, on the other hand, seek to remain invisible to all, even to those who they rub elbows with on a daily basis. To operate like this securely, you have to move slowly and deliberately. Time is likely measured in months.

  15. Tunde,
    There’s nothing ignorant about your question/observation. This is no different from those older terrorist networks. There is a reason that clandestine intelligence collection is known as the second oldest profession.
    Perhaps the IC has been too busy or distracted by the bigger IS effort to establish an overt caliphate to catch the IS effort to develop a worldwide clandestine terrorist network. Of course, it’s the nature of a clandestine organization to be difficult to discover. Or, as you said, there may be a lack of imagination within the IC.

  16. steve,
    It would be far cheaper than running and defending a caliphate.

  17. smoke,
    I would imagine recruiting somebody to conduct a suicide mission using only social media is a difficult task. I doubt that IS dude who claimed it was easy knew what he was talking about.
    Callimachi’s big breakthrough occurred while she was an AP reporter in west Africa. While in Timbuktu after the fighting there died down, she noticed a lot of papers left by the AQIM fighters. She filled plastic garbage bags full of the documents and worked with a translator to understand the organization using these original source documents. I don’t think she’s easily led astray.

  18. michael brenner says:

    I meant that their leadership, plans and modes of organization are clandestine. What we see on the battlefield, of course, is by definition visible and comprehensible in their tangible manifestations. Speculation about clandestine networks, though, gains free rein because what we see (occasional. small scale terrorist acts) cannot in itself be taken as evidence of what the article postulates.
    Let’s also remember the reams of paper that we allegedly found in OBL’s house in Abbottabad – as well as other so-called troves periodically turned up in Iraq and Afghanistan over 15 years. One, they had plans on paper for everything – including seizing nuclear power plants, which had no operational meaning whatsoever. Two, ACM’s Timbuktu reams of plans notwithstanding, there has been no significant terrorist act in their region of operation (nor one uncovered and foiled) since they were kicked out by the French. The Algerian power plant assault has not been repeated. Three, they had no relationship of note with ISIL in 2013 and, therefore, any connection to the grand schemes and organization outlined in the NY Times article could only have been either extremely tenuous or fanciful at the time. Or, do we facilely presume that al-Qaeda and ISIS are fungible?

  19. VietnamVet says:

    Thanks. This is information that we need but is very scarce.
    The West doesn’t acknowledge that the Jihadists are serving as their proxy force to sow chaos in Eurasia. 25 years of bombing and the spreading wars are forcing Muslim societies to return to their fundamental roots for meaning and safety. The globalists treat people as a uniform commodity to be freely moved about and exploited. The chaos is now in Turkey and heading towards the heartland. Behind the lines, Lone Wolf attacks are recruited in person or online.
    But, actually, it is the West’s neo-ideology of constant wars, plunder and open immigration that are causing the crumbling of civilization. Peace treaties, alliances of sovereign states, secure borders and development would end the chaos.

  20. michael brenner,
    I wouldn’t describe their leadership, plans and modes of organization as clandestine. They employ a robust regime of state secrecy and non-transparency, but so do most modern state governments. I wouldn’t consider our government to be clandestine. The article only addresses one organization within the IS, al-Adnani’s Emni organization. Perhaps the overly dramatic title leads you to believe that the article postulates the emergence of a omnipresent SPECTRE-like terrorist organization. I don’t get the impression that Rukmini Callimachi is trying to make that case. On the other hand, the number of terrorist attacks attributed to or claimed by IS have steadily increased since 2014, although none in west Africa. Recent attacks in this region (Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Cameroon this year) were the work of AQIM, al Mourabitoun and Boko Haram.
    Speaking of the reams of documents captured over the years, the SDF/YPG forces captured more than 10,000 documents and 4.5 terabytes of data when they overran the Is headquarters in Manbij. Since Manbij was the major entry point and training area for foreign fighters flocking to IS, these documents should provide a more detailed view of Emni organization and operations. Whether we’ll ever get to see this is another story.

  21. The Virginian says:

    Insights into how Daesh has developed intelligence collection, counter-intelligence and special operations groups are of interest and can assist in efforts to mitigate the threat posed, as does knowledge of points of interface with organized crime, smugglers, government-linked supporters, diasporas, etc. However, it should be noted that the development of such specialties – including recruitment for martyrdom operations – is not unique. Terrorist / insurgent / militant organizations of various stripes have developed and used such capabilities; some that come to mind are the IRA (and its various factions), the Baader-Meinhof Gang, Fatah, the FARC, Hamas, Hezbollah, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), the Taliban, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, and Al-Qaeda (including its regional / country-specific offshoots). The targeted recruitment for martyrdom operations has been seen with Hezbollah, the LTTE, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and others. AQ, like now with Daesh, has developed compartmentalized structures that aim to recruit, train then deploy Western jehadis back into their homes of origin to both conduct attacks and identify / recruit / train / motivate pre-existing groups and individuals to themselves conduct attacks, or provide safe haven / support to others. The integration of former Iraqi Baathists with a background in Saddam’s security architecture would certainly further enable things, as does the role of other States in developing (or in some cases providing) intelligence capabilities for such groups (ex. Pakistan’s ISI).

