Iraq Army Captures Qayyara Oil Region From IS, Abadi Says

Source: Reuters
The Iraqi army has dislodged Islamic State from the Qayyara oil producing region located south of their de facto capital Mosul, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Thursday.

"The liberation of Qayyara is an important step toward achieving the larger goal of restoring Mosul province," according to tweets from Abadi's media office.

Iraqi forces last month captured the Qayyara airbase which it plans to use as a hub to support forces advancing on Mosul, 60 km (38 miles) further north.

Abadi hopes to defeat the group this year by capturing Mosul, the largest city under its control in both Iraq and Syria.

The Qayyara region produces heavy sour crude and has a small refinery to process some of the oil.

Canada Says 180 With Ties to Country Involved in Terrorism Overseas Last Year

Source: The Wall Street Journal
An estimated 180 individuals with ties to Canada left the country and were believed to be involved in terrorist activity at the end of 2015, Canadian government says.

Canada’s public safety department said another 60 people had returned to Canada after allegedly participating in extremist activity abroad. The figures were contained in the government’s 2016 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, which was published online Thursday, and match those provided by the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service during an appearance before a Senate committee earlier this year.

Canada and other western countries have struggled in recent years with how to prevent their residents from traveling abroad to join terrorist groups like Islamic State, as well as what to do with those individuals if they return home.

But the greatest terrorist threat to Canada, the report said, comes from violent extremists living in the country who might become inspired to carry out an attack on Canadian soil.

Earlier this month, a 24-year-old man was killed in a small Ontario community after police received a tip from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation about plans for a potential terror attack. The man, who the police had previously flagged as a security risk but who hadn’t left the country to participate in terror-linked activity, detonated an explosive device when he was confronted by police.

In a separate incident two years earlier, a gunman killed a sentry at a war memorial in Ottawa before entering and firing shots inside Parliament.

The government report identified the number of Canadian women traveling abroad to join Islamic State as a key emerging issue for the force, noting that about one in five so-called extremist travelers from Canada are women. In some cases, women have taken their children to conflict zones, the RCMP said.

“It is often unclear which roles women who travel to Syria perform,” the report said. “The most commonly held assumption is that women travel abroad to marry terrorists, but the reasons for travel and eventual roles vary. Some may occupy secondary roles within terrorist groups, while in other cases they appear to be training and taking part in combat. Some women have also facilitated the travel of others.”

A total of 20 people have been convicted of terrorism offenses under Canada’s criminal code since 2002, and 21 others have been charged, the government report said.

Corrections & Amplifications:
A report on the terrorist threat to Canada was produced by Canada’s public safety department. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated it was produced by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. (Aug. 25, 2016)

Video Surfaces That Offers Glimpse Into ISIS Hostage’s Hell

Source: New York Post

An American aid worker captured by ISIS appears in a newly released proof-of-life video explaining her bleak and terrifying situation, a heart-wrenching glimpse into her hopeless predicament.

In the 10-second clip from 2013, Kayla Mueller, 26, is seen clad in a green hijab with a black scarf wrapped around her head and speaks directly to the camera.

“My name is Kayla Mueller. I need your help. I’ve been here too long and I’ve been very sick and it’s very terrifying here,” the visibly scared hostage says before the clips ends.

Her family provided the video to ABC’s “20/20” news program, which will air the clip Friday as part of a show about Mueller’s captivity.

ISIS emailed the video to Mueller’s friend a month after the aid worker had been seized.

The friend turned the video over to the FBI, which sent agents to Arizona to show the clip to Mueller’s family on Aug. 30, 2013.

In a recent interview with ABC, Mueller’s father, Carl, expresses his shock and disgust upon seeing the video three years ago.

“You just go into almost a catatonic state, I think. You can’t even stand up,” the distraught dad said.

The Islamic State took Mueller hostage in Aleppo, Syria, in August 2013 while she was serving as a humanitarian aid worker in the war-torn country.

She became ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s personal sex slave.

In February 2015, ISIS claimed she was killed during a Jordanian airstrike on the terror group’s stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, but the Pentagon disputed that account.

ISIS then sent Mueller’s family three photos of the young woman deceased, with bruises on her body.

IDF Soldier Kills Own Stabber In Samaria Terror Attack

Source: Breaking Israel News
A combined rock-throwing and stabbing attack against Israeli soldiers was carried out on Wednesday afternoon, near the Jewish community of Yitzhar in Samaria.

