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‘Grave concern’ over Chinese teachers reportedly killed by ISIS in Pakistan – YourErie

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(CNN) – China has expressed “grave concern” over reports that ISIS has killed two Chinese teachers kidnapped in Pakistan.

The man and woman, said by Chinese media to be a couple, were kidnapped by armed men on May 24 from the city of Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, on May 24 on their way to teach a Chinese language class, a senior security officer told CNN last month.

Amaq, a news agency affiliated with ISIS, said Thursday that Islamic State fighters had killed two Chinese teachers who were being held in the Mastung, Balochistan. The group also released a video, which showed two bodies shot and bleeding on some grassy ground.

“China resolutely opposes all forms of kidnapping of civilians and opposes all forms of terrorism and extreme acts of violence,” said Hua Chunying, the spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Friday.

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was “working to confirm authenticity of the reports of killing of two Chinese nationals, kidnapped in Quetta.”

The deaths underscore the risks of China’s growing international reach and influence. The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, said that guarding Chinese nationals overseas had become a new and serious challenge for national security.

“As China’s international influence is growing, terrorist organizations target Chinese for ransom or just to create a sensation. Cases of Chinese being kidnapped have increased,” the paper said in an editorial.

Chinese nationals have settled in Pakistan in greater numbers since the announcement of a $46 billion investment plan known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015 — part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative.

“Given Pakistan’s complex security situation, both sides need to study and formulate a more comprehensive security plan to fully cover Chinese in Pakistan,” the Global Times added.

Hua said authorities had been trying to rescue the hostages.

Pakistan’s military said Thursday that its security forces conducted an operation from June 1 to 3 in Mastung, where it said it killed 12 terrorists with links to ISIS that had been hiding in caves but didn’t mention the abducted Chinese teachers.

Balochistan is home to the Gwador Port Complex, a flagship project of the economic corridor, but has been plagued by violence by different militant groups including the Pakistani Taliban and a separatist movement.

Pakistan views CPEC, a combination of infrastructure projects ranging from road networks, a fiber optic cable project, railway lines, a deep-sea port, coal mines and solar farms, as a huge opportunity to develop its economy.

Pakistan is home to roughly 20,000 Chinese, according to Mustafa Hyder, chief executive of the Pakistan-China Institute.

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US military in Mideast hindered by Saudis’ rift with Qatar: Tillerson – ABC News

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries Friday to immediately take steps to de-escalate the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, which he said is hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS, President Donald Trump continued his criticism of Qatar for what he portrayed as that country’s role in funding terrorism.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and two other countries cut diplomatic ties with their neighbor, Qatar, early this week, accusing the small nation of supporting organizations they regard as terrorist, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The nations withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar and cut off air, sea and land travel to the peninsular nation, which is rich in oil but depends heavily on imported food.

Tillerson began his remarks at the State Department with a tough message for Qatar to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors. He said Qatar has historically supported groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression from activism to violence.

But the secretary of state also called on Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar, which he said is causing unintended humanitarian consequences such as forcibly separating families and creating food shortages.

President Trump, speaking at the White House later in the day Friday, took a somewhat different tack.

Trump bashed Qatar as a “funder of terrorism at a very high level” and called on it to stop funding terrorist organizations.

“For Qatar, we want you back among the unity of responsible nations,” Trump said. “We ask Qatar and other nations in the region to do more and do it faster.”

A senior administration official downplayed any divergence between Trump and Tillerson’s remarks in the aftermath, characterizing any perceived difference in their stance on Qatar as a “misperception.” The official said that Trump supports easing the blockade for humanitarian reasons and would like to build a productive relationship with the emir of Qatar.

Tillersons earlier statement that the “blockade” of Qatar is hurting U.S. economic and military efforts in the region contradicts Pentagon officials insistence earlier in the week that there has been no impact on U.S. operations in Qatar, or the fight against ISIS.

Qatar hosts one of the largest U.S. military bases in the Middle East, where about 9,000 U.S. and other service members in the global coalition against ISIS are deployed

There has been no impact on our operations either in Qatar or with regards to airspace permission around it and we dont anticipate there will be, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said on Tuesday.

Similarly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Monday that he was positive there will be no implications coming out of this dramatic situation. Also on Monday, Tillerson said he did not expect that this will have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified fight against terrorism in the region or globally.

In Tillerson’s speech, he said that although the emir has made progress halting financial support for terrorist elements and expelling them from the country, he must do more and he must do it more quickly.

He said the U.S. supports the emir of Kuwait in his efforts to resolve the conflict and closed by calling upon the Gulf Cooperation Council — a regional political alliance between Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — to reaffirm the spirit of the summit attended by Trump three weeks ago, during which all of the countries committed to fight against terrorism.

Tillerson said that after speaking with Gulf leaders it is clear that the elements of a solution are available and that the U.S. expects that these countries will immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation and put forth a good faith effort to resolve their grievances they have with each other.

Qatar has disputed the claim that it funds terrorists, with its Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying in English on its website that they are “unfounded allegations” and that the actions taken against it by its neighboring nations are “not justified.”

ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps and Adam Kelsey contributed to this report.