  22. Babak Makkinejad,
    Of course Shia, in Iran and elsewhere, have noticed what Bandar said.
    However, it would also behove them – and particular Iranians – to grasp the significance of Cockburn’s article.
    A figure to whose writings Brigadier Ali has referred us several times is the former MI6 operative Alastair Crooke.
    In two articles in August-September 2014, Crooke traced the long history of the ‘devil’s pact’ which the British made with the Saudis, going back to the First World War, and how this was taken over by the Americans.
    (See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-aim-saudi-arabia_b_5748744.html .)
    The implicit premise of this, all long, as he noted, was that Wahhabist fanatics could be used in support of common foreign policy agendas we had with the Saudis, without risk of catastrophic ‘blowback’ against ourselves.
    My strong suspicion is that what one sees surfacing in Crooke’s writings are arguments within British intelligence which go back to the war in Afghanistan in the ‘Eighties. On this, see his ‘WikiSpooks’ entry at https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Alistair_Crooke .
    On the dangers of supping with the Sunni jihadist ‘devil’ without enough of a ‘long spoon’, Crooke and those who think like him have been proven right, in a way that public opinion in Europe cannot but notice.
    To my mind, a key paragraph in the Michael Weiss articles is the following:
    ‘Abu Khaled felt compelled to sign up because he believed America was an accomplice to global conspiracy, led by Iran and Russia, to keep the tyrant Bashar al-Assad in power. How else could it be explained that the U.S. was waging war only against Sunnis, and leaving an Alawite-run regime guilty of mass murder by almost every means and its Iranian Shia armies untouched?’
    Whatever the accuracy or otherwise of the claims made, the pieces by Weiss look to me like an attempt at ‘damage limitation’ – acknowledging the dangers from Sunni terrorism, while presenting them in a way designed to rule out the natural conclusion that in this fight we have a common interest with the Russians, the Syrian Government, and the Islamic Republic.
    There is here a fundamental battle over alignments which is ‘shaping’ up.
    It is of interest also that Michael D. Weiss is Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Interpreter’, which was originally a project of the ‘Institute of Modern Russia’, behind whose foundation were Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his son Pavel. As of January it is ‘funded and presented by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.’
    (See http://www.interpretermag.com/about-us/ .)
    Currently, the problem for the ‘borgistas’, both in Europe and the United States, is to accommodate the fact that they have been proven disastrously wrong about the risks of cooperating with Sunni jihadists in such a manner as to rescue a ‘narrative’ in which Iran and Russia are the principal enemies.
    But this ‘narrative’ is increasingly fragile.

  23. Fred says:

    “The West doesn’t acknowledge that the Jihadists are serving as their proxy force to sow chaos in Eurasia”
    So “the West” is responsible for ISIS?

  24. Kassandra says:

    Somehow the Callimachi piece is like a big mac – you can incorporate it in few bites without getting any differentiated taste. If you start to think about it in a larger context, it simply does not fit and develops the smell of a red herring.
    “The fact that they cannot find a direct link to ISIS may well be by design” – but it may well be simply the fact of no such link. The stakes are extremely high, so there would be very good reasons for escalating a strategy of tension aka Gladio 2.0. Scaring the shit out of Joe Sixpack paid very well in the U.S., so giving such treatment to Europe should work as well. Make them unconditionally joining the empire’s corral, and developing some genuine Israeli feeling. That should be enough to get them volunteering for the frontline (where they already are anyway), and making them fight for their handlers.

  25. Cee says:

    I’d like the funding and all of the training of these hoards addressed.
    WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton Served On Board Of Company With ISIS Ties
    The fact a private Western company has allegedly had dealings with ISIS is not the only worrying factor in this story.
    The Enemy Of My Friend Is My Friend: Israel Accepts Billions From The US, But Maintains Ties With Al-Nusra

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    I was hoping to impress upon yourself and the readers on this forum that any anti-Shia posture impacts domestic stability and social tranquility among many states that are presumed to be nominal friends of US and EU (the Western Diocletian states).
    The problem with Borgistas, in my opinion, is that they took political problems with a revolutionary state – the core state of an alien civilization – and escalated it to the level of inter-civilizational confrontation and religious warfare.
    In regards to Wahhabis – they are not the alone – look at Deobandis.