According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, the event began when several Palestinians threw rocks at an IDF patrol vehicle from a passing car, shattering a windshield.

The soldiers then gave chase to the vehicle, attempting to catch the attackers, and took it of the road by crashing into it. The terrorists then exited the vehicle, and one of them stabbed a soldier who had been attempting to arrest the attackers. The wounded soldier nevertheless managed to retaliate by shooting and killing his own stabber.

The soldier sustained light stab injuries to his neck and was taken to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva by a military medical team.

The dead attacker was identified by Palestinian sources as Sari Abu-Ghurab, a resident of Qabatiya near Jenin. The other terrorists in the car were apprehended by the IDF force.

Following the attack, the Israeli army closed the road on which the attack was committed to Palestinians.

Earlier on the same day, a Palestinian woman carrying a knife was caught trying to enter the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. Israeli forces arrested the terror suspect during a routine security check at one of the entrances to the contested holy site.

Terror Attacks Driving Up Gun Sales In Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic

Source: Breitbart
Gun sales in Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic are rising and recent terror attacks across Europe are cited as a “general” cause behind the increase.

Some of the recent attacks were perpetrated with firearms–consider Charlie Hebdo (January 7, 2015) and the Bataclan concert hall and other Paris locations (November 13, 2015). Other attacks were carried out with knives and/or machetes–consider London’s Leytonstone Station (December 5, 2015), Magnanville, France (June 13, 2016), and the attack on a priest in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (July 26, 2016). Still more attacks were carried out with unorthodox weapons–consider the truck attack in Nice (July 14, 2016), which took the lives of 84 innocents and left more than 200 others injured. And many other attacks could be listed.

The point is clear–Europeans face a danger that is no long external; perpetrators are among them and ready to attack at any time. And one of the results of these attacks, and the trepidation over future ones, appears to be a new appreciation for self-defense.

According to Reuters, a surge in gun sales is particularly visible in Austria, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. Hanspeter Kruesi–“a police spokesman in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen”–said, “There’s no official explanation for the rise [in gun sales], but in general we see a connection to Europe’s terrorist attacks.”

A 55-year-old Swiss resident who just bought guns for the first time in his life suggested the sense of insecurity created by the attacks was his motivation. Wishing to remain anonymous, the Swiss resident said, “Buying weapons for self-defense won’t protect you from terrorist attacks. Nevertheless these attacks are contributing to a subjective sense of threat, as is the rising pressure from migration and the high crime rate among migrants from the Maghreb.”

And Daniel Wyss–a gun shop owner and president of the Swiss Weapons Dealers’ Association–said, “Nobody says directly: I’m buying a gun because of the attacks in Nice or Munich. But the sum of these events has fostered a general feeling of vulnerability.”

In the Czech Republic, president Milos Zeman is actively encouraging gun ownership. Zeman told Nova TV, “Citizens should be able to arm themselves … in order to be able to act against these terrorists.”

Breitbart News reported that the Alternative for Germany party leader, Frauke Petry, is also defending private gun ownership as a necessary response to the Islamist threat throughout Europe. She stands against any action in Germany that would make it harder for law-abiding citizens to acquire weapons for self-defense.

Mississippi ISIS Recruit Gets 8 Years In Prison

Source: The Epoch Times
A U.S. District judge sentenced a 22-year-old Mississippi man to eight years in prison on Aug. 24 for conspiring to assist the ISIS terrorist group.

Muhammad Dakhlalla pleaded guilty in March to one count of conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization. He was also sentenced to 15 years of probation.

Dakhlalla could have faced up to 20 years in prison, $250,000 in fines, and lifetime probation.

“I was completely wrong about what ISIS was,” Dakhlalla told Judge Sharion Aycock.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re really sick and twisted. They twist Islam for their own agenda. I denounce them. I condemn them.”

Dakhlalla and his fiancee Jaelyn Young had planned to travel to Syria to fight alongside the terrorist group, but those plans were halted when the two were arrested by FBI agents at a Mississippi airport on August of last year.

Prosecutors painted Young as the mastermind who convinced Dakhlalla to join the terrorist organization. Young had converted to Islam while a student at Mississippi State University and became immersed in the violent culture via online videos and websites.

“Young continually asked Dakhlalla when they were going to join (the Islamic State group) and began to express hatred for the U.S. government and to express support for the implementation of Sharia (sic) law in the United States,” prosecutors wrote.

According to court documents, Dakhlalla wanted “to be taught what it really means to have that heart in battle!” However, since Dakhlalla’s arrest, he has had a change of heart.