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Twin Attacks Hit Iran’s Parliament And Khomeini Mausoleum …

Police officers run to take position around Iran’s parliament building in Tehran after an assault by several attackers. Four attackers reportedly reached the building’s interior, and an explosion was heard, although it was unclear whether it was a suicide bomb or a grenade. Ali Khara/AP hide caption

Police officers run to take position around Iran’s parliament building in Tehran after an assault by several attackers. Four attackers reportedly reached the building’s interior, and an explosion was heard, although it was unclear whether it was a suicide bomb or a grenade.

Two teams of attackers used gunfire and explosives to strike Iran’s parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran on Wednesday, according to state media. The twin attacks killed at least 12 people and wounded 42 others.

“Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaqari said that the terrorists had entered the parliament in [women’s] dress,” Iran’s state news agency reports. It adds that a female assailant detonated herself outside the mausoleum.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry says it foiled a third attack and is asking people to avoid public transportation, state broadcaster IRIB reports.

The Islamic State, via its Amaq News Agency, claimed responsibility for the attacks, NPR’s Alison Meuse reports.

In addition to the dual attacks claimed by ISIS on the parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Iranian intelligence says it foiled a third attack. Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption

In addition to the dual attacks claimed by ISIS on the parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Iranian intelligence says it foiled a third attack.

Alison translated the extremist group’s message to: “Fighters from the Islamic State have attacked the Khomeini shrine and the parliament building in central Tehran.”

The message quotes an ISIS “security source,” which Alison says is typical for such claims.

In an unusual move, the group also released a short video that it said was taken by one of the attackers inside parliament. In it, a gunman is seen leaving an office area where a man lies wounded and not moving on the floor. A security siren and gunfire are heard as men yell in Arabic.

At the parliament building, four attackers reached the interior, where they shot at security guards, according to IRIB. It says one of the attackers exploded a suicide vest inside the building, though other local news agencies said the explosion may have been caused by grenades thrown by the attackers.

The second attack at the shrine of Khomeini, the nation’s first supreme leader came within an hour of the assault on the legislature. Assailants reportedly killed a security guard and wounded 12 other people, and a suicide bomber also detonated an explosive vest. Four attackers were said to have targeted the shrine.

Despite the violence at Iran’s parliament Wednesday morning, lawmakers returned to business by the afternoon. Officials say the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps helped security forces control the situation.

“As you know, some coward terrorists infiltrated a building in Majlis [Parliament], but they were seriously confronted,” Speaker Ali Larijani said. “This is a minor issue but reveals that the terrorists pursue troublemaking.”

The U.S. State Department offered condolences to victims and their families, saying in a statement, “The depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world.”

Iran is deeply involved in the fight against ISIS, both in Iraq and Syria, and along with Russia is a major backer of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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Syrian Accused of Working for ISIS News Agency Is Arrested in Germany – New York Times

Syrian Accused of Working for ISIS News Agency Is Arrested in Germany
New York Times
Analysts had long suspected that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, had media operatives on different continents and across time zones, both because of the rapid response of its statements and because its claims are frequently translated

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China ‘Gravely Concerned’ After ISIS Reports Murder of Two Hostages in Pakistan – Newsweek

China said on Friday it was “gravely concerned” atIslamicStateclaims that the group killed two Chinese teachers it kidnapped in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province last month, where Beijing is investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects.

China said it was working to verify the claim.

Armed men pretending to be policemen kidnapped the two language teachers in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern province, on May 24.

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The kidnapping was a rare security incident involving Chinese nationals in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged $57 billion under its massive “Belt and Road” initiative to build rail, road and power infrastructure.

China says Pakistan is a major part of its plans to build a modern day “Silk Road” network of land and maritime routes to connect Asia with Africa and Europe. Key parts of the infrastructure will be in Baluchistan, including the new port of Gwadar, which will be linked to western China under current plans.

The killing of the teachers was claimed byIslamicState’s Amaq news agency on Thursday.

“IslamicStatefighters killed two Chinese people they had been holding in Baluchistan province, southwest Pakistan,” Amaq said.

A Baluchistan government spokesman said officials were in the process of confirming whether the report was correct.

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed grave concern.

“We have been trying to rescue the two kidnapped hostages over the past days. The Chinese side is working to learn about and verify relevant information through various channels, including working with Pakistani authorities,” the ministry said in a shortstatement.

“The Chinese side is firmly opposed to the acts of kidnapping civilians in any form, as well as terrorism and extreme violence in any form,” it said.

There was no immediate comment from Pakistan’s interior ministry or its foreign office.

Chinesestate-run newspaper the Global Times, published by the official People’s Daily, said in an editorial on Friday China would never bow in the face of terror, but also said Chinese people should also exercise greater caution abroad, especially in more remote areas.

“They also need to raise their ability to protect themselves, and as much as possible put distance between themselves and real danger,” it said.

China has not formally identified the two teachers. Chinese media has cited foreign media reports as identifying the two as a man and a woman who worked for a private language school.

The claim of the killings sparked anger on Chinese social media, with some strongly anti-Muslim comments.