  27. First of all,
    Thx to TTG for posting excerpts of this NYT piece. It is interesting to see this piece getting that much traction, because it shows how the MSM are shaping our perception of reality and, in this case, our perception of the threat posed by IS. In that regard, I would very much agree with MB, who calls for reason to prevail in our assessment of what the future holds for us and how to prepare for it.
    On the other hand, one cannot dismiss the possibility of attacks in the West getting worse in the months (and maybe years to come). Our enemy certainly has plans that do not bode well. But let’s not get carried away. What is called for is for cool heads to prevail, even if cool heads may think the time has come to leave a couple hundred bodies in holes somewhere in the desert around Raqqah and Mosul …
    As far as the author of this NYT piece is concerned, and no matter how celebrated she may be as a journalist, I can’t but point out that she has a very partial knowledge of certain intelligence matters and does not even understand basic concepts of counter-intel and CT, despite all her claims to the contrary. Being a geek of IS online progaganda and having access to police reports does not turn you into an expert with years of field experience.
    The Jihadi threat in Europe has a history that is 25 years old and it’s been evolving and changing over that period. No “Telegram” and “Amaq” expertise can make up for having missed parts, if not all of those 25 years.

  28. elkern says:

    So, did ISIS develop their considerable “tradecraft” from scratch, or did they learn much/most from… where/who?
    On another note, I expect ISIS to get smashed in both Iraq and Syria within the next year. Deprived of territory, the “Caliphate” will evaporate. Al-Baghdadi may survive, but loses the mantle of “Defender of Islam”. I don’t think anybody will be worrying much about “ISIS” 5-10 years from now.
    However, I expect some other group(s) to rise from the ashes, as survivors and new radicals coalesce around new leaders (surviving ISIS Lieutenants?). The names change, but the problem – radical Islamist terrorism – will persist for some time, because of:
    – the supply of angry young men with nothing better to do.
    – people stupidly follow ruthless ambitious men
    – Oil money is available to them
    – anarchy in the Middle East, Sahara, etc
    These crazies will continue to occasionally kill people – sometimes spectacularly – outside the miserable deserts they inhabit, but they do NOT pose an existential threat, unless & until they really take over an existing country with technical resources.
    It would behoove us (not just US & Euros, but EVERYBODY else) to keep a tight fence around ISIS & kill as many of the smart guys at the center as possible. Their knowledge – of people, organization, and tradecraft – are the only long-term danger from ISIS.

  29. elkern says:

    Do you really think that liberals value “tolerance” over their own rights to live as they choose? Anybody who recognizes that WOMEN are PEOPLE could never tolerate any kind of hard-core Islam.
    Col Lang has said (something like) that there is no such thing as “liberal” Islam. I still hope he’s wrong.

  30. turcopolier says:

    You have misquoted me. Where did I say that? Under the principle of ijma’ there are a virtually infinite number of conceptions of Islam. pl

  31. Babak Makkinejad,
    I had taken the point that confrontations in the Middle East have had rather a lot of ‘unintended consequences.’
    As to Deobandis.
    Yes. This is one of the – many – reasons why our ‘devil’s pact’ with the Saudis has been blowing up in our faces.
    Any developments which serve to replace more tolerant with less tolerant forms of Islam in Pakistan necessarily reverberate back into Britain.
    This is why our involvement in the war in Afghanistan in the ‘Eighties has turned into a complete disaster for us, one further compounded by our role in the ‘war against terror’.
    It is unfortunate that ‘New Labour’ brought to power one of the stupidest Prime Ministers in British history (perhaps the worst.)
    From an article entitled ‘Who runs our mosques?’ in the ‘Spectator’ in June 2014:
    “Tony Blair justified to the Muslim world the post-9/11 attacks on Afghanistan on the basis that driving out the Taleban would be an act of liberation: ‘I don’t believe,’ he said, ‘that anybody seriously wants to live under that kind of regime.’ Did he realise that the rules enforced by law in Afghanistan were being adopted, voluntarily, in parts of Leicester, Dewsbury and Blackburn? Even the Prime Minister seemed not to know about Deobandi Britain.”
    (See http://www.spectator.co.uk/2014/06/who-runs-our-mosques/ .)

  32. different clue says:

    That sounds like the MSM were highlighting those parts of the interview which could be exploited to argue for Social Media Lockdown and Omni Censorship . . . and for restrictive gun laws.

  33. different clue says:

    Perhaps ISIS learned some of its tradecraft from the Bitter Baathist Iraqi intelligence and secret police people of various kinds who lent their support and advice to ISIS in its early days.