“The FBI, they really saved my life. I was about to do something reckless and stupid,” he said. “Even if I had been successful in getting over there, I’d probably be dead by now.”

Family spokesman Dennis Harmon said the Mississippi State University graduate will have a new lease on life once he completes his jail term.

“He is a fine young man who did something incredibly stupid,” Harmon said. “He will have a life to reclaim, starting in his 30s.”

Aycock sentenced Young to 12 years in prison on Aug. 11

Queensland Stabbing: British Woman Killed By Attacker Who Allegedly Shouted 'Allahu Akbar'

Source: The Guardian
A French man allegedly cried “Allahu Akbar” during a stabbing attack that left a 21-year-old British woman dead in front of up to 30 onlookers at a backpackers hostel in Australia’s north-east.

The 29-year-old suspect allegedly repeated the phrase – which means God is greatest in Arabic – when arrested by Queensland police, who told of being “confronted with a terrible scene” at the hostel in Home Hill, about 100km (62 miles) south of Townsville, on Tuesday night.

The dead woman was named by Australian and British media as Mia Ayliffe-Chung, from Derbyshire, who was reported to be days into a three-month working holiday in the area after having worked in a bar in the Gold Coast.

Paying tribute, her half-sister Nicola Chung, who lives in south London, told the Guardian: “She was bubbly, carefree and had trained to be a nanny, because she loved children,” she said. “She was just backpacking. She had been travelling for a year and had arrived in Australia.”

Steve Gollschewski, a deputy police commissioner, said the alleged offender’s comments “may be construed as being of an extremist nature” and investigators were working with Australian federal police to establish his motives.

But police were “not ruling out any motivations at this early stage, whether they be criminal or political”.

Investigators would also consider whether “mental health or drug misuse” issues were a factor in the attack alongside any “indication of an extremist slant or he was radicalised”, Gollschewski said at a press conference in Brisbane.

“This is not about race or religion, it is about individual criminal behaviour,” he said.

Police were not searching for anyone else and there was “no ongoing threat to the community”, he said.

It was understood that Ayliffe-Chung had lived in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast and worked as a waitress at the Bedroom Lounge Bar before making the 800-mile trip north to work outdoors.

Her latest Facebook update on 20 August read: “Day 4 done. Just 85 left! Skills achieved; the ability to tell the difference between a rock and a clump of mud and throwing stones really far. The sun is too hot. Stupid Australia.”

She went to Ecclesbourne school in Derbyshire and Anthony Gell school in Wirksworth before studying childcare at Buxton college and psychology at Chesterfield college, according to her profile.

Amy Browne, 19, from the Gold Coast, who worked with Ayliffe-Chung in the Gold Coast, told the Press Association: “Mia was honestly the most bubbliest and most caring girl I knew. She got along with everyone she met, she just had that gorgeous personality that everyone seemed to enjoy.

“She always had a smile on her face, so innocent and full of life and love. Our memories will be cherished for ever and I know she’d want us all to stay positive in the darkest of times.”

Monique Cross, an Australian friend of Ayliffe-Chung, told the Press Association: “She was a gorgeous person. It’s an awful tragedy – I can’t believe it.”

The alleged attack also left a British man, 30, in a critical condition with stabbing wounds. A local man, 47, who intervened suffered non life-threatening injuries and a dog at the hostel was killed.

The French man is in Townsville hospital after being injured. He was arrested at the scene, where police took possession of a knife allegedly used in the attack. The man has been taken into police custody, with charges yet to be laid.

He was not being held under federal anti-terrorist laws but state criminal laws, with investigators were considering charges including murder and attempted murder, Gollschewski said.

The man had been on Australia on a temporary visa since March and appeared to have “no local connections”, the deputy police commissioner said. He was not previously known to police.

Sharon Cowden, an Australian federal police commander, said at the same press conference that while the alleged killer had no known links to extremist groups, investigators would be “speaking to all appropriate international law enforcement” to examine this.

“Any line of inquiry that takes us to international law enforcement we will follow,” she said.

Cowden condemned the attack as a “senseless act of violence”.

Earlier on Wednesday, Supt Ray Rohweder told reporters in Townsville that investigators were “still trying to piece together what has happened – we don’t have a motive yet”.

“Police were confronted with a terrible scene when they arrived,” he said. “There were up to 30 people who witnessed the incident.”