IslamicState, which controls some territory in neighbouring Afghanistan, has struggled to establish a presence in Pakistan. However, it has claimed several major attacks, including one on the deputy chairman of the Senate last month in Baluchistan, in which 25 people were killed.

On Thursday, Pakistan’s military published details of a three-day raid on a militant hideout in a cave not far from Quetta, saying it had killed 12 “hardcore terrorists” from a banned local Islamist group and preventedIslamicStatefrom gaining a “foothold” in Baluchistan.

China’s ambassador to Pakistan and other officials have often urged Islamabad to improve security, especially in Baluchistan.

The numbers of Pakistanis studying Mandarin has skyrocketed since 2014, when President Xi Jinping signed off on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Consequently, any attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan would come as an embarrassment to Islamabad, which greatly prizes its relationship with Beijing. The two refer to each other as “all weather friends”.

Security in Baluchistan has improved in recent years, but separatists, who view infrastructure projects as a ruse to steal natural resources, killed 10 Pakistani workers building a road near the new port of Gwadar this month, a key part of the economic corridor.

China has also expressed concern about militants in Pakistan linking up with what China views as separatists in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have been killed in violence in recent years.

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Virginia man who joined ISIS to check things out will be jailed – VICE News

If youre going to join ISIS, you might want to have a better reason than just to check things out. A Virginia man who said that was why he briefly joined the extremistgroup was convicted on terrorism charges Wednesday and faces a minimum of five years behind bars.

Mohamad Khweis, a 27-year-old former Metro Access bus driver in Fairfax County, quit his job, sold his car and traveled to Iraq and Syria in December 2015 entirely undetected by U.S. intelligence agencies.

He wanted to find out how they could justify some of this stuff, Khweis defense attorney John Zwerling argued in court, according to the Washington Post. Its not a crime to explore, to try to see some of this information for yourself.

Khweis was smuggled across the Turkish border after which he stayed in an ISIS safe house in Raqqa, Syria, and pledged to be a suicide bomber during the ISIS intake process, according to a statement released by the Justice Department.

But after two and a half months oftraining in different safe houses, Khweis got cold feet and surrendered to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq.

Hello, can you please help me, Khweis claimed he said, according to the Post. Im an American. … I want to go back home.

A Virginia federal districtcourtwithin hours convicted Khweis of providing and conspiring to provide material support to ISIS, for which he could be given a maximum penalty of life in prison.

No one joins an organization like the Islamic State, that is renowned for its terror, its lethality, its brutality, just to check it out, said Raj Parekh, a DOJtrial attorney in his closing arguments, according to the Post. This is not a tourist destination; this is not an amusement park … He knew exactly what he was getting himself into.

Like an overwhelming majority of American ISIS recruits, Khweis admitted to watching extremist ISIS videos online, according to the complaint filed by the Justice Department.

In 2015, a congressional report estimated that over 250 Americans had joined or tried to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Between March 2014 and August 2016, there were at least 112 cases of individuals who perpetrated ISIS-related offenses indicted by the U.S. Justice Department, according to a separate study by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST).

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to totally obliterate ISIS and to keep ISIS fighters the hell out of our country.

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IRAN ATTACK: ISIS claims responsibility for pair of assaults …

ISIS claimed responsibility for a pair of Wednesday attacks in Tehran in which suicide bombers and teams of gunmen stormed Iran’s parliament and the nearby shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, killing at least 12 and injuring dozens of others.

This is the first attack orchestrated by ISIS in the Islamic Republic, SITE Intel Group reported. It wasn’t initially clear if the death count, reported by state broadcaster IRIB, included the attackers.

In a rare and stunning move, ISIS released video from inside the parliament building while the attack was under way. The video, circulated online, shows a gunman and a bloody, lifeless body of a man lying on the ground next to a desk. A voice on the video praises God and says in Arabic: “Do you think we will leave? We will remain, God willing.” Another voice repeats the same words. The two appeared to be parroting a slogan used by IS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who was killed in Syria last year.

The parliament assault ended Wednesday morning with all four attackers there being killed.

“Iranian nation moves on, today the fumbling with firecrackers in #Tehran, won’t affect the will of our nation,” Ayatollah Kahmenei wrote in a tweet.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said “the depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world.”

One of the terrorists blew himself up inside the parliament building, where a session had been in progress, according to a statement carried by Iran state TV. It quoted lawmaker Elias Hazrati as saying the attackers were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles.

An Associated Press reporter saw several police snipers on the rooftops of buildings around parliament. Shops in the area were shuttered, and gunfire could be heard. Witnesses said the attackers were shooting from the fourth floor of the parliament building down at people in the streets below.

“I was passing by one of the streets. I thought that children were playing with fireworks, but I realized people are hiding and lying down on the streets,” Ebrahim Ghanimi, who was around the parliament building when the assailants stormed in, told The Associated Press. “With the help of a taxi driver, I reached a nearby alley.”

Police helicopters circled over the parliament building and all mobile phone lines from inside were disconnected. The semi-official ISNA news agency said all entrance and exit gates at parliament were closed and that lawmakers and reporters were ordered to remain in place inside the chamber.

State TV reported four attackers were involved in the parliament attack.