  34. different clue says:

    It takes real money to fund a far flung network of agents and suicide killers in the field properly trained and supported and ready-to-go when the order is given or when the spirit moves them. Where might some real money come from?
    A while ago I remember reading that some ISIS people “took over” a marijuana-producing village in Albania and began buying the allegiance of the local Albanian mafia and criminal operatives involved in this marijuana production. ISIS may be building out from there, buying off and recruiting Albanian mafia soldiers and workmen and killing off any resentful Albanian mafia money-makers in high places who might obstruct ISIS’s efforts to take over more and more lucrative criminal enterprises operating out of Albania. That could let ISIS harvest some real money.
    There is still a story about the “marijuana village takeover” aspect of this on the google, and here it is.
    “Legalize marijuana” won’t be an answer to this problem, first because Europe won’t legalize marijuana fast enough to collapse this illegal marijuana market leaving ISIS holding an empty bag, and secondly because “legalizing marijuana” won’t solve the problem of ISIS taking over other illegal rackets which should STAY illegal because they involve doing bad things.
    What should be done about this? If ISIS could be driven out of the illegal rackets operating from and through Albania, and those illegal rackets turned back over to the traditional Albanian mafias who at least did not give money to ISIS; that would dry up that source of funding for ISIS. Also, the marijuana users of marijuana have a choice to make: either stop using marijuana to make sure of denying further marijuana-money to ISIS, or keep using marijuana and accept the tradeoff of more ISIS terror attacks in Europe paid for with the marijuana money going from European marijuana users to ISIS.
    (This would be a fine time for Holland to make sure, with all the police and applied-violence powers necessary, that every dose of marijuana sold and used withIN Holland was verifiably grown withIN Holland.)

  35. Patrick,
    Thanks for your voice of expertise in this matter. I do share your and Michael Brenner’s view that the jihadis are neither nine feet tall, nor do they lurk in every dark alley across the land. On the other hand, I’ve had some experience with clandestine organizations in both the IC and in a SMU and I know what can be accomplished with a competent clandestine organization such as what Emni seems to be.
    This article certainly did grow legs. Seems Obama referred to Callimachi as an IS authority in his recent speech at the Pentagon about the fight against IS. I find this odd. While I was glad to read the details about the organization of al-Adnani’s Emni in the open press (all that’s available to this retired old man), I assumed the IC and the President had this info and much more quite some time ago. If this isn’t the case, we are in a bad way.

  36. elkern says:

    Please accept my apology. Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve “mis-remembered” something.

  37. VietnamVet says:

    I will rely on Colonel Lang’s expertise and indicate that Western leaders did not directly support the Jihadists and the rise of the Islamic State. But, instead, looked the other way and never gamed out their policies. Clearly the security of American citizens is not worthy of consideration. Corruption is rampart. Saudi Arabia funded the Daesh and the Clinton Global Initiative. A quarter century of bombing is a great recruiting agent. NATO ally Turkey transshipped weapons and recruits to IS and bought pirated oil. Israel supports Jihadist groups in order to keep Muslim tribal enemies fighting each other not them. There is no indication that there is any priority on defeating the Islamic State other than a possible October Surprise to take Raqqa and Mosul. But, taxes haven’t been raised to pay for the war and Armored Divisions are not being mobilized for the attack. From Nigeria through Syria and Afghanistan to Ukraine, there is no end in sight for the chaos. If NATO, Russia and China allied to eliminate the jihadists, the wars would be over in short order and the refugees returned home.

  38. bth says:

    Al-Baghdadi, like Francisco Franco, is still dead.

  39. bth says:

    I wish we had a dozen more Callimachi’s in the ecosphere.

  40. shanks says:

    I believe that’s what they’re doing, funding it with drug money. The epicentre now seems to be Malda, West Bengal, India for SE Asia.
    It’s right next to B’desh and there’s so much cross border infilteration that intel agencies are tracing everything from bombs, counterfeit currency, locally made guns,killers for hire from Malda alone.
    And just googling Malda in google will tell you the kind of lawlessness there.

  41. Wonduk says:

    the role of the “umara” of the various foreign fighter contingents is key, as they control the recruitment. The ex-Baathists might not be the ones in charge. Operations of ISIL rely on contacts with current of former AQ enablers. Ex-Baathists handwriting is few and far between in these attacks. Colonel al-Khleifawi / Haji Bakr might have been an early ex-Baathist key operative, but maybe they did not trust him enough. Would the limited successes not indicate that they have preferred to start from scratch rather than rely on Baathist networks?

  42. The Virginian says:

    Wonduk, good points. In certain cases the notion of what was a Baathist might need to be revisited, as during the 1990s then after 2003 many of Saddam’s cadres exhibited signs of being influenced more by religion (and tribe / family) than the secularists of old (and even then such links did necessarily fully fade away). That said, those joining the Daesh ranks would be exploited by the leadership for their skills, and only given greater responsibility as trust was built over time. As such perhaps a mixed approach. The tensions between the foreign fighter elements and the Iraqi – Syrian members is certainly something to watch (and exploit).

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