Police had been in contact with the British consulate, which would liaise with the victims’ families, Rohweder said.

The Liberal MP George Christensen, who represents the electorate the hostel is in, could not be reached for comment, but he noted the incident on Twitter.

Bill Byrne, the Queensland minister for police, fire and emergency services, described the incident as “tragic and disturbing”.

“Right now, our thoughts are with the victims’ family and friends and the close knit community of Home Hill,” said Byrne.

Byrne said he remained in contact with the police commissioner and expected more details as the investigation progressed.

“It is important that we allow police to get on with the job of conducting their investigations and more information will be made publicly available once it is known.”

He also urged the public to remember “this is not about race or religion”, but about criminal behaviour.

Ali Kadri, an Islamic Council of Queensland spokesman speaking from a policing symposium in Brisbane, said he had been briefed by a deputy police commissioner and other senior police who were sceptical about a religious motive for the attack.

Kadri called for caution in public discussion before full facts were known, saying speculation about an act of terrorism was “actually empowering the terrorists”.

“We have to be careful about trying to connect every single murder committed by a Muslim to terrorism,” he said. “To speculate it’s (an act of) terrorism … what is going to happen now is Isis are going to pick up on it, they’re going to claim it, and they’re going to look stronger than they are.”

A spokeswoman from the British high commission in Canberra said: “We are working with local authorities and providing support to the families after one British national was killed and another critically injured in an incident in Australia.

“Our thoughts are with the families at this difficult time. High commission staff have deployed to Townsville and we remain in close contact with local authorities.”

French Police Make Woman Remove Clothing On Nice Beach Following Burkini Ban

Source: The Guardian
Photographs have emerged of armed French police confronting a woman on a beach and making her remove some of her clothing as part of a controversial ban on the burkini.

Authorities in several French towns have implemented bans on the burkini, which covers the body and head, citing concerns about religious clothing in the wake of recent terrorist killings in the country.

The images of police confronting the woman in Nice on Tuesday show at least four police officers standing over a woman who was resting on the shore at the town’s Promenade des Anglais, the scene of last month’s Bastille Day lorry attack.

After they arrive, she appears to remove a blue long-sleeved tunic, although one of the officers appears to take notes or issue an on-the-spot fine.

The photographs emerged as a mother of two also told on Tuesday how she had been fined on the beach in nearby Cannes wearing leggings, a tunic and a headscarf.

Her ticket, seen by French news agency AFP, read that she was not wearing “an outfit respecting good morals and secularism”.

“I was sitting on a beach with my family,” said the 34-year-old who gave only her first name, Siam. “I was wearing a classic headscarf. I had no intention of swimming.”

A witness to the scene, Mathilde Cousin, confirmed the incident. “The saddest thing was that people were shouting ‘go home’, some were applauding the police,” she said. “Her daughter was crying.”

Last week, Nice became the latest French resort to ban the burkini. Using language similar to the bans imposed earlier at other locations, the city barred clothing that “overtly manifests adherence to a religion at a time when France and places of worship are the target of terrorist attacks”.

The Nice ban refers specifically to the truck attack in the city on 14 July that claimed 86 lives, as well as the murder 12 days later of a Catholic priest near the northern city of Rouen.

The ban by several towns will come before France’s highest administrative court on Thursday following an appeal by the Human Rights League, a French NGO. It is challenging the decision by a lower court in Nice, which upheld a ban on the outfit by the town of Villeneuve-Loubet.

Villeneuve-Loubet, just west of Nice, was among the first of 15 towns to ban the burkini, triggering a fierce debate in France and elsewhere about the wearing of the full-body swimsuit, women’s rights and secularism.

A Corsican mayor has also banned burkinis, amid tensions on the island and violent clashes between villagers and three Muslim families. Skirmishes at a beach in the commune of Sisco earlier this month left four people injured and resulted in riot police being brought in to stop a crowd of 200 Corsicans marching into a housing estate with a high population of people of North African origin, shouting “this is our home”.

A police investigation is under way to determine the cause of the violent brawl, although there has been no confirmation from authorities as to whether anyone on the beach was wearing a burkini at the time.

Nevertheless the local Socialist mayor, Ange-Pierre Vivoni, banned the garments, describing the measure as necessary to “protect the population”.

The Nice tribunal ruled on Monday that the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet was “necessary, appropriate and proportionate” to prevent public disorder after a succession of jihadi attacks in France.