Iran’s official state broadcaster said a security guard was killed and four people wounded in the shrine attack. It said one of the attackers at the shrine was killed by security guards and that a woman was arrested. It described the shrine attackers as “terrorists” and said one carried out a suicide bombing, without providing further details.

In addition to being lethal, the attack on the shrine of Khomeini is symbolically stunning. As Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Khomeini is a towering figure in the country and was its revolutionary leader in the 1979 ouster of the shah.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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How the ISIS attack on Iran may escalate regional conflict – PBS NewsHour

JUDY WOODRUFF: We return to the attacks in Iran, the implications and consequences, and the wider picture in a greatly unsettled region.

In a moment, William Brangham will speak with experts on those questions.

But, to begin, chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports on todays terror in Tehran that left 13 dead and more than 40 wounded.

MARGARET WARNER: It was mid-morning when the first shots echoed from the Iranian Parliament building. Gunmen, some reportedly dressed as women, stormed in with rifles and suicide vests. At least one blew himself up outside the Parliament chamber. Another ran back outside and began firing in the streets.

MOHAMMAD SHAHI, Shop Owner (through interpreter): When we were close to the Parliament in a taxi, there were more gunfire sounds. People were panicked and started running away and seeking shelter.

MARGARET WARNER: The resulting siege with police went on for hours. Near the same time, the shrine of Irans revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, was hit.

Authorities say that, in the end, six attackers were killed and five arrested. The Islamic State group immediately claimed responsibility, the first time the Sunni extremist group has struck successfully inside Shiite Iran. The militants put out video of the assault while it was still under way.

One attacker says: Do you think we will go away? No. We will remain, God willing.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republics supreme leader, was defiant.

AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, Supreme Leader of Iran (through translator): The firecracker play that took place today will have no effect on the peoples will. However, these incidents proved that if the Islamic republic had not resisted at the epicenter of these seditions in Iraq and Syria, we would be dealing with many troubles caused by them inside the country now.

MARGARET WARNER: But Charlie Winter of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College, London, says that, for ISIS, attacking Iran is like taking the crown jewel.

CHARLIE WINTER, International Center for the Study of Radicalization: Striking Iran like this is akin to striking the United States or Israel. I mean, this is really a huge symbolic victory for the Islamic State. In terms of its propaganda, I think the group will be talking about this moment for years to come.

MARGARET WARNER: This attack comes as ISIS is under pressure from Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq, as well as from the U.S.-backed coalition. The ISIS-controlled Iraqi city of Mosul has all but fallen to government forces, aided by the Shiite militias.

And, in Syria, U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters have opened a full-on assault to reclaim the Islamic States capital, Raqqa.

It also occurs amidst a spike in the tense rivalry between Iran and the Sunni Arab states led by Saudi Arabia. Last month, President Trump rallied Arab nations to oppose terror, and Iran especially. And, on Monday, the Saudis and others cut ties to Qatar, citing, in part, its ties to Iran.

Moreover, just hours before todays attack, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir Iran quote must be punished for its interference in the region.

After the attacks, Irans Revolutionary Guard accused the Saudis, saying: The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they, the Saudis, were involved.

Charlie Winter says this turn of events further complicates regional politics and the fight against ISIS.

CHARLIE WINTER: Regional politics are kind of balancing on a knife edge at the moment. The more actors there are involved in this war, the more confusing itll get, the more bogged down states around the world will get.

MARGARET WARNER: In a statement this afternoon, the White House voiced sympathy for the victims, but said states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.

For the PBS NewsHour, Im Margaret Warner.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So what does this first ever ISIS attack inside actually Iran mean, and how might Tehran respond?

To help us with that, Im joined by two people with deep knowledge of Iran and its role in the region.

Randa Slim is director of the Track II Dialogues Initiative at the Middle East Institute. And Karim Sadjadpour is a senior fellow in the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Welcome to you both.

Randa Slim, I would like to start with you.

I wonder if you could just help us give us your sense, your first reaction to this attack and, in particular, why you believe, perhaps, these two targets were chosen in Tehran.

RANDA SLIM, Middle East Institute: Well, they are important symbols for Iranian Islamic Republic.

And they especially the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, the attack outside it is something that is seen by the ISIS community, or the community that is pro-ISIS, as being an important symbol to attack because it symbolizes the heart and the founder of the Islamic Republic.

And so it is a first attack claimed by ISIS in Iran. They have been trying to do this attack for some time. And I think the fact that they have been able to succeed today will not diminish Iranian regime resolve to fight ISIS in Iraq, for example, although I have to say, in Syria, they are not devoting much resources to fighting ISIS, letting the Americans lead that fight, and instead fighting mostly devoting their resources to fight the Syrian opposition, the non-jihadi Syrian opposition.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Karim, what was you first reaction when you heard about this?

KARIM SADJADPOUR, Carnegie Endowment For International Peace: Well, Iran has been heavily invested in regional conflicts over the last six years.

As Randa mentioned, in Syria, they have poured billions of dollars. They have a thousand casualties, likewise in Iraq. They have trained Shia militias in Yemen. But they have been largely immune to the casualties in the Middle East. The Iranian people havent suffered the same way as peoples in the region have suffered.

So this was a major breach in Tehran. But I still think the fact that Iran is a country which is about 90 percent Shiite Muslim, the city of Tehran is probably over 95 percent Shia Muslim, I dont think that ISIS is going to continue to be able to make these kinds of attacks in Iran, because they dont have the reservoir of support in Iran that they may have elsewhere in the Arab world.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, Randa, as we heard in Margaret Warners package at the beginning, ISIS hitting Iran in particular was like them stealing the crown jewels.

For those of us who dont understand, why is that such an attractive target to them?

RANDA SLIM: ISIS represents a the Salafi jihadi wing of radical radical wing of Sunni Islam.

And this is a form of Sunni Islam that looks at Shias, which is the main religion of Iran, as being apostates. And they look at their vision of Islam, and their mission of Islam is to cleanse Islam of these apostates, meaning the Shia.

But, also, ISIS is fighting for its survival. This is ISIS basically staking a claim in the leadership of this Sunni radical jihadi form of Sunni Islam, even after they are defeated in Mosul and after they are defeated in Raqqa.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Karim, we saw that, even though ISIS did claim responsibility for this, Iran immediately blamed Saudi Arabia for this attack. What do you make of that accusation?

KARIM SADJADPOUR: Well, Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been accusing one another of fueling ISIS.

For the Iranians, ISIS is a byproduct of Saudi Wahhabist ideology and Saudi financing. To the Saudis, ISIS is a byproduct of Iranian support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Shia militias in Iraq which are killing Sunnis en masse.

The reality is that ISIS poses a grave threat to Iran, but an even graver threat to Saudi Arabia. So, in theory, these two countries actually have a mutual adversary in ISIS. But what Iran has been doing which I think is quite dangerous is conflating Saudi Arabia and ISIS.

And they put their finger on something which has a powerful resonance amongst Iranians. And whether youre a Shiite cleric living in (INAUDIBLE) or a secular Iranian opponent of the regime living in Los Angeles, there is this kind of Persian nationalism against Saudi Arabia.

Theyre trying to harness that. But whats dangerous about that is not that they blamed Saudi Arabia for this attack and they vowed retaliation. This really has a danger of escalating this huge regional war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has really eclipsed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its destabilization on the Middle East.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Randa, as you heard Karim mention here, very strong tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. We also have a proxy war going on between the two nations in Yemen.

Do you think that this attack today I guess Im asking, are we getting potentially closer to an all-out conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

RANDA SLIM: Look, this attack definitely contributes to further escalation in an already volatile region and in an already tense relationship between the two regional powers.

And as we have seen in the past, when Iran and Saudi Arabia fight or escalate their fight, it doesnt stay with Saudi Arabia and Iran. It reverberates throughout the region, and because one way by which they wage this competition between them is through proxy fights in the rest of the region, be it in Yemen, be it in Syria, be it in Iraq, or even be it in Lebanon.

And so we are likely to see as tensions and as things escalate between the two countries, we are likely to see that being played out again in Yemen and being played out in Syria and being played out in Iraq.

Whats problematic here is that, instead of the two regional countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia, focusing their resources and working together on fighting a common economy to both of them, which is ISIS, we are seeing this now escalation in the relations between them, leading both to divert their resources and their attention from the real joint enemy, which is ISIS, and focusing it on waging this fight and this competition between them in different proxy sites around the region.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Karim, I wonder what you believe the Trump administrations response to all this is going to be.

KARIM SADJADPOUR: The Trump administration has gone back to kind of the status quo ante U.S. policy, which is cooperation with Saudi Arabia and containment of Iran.

I oftentimes think that President Trump views this as just simply siding with one team against another, and thats a dangerous recipe in the Middle East.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Karim Sadjadpour, Randa Slim, thank you both very much.

KARIM SADJADPOUR: Thank you, William.

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ISIS counting on anti-Muslim backlash ‘to sharpen the divide,’ experts warn – ABC News

As ISIS claims responsibility for one attack after another, experts warn that understanding the terrorist groups geopolitical, ideological and religious motivations are crucial to stopping it.

The U.S.-backed military offensive to retake ISIS-held areas of Iraq and Syria, coupled with propaganda during the holy month of Ramadan, could be contributing to the recent increase in attacks in Europe.

Experts also say an ongoing directive from the group’s leaders for believers to fight with whatever is available and anti-Muslim backlash in Western societies after such attacks may also play a key role.

“I think you’ve seen a slight uptick right now because ISIS has put out a message to its followers saying, ‘Don’t come to Syria, don’t come to Iraq, stay at home and create a problem,'” Jeffrey Ringel, a director at the Soufan Group and 21-year veteran of the FBI, told ABC News.

“That message came out about a year ago when it became more difficult for people to go there. ISIS was losing its land mass, they were losing their caliphate, so the leader of ISIS basically encouraged followers to stay home and attack Westerners in their own backyards,” Ringel added.

There’s no doubting ISIS’s shrinking land mass.

By early Tuesday morning, fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces had retaken nearly 4 square miles outside of the city of Raqqa as part of their latest offensive against ISIS. And Iraqi forces had successfully fought to retake about 190 square miles from ISIS near Mosul, according to a May 5 U.S. Department of Defense news release.