The burkini was “liable to offend the religious convictions or (religious) non-convictions of other users of the beach,” and “be felt as a defiance or a provocation exacerbating tensions felt by” the community, it added.

The ruling by the state council, France’s highest administrative court, will provide a legal precedent for towns to follow around the country.

Royal Marine Arrested Over Suspected Northern Ireland Terrorist Plot

Source: The Guardian
A serving member of the Royal Marines has been arrested on the orders of security officials trying to stop Irish terrorists staging attacks against Britain.

There were also searches of woodlands in rural south Devon suspected of containing bombs and weapons smuggled from Ulster.

Wednesday’s dramatic day of activity included the arrest of the 30-year-old marine, named locally as Ciaran Maxwell, and a security operation spanning a swath of the south of Britain and Northern Ireland involving four police forces and the domestic intelligence service, MI5.

It is understood the genesis of the incidents was the discovery in March, and then May, of arms dumps in County Antrim belonging to dissident republicans, called the New IRA, which police in Northern Ireland had hailed as significant. The weapons caches were discovered by chance by members of the public. Among the deadly items were pipe bombs, magazines and ammunition for an assault rifle, and anti-personnel mines.

The find and subsequent inquiries led security officials to decide in May that the threat to the British mainland from Irish terrorism needed to be raised to substantial and a race was begun to trace all those connected to the arms dumps before they could stage attacks.

At 12.20pm on Wednesday, police arrested the marine in Somerset for alleged involvement in preparing acts of terrorism. Police said searches were under way in “a wooded area in south Devon” and in Northern Ireland.

The searches in south Devon were for materials linked to republican terrorism, such as weapons or material related to explosives, which may have come from the terrorist haul linked to finds in Co Antrim. Officers are potentially looking for storage dumps where material that could be used in an attack may have been hidden.

In a statement, police said: “Today’s arrest was planned and intelligence-led as part of an investigation into Northern Ireland-related terrorism being led by SO15 [Met’s counter-terrorism command] in collaboration with Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the south west counter-terrorism intelligence unit. No armed police were involved in today’s arrest.

“The public can be reassured that there is no intelligence to suggest an immediate threat to our communities.”

Past targets for dissident republicans in Northern Ireland have been figures of the state such as prison officers, military and police officers.

The threat from dissident republican terrorism has become increasingly potent and they are gaining in the capability to stage attacks in England and other parts of the UK, as well as Northern Ireland.

The arrest is understood to be linked to the two suspected dissident republican arsenals uncovered in Carnfunnock and Capanagh parks near Larne within three months of each other.

An armour-piercing improvised rocket and two anti-personnel mines were among the cache recovered at Capanagh in May.

Police said four barrels were unearthed at Carnfunnock – two barrels were empty but two others contained a variety of bomb-making components, including wiring, toggle switches, circuit boards, partially constructed timer power units, ball bearings and a small quantity of explosives.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said: “We are aware of a police investigation involving the arrest of a member of the armed forces under the 2000 Terrorism Act and will assist this investigation fully. It would be inappropriate to comment further on an ongoing investigation.”

PSNI searches on Wednesday were focused on a stretch of terraced homes on the Old Glenarm Road in Larne.

The fact that police chiefs decided there was no need to send armed officers suggests they did not believe the suspect had access to a firearm.

The timing of the arrest was unusual. Police usually prefer to mount counter-terrorism raids in the early morning, for the element of surprise and to minimise the chances of a suspect fleeing.

Devon and Cornwall police were helping counter-terrorism police search the south Devon woods, while Avon and Somerset officers were helping with searches of an address in Somerset.

The police operations in England were led by SO15.

Shooting Terrorizes Students At The American University Of Afghanistan

Source: The Guardian
An attack at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul has left at least one dead and fourteen wounded after what is deemed a “complex” gun and bomb attack, according to officials.

Students barricaded themselves in classrooms, using chairs to secure the doors. Nine students were able to escape using the northern entrance.

According to officials, a car bomb detonated outside of a school for the blind before an armed attacker fired at the university. According to police spokesperson Sediq Sediqqui, it is not clear whether there were one or two attackers.

As of now, a terrorist group has not claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the Taliban have been attempting to overthrow the Kabul government for fifteen years.

The U.S Embassy is currently working to account for all of its personnel, according to Elizabeth Trudeau, the State Department spokesperson. The U.S military will be assisting the Afghan forces who responded to the attack. The United States will not be taking a combat role, according to officials.

According to local media, the gunfire has stopped but emergency services are still working to extinguish the fire.