ISIS propaganda during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims around the world devote time to fasting, studying the Quran and cleansing their spirit, is also a factor, according to Joby Warrick, author of “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS” and the national security reporter for the Washington Post. The group has been encouraging its followers to commit violent acts during Ramadan since at least 2015, and violence has spiked during the holiday in the past.

“When you follow their propaganda online, it’s almost like a PR campaign that has sort of promotional cycles,” Warrick said. “They have now, for a couple of years, emphasized Ramadan as a holy time, so when people are fasting and thinking holy thoughts, they should also carry out attacks against convenient targets.”

“Essentially, it’s like, ‘It’s the holiday season, it’s time to consecrate yourself to Allah by killing someone.’ That’s kind of what we are seeing right now,” Warrick added of the monthlong holiday that began May 26.

But violence is not a fundamental part of Islam, said Carla Power, author of “If the Oceans Were Ink” about a yearlong examination of the Quran in which she engaged with Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, an influential scholar and imam.

“These groups are a tiny, tiny minority of really fringe elements who are rejected overwhelmingly by mainstream imams and Muslims,” Power told ABC News. “I do draw the line at saying they’re not connected to Islam at all because, clearly, they’re wrapping themselves in the flag and the language of Islam. But they’re trying to give legitimacy to what is effectively criminal behavior and a highly political land grab.”

Fundamental misunderstanding of and the desire to equate the beliefs of all Muslims with those of ISIS plays directly into the terrorist group’s strategy, Warrick said.

“They want to raise this Muslim army, and they commit terrorism attacks abroad in order to sharpen the divide and make it harder for Muslims in their adopted homes,” he said. “Not because young Muslims are necessarily going to be inspired by the terrorist acts but because they anticipate that there will be a backlash against Muslims; that it will be so painful to be a Muslim in a place like London because of regulation or discrimination or people looking at you like you’re dangerous because you’re Muslim.

“All of that drives a wedge between Muslims and makes them uncomfortable in the places that they live, and thus more apt to join [ISIS’s] side,” Warrick added.

ISIS rose out of the group that once called itself al-Qaeda in Iraq, Warrick said. It was previously run by the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom the U.S. Air Force killed in a bombing raid in Iraq in 2006.

“This figure, al-Zarqawi was really a loser and a nobody who history would never have heard of except for the fact that the U.S. decided to invade Iraq in 2003, Warrick said. The invasion give him this platform that he always wanted, and dismantling the Iraqi government and armed forces gave him an army of unhappy former colonels and majors who wanted to fight the Americans and now had a leader to command them.

That was kind of the original sin that allowed this group to flower: everything from what it professes to its use of the internet to its brutal displays of violence.”

Warrick said al-Zarqawi was initially rejected by al-Qaeda because he was too extreme.

“Bin Laden tried to personally rein them in and get them to stop doing things like beheading people on the internet, and they insisted on going their own way,” Warrick said. “This rift that started between al-Zarqawi and bin Laden is still the rift that exists between al-Qaeda and ISIS.”

After al-Zarqawi’s 2006 death, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over and the group was renamed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The group was able to take advantage of the chaos resulting from Syria’s civil war and the Arab Spring to gain a foothold.

ISIS believes that it is responsible for creating a caliphate, or state governed by an Islamic ruler and religious successor to the Prophet Mohammed, on earth, according to the group’s leader, al-Baghdadi.

The group has forcibly taken over land in Syria and Iraq to achieve that aim. ISIS’s treatment of religious minorities, including Yazidis and Christians, has been especially brutal, according to Matthew Barber, a Ph.D. student studying Islamic thought and history at the University of Chicago who has worked extensively with minorities in Iraq.

“IS jihadists reject the legitimacy of all worldviews that differ from their own. This orientation is inimical to any form of religious diversity or pluralism,” Barber told ABC News via email. “The goal of this movement to cleanse society of any perspective contradicting their supremacist doctrine — as well as their penchant for pillaging the wealth of their neighbors — has made life impossible for religious minorities in areas under their control.”

ISIS fighters have engaged in beheadings, systematic rape and mass killings.

In their genocide against the Yazidis, for instance, ISIS fighters went about “slaughtering all adult males who refused to be force-converted to Islam, and sexually enslaving over 3,000 women and girls,” Barber said.

Unlike other terrorist groups, ISIS is fundamentally apocalyptic, Warrick said.

“This is not like al-Qaeda. You can almost think of them as part of a doomsday cult because they really do see the world heading to an end and they are part of it,” Warrick said. “They see themselves as marching on the side of righteousness toward the cataclysm, which is this big fight between the rest and Islam.”

ISIS fighters believe they have an important role to play in the end of the world, which will begin when Western forces and Muslims fight in the town of Dabiq, Syria.

“Way before they became known as the Islamic State, they were fixated on this idea that there was going to be an Armageddon-like battle. Their successes encouraged them to believe that this was all happening, that the prophecy was going to be fulfilled,” Warrick said. “That complicates things for us because these are fanatics; they can’t be negotiated with.”

Anti-ISIS forces reclaimed the Syrian town of Dabiq in October of last year. Offensives to retake the ISIS strongholds of Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, mean that the group’s territory is shrinking.

That might also explain why it is increasingly eager to claim responsibility for attacks abroad: they help the group maintain influence even as it loses land, the Soufan Groups Ringel said.

“I think ISIS likes to say, ‘Look how powerful we are.’ ISIS always claims responsibility for attacks that happen anywhere in the world, but then when you go back to look at it, there is no association with ISIS. So it’s ISIS trying to claim credit for something they didn’t do,” Ringel said.

In September of 2014, an ISIS spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, released a statement urging his followers to use whatever was at their disposal to attack other people wherever they are.

“If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him,” al-Adnani said. “If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or business. Or destroy his crops. If you are unable to do so, then spit in his face.”

Al-Adnani was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria last year, but experts say this directive has been repeated often by ISIS and is the root of the latest unsophisticated attacks using cars, knives and other everyday objects.

“The fact that people are using everyday items show that these attacks are almost spur-of-the-moment. They don’t require a lot of training, they don’t require a lot of planning. All they need is for someone to rent a U-Haul, like was done the other day, and just drive like a crazy person and hop out with a knife,” Ringel, the FBI veteran, said. “They’re easy to commit and they’re under the radar because there is no prior training or need to obtain precursor chemicals that could give them away or warn enforcement.”

Such attacks also make people feel afraid as they go about their daily lives, said Dr. Karen Greenberg, director of the Center for National Security at Fordham Law School in New York.

“The frequency of these events is gaining speed, and they’re starting to have a pattern as well, which is using not very technological stuff: whether it’s a homemade bomb, or a car, a knife,” Greenberg told ABC News. “People are more fearful when they go about their daily lives.”

ISIS wants anti-Muslim backlash in the wake of these attacks to help recruit more isolated and alienated people to commit acts of terror in its name, The Washington Posts Warrick said.

“One of the reasons they want their followers to strike out around the world is because they really see this as not about killing a couple dozen Westerners in London or Paris, but about awakening the Muslim community. They want this army to materialize,” Warrick said.

But the public and political leaders must be careful to differentiate between Muslims and extremists, author Power said.

“To say that it’s a religion of violence based on three crazy guys who heeded people who are reviled by anybody who knows anything about the classical text or the mainstream traditions is a convenient propaganda tool for people who want to see violence in the faith,” Power said.

That ISIS will capitalize on anti-Muslim sentiment makes the response after these attacks more complex, Warrick said.

“This requires a kind of maturity and leadership and thinking beyond the immediate political impulse, which would be to get tough and crack down,” Warrick said. “The one thing that would be really counterproductive is to vindicate them by making this a war against Muslims, because that is what they want it to be.”

“If we feed into their rhetoric by essentially declaring war on Muslims or declaring Muslims to be the enemy, then we are really helping them,” he added.

Anti-Muslim sentiment can also waste law enforcement’s time investigating leads that are not worth the resources.

Ringel said law enforcement agencies are already challenged by the sheer volume of tips they receive.

“It’s very difficult because you’re weighing freedom of expression and freedom of religion with criminality. When people cross the line of criminality, then law enforcement can act,” Ringel said. “I will say from my previous experience in the FBI, we would get a lot of leads where people would call in and say, ‘My neighbor is dressing in Islamic clothes, my neighbor looks at me funny, my neighbor doesn’t like Jews, my neighbor won’t shake the hands of women.’ Ok, well they’re not breaking the law.”

If someone is a cause for concern, law enforcement can follow up and carry out different levels of investigation, but it’s sometimes difficult to know if or when a person will decide to “go operational,” he added.

Looking ahead, understanding why people join ISIS is also crucial to any efforts to de-radicalize and reintegrate them into society, Power, author of “If the Oceans Were Ink, said.

“You talk to people in this space and they say that we have to get ready for the influx of people coming back, if that ever happens, both from a security standpoint but also looking at if there is a chance that these folks can turn. It’s a political hot potato, certainly, Power added.

But the people who are thinking about these things are looking to see if there is a best practice and an alternative to ‘lock them all up. Power said. “In all but the most hardline quarters, there’s a sense that there have to be new ways of looking at this.”

Read more here:

ISIS counting on anti-Muslim backlash ‘to sharpen the divide,’ experts warn – ABC News

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‘Grave concern’ over Chinese teachers reportedly killed by ISIS in Pakistan – YourErie

Related Content (CNN) – China has expressed “grave concern” over reports that ISIS has killed two Chinese teachers kidnapped in Pakistan. The man and woman, said by Chinese media to be a couple, were kidnapped by armed men on May 24 from the city of Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, on May 24 on their way to teach a Chinese language class, a senior security officer told CNN last month. Amaq, a news agency affiliated with ISIS, said Thursday that Islamic State fighters had killed two Chinese teachers who were being held in the Mastung, Balochistan. The group also released a video, which showed two bodies shot and bleeding on some grassy ground. “China resolutely opposes all forms of kidnapping of civilians and opposes all forms of terrorism and extreme acts of violence,” said Hua Chunying, the spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Friday. Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it was “working to confirm authenticity of the reports of killing of two Chinese nationals, kidnapped in Quetta.” The deaths underscore the risks of China’s growing international reach and influence. The Global Times, a state-run tabloid, said that guarding Chinese nationals overseas had become a new and serious challenge for national security. “As China’s international influence is growing, terrorist organizations target Chinese for ransom or just to create a sensation. Cases of Chinese being kidnapped have increased,” the paper said in an editorial. Chinese nationals have settled in Pakistan in greater numbers since the announcement of a $46 billion investment plan known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015 — part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative. “Given Pakistan’s complex security situation, both sides need to study and formulate a more comprehensive security plan to fully cover Chinese in Pakistan,” the Global Times added. Hua said authorities had been trying to rescue the hostages. Pakistan’s military said Thursday that its security forces conducted an operation from June 1 to 3 in Mastung, where it said it killed 12 terrorists with links to ISIS that had been hiding in caves but didn’t mention the abducted Chinese teachers. Balochistan is home to the Gwador Port Complex, a flagship project of the economic corridor, but has been plagued by violence by different militant groups including the Pakistani Taliban and a separatist movement. Pakistan views CPEC, a combination of infrastructure projects ranging from road networks, a fiber optic cable project, railway lines, a deep-sea port, coal mines and solar farms, as a huge opportunity to develop its economy. Pakistan is home to roughly 20,000 Chinese, according to Mustafa Hyder, chief executive of the Pakistan-China Institute.

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US military in Mideast hindered by Saudis’ rift with Qatar: Tillerson – ABC News

As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries Friday to immediately take steps to de-escalate the diplomatic crisis in the Gulf, which he said is hindering U.S. military actions in the region and the campaign against ISIS, President Donald Trump continued his criticism of Qatar for what he portrayed as that country’s role in funding terrorism. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and two other countries cut diplomatic ties with their neighbor, Qatar, early this week, accusing the small nation of supporting organizations they regard as terrorist, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The nations withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar and cut off air, sea and land travel to the peninsular nation, which is rich in oil but depends heavily on imported food. Tillerson began his remarks at the State Department with a tough message for Qatar to be responsive to the concerns of its neighbors. He said Qatar has historically supported groups that have spanned the spectrum of political expression from activism to violence. But the secretary of state also called on Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt to ease the blockade against Qatar, which he said is causing unintended humanitarian consequences such as forcibly separating families and creating food shortages. President Trump, speaking at the White House later in the day Friday, took a somewhat different tack. Trump bashed Qatar as a “funder of terrorism at a very high level” and called on it to stop funding terrorist organizations. “For Qatar, we want you back among the unity of responsible nations,” Trump said. “We ask Qatar and other nations in the region to do more and do it faster.” A senior administration official downplayed any divergence between Trump and Tillerson’s remarks in the aftermath, characterizing any perceived difference in their stance on Qatar as a “misperception.” The official said that Trump supports easing the blockade for humanitarian reasons and would like to build a productive relationship with the emir of Qatar. Tillersons earlier statement that the “blockade” of Qatar is hurting U.S. economic and military efforts in the region contradicts Pentagon officials insistence earlier in the week that there has been no impact on U.S. operations in Qatar, or the fight against ISIS. Qatar hosts one of the largest U.S. military bases in the Middle East, where about 9,000 U.S. and other service members in the global coalition against ISIS are deployed There has been no impact on our operations either in Qatar or with regards to airspace permission around it and we dont anticipate there will be, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said on Tuesday. Similarly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Monday that he was positive there will be no implications coming out of this dramatic situation. Also on Monday, Tillerson said he did not expect that this will have any significant impact, if any impact at all, on the unified fight against terrorism in the region or globally. In Tillerson’s speech, he said that although the emir has made progress halting financial support for terrorist elements and expelling them from the country, he must do more and he must do it more quickly. He said the U.S. supports the emir of Kuwait in his efforts to resolve the conflict and closed by calling upon the Gulf Cooperation Council — a regional political alliance between Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — to reaffirm the spirit of the summit attended by Trump three weeks ago, during which all of the countries committed to fight against terrorism. Tillerson said that after speaking with Gulf leaders it is clear that the elements of a solution are available and that the U.S. expects that these countries will immediately take steps to de-escalate the situation and put forth a good faith effort to resolve their grievances they have with each other. Qatar has disputed the claim that it funds terrorists, with its Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying in English on its website that they are “unfounded allegations” and that the actions taken against it by its neighboring nations are “not justified.” ABC News’ Jordyn Phelps and Adam Kelsey contributed to this report.

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Twin Attacks Hit Iran’s Parliament And Khomeini Mausoleum …

Police officers run to take position around Iran’s parliament building in Tehran after an assault by several attackers. Four attackers reportedly reached the building’s interior, and an explosion was heard, although it was unclear whether it was a suicide bomb or a grenade. Ali Khara/AP hide caption Police officers run to take position around Iran’s parliament building in Tehran after an assault by several attackers. Four attackers reportedly reached the building’s interior, and an explosion was heard, although it was unclear whether it was a suicide bomb or a grenade. Two teams of attackers used gunfire and explosives to strike Iran’s parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran on Wednesday, according to state media. The twin attacks killed at least 12 people and wounded 42 others. “Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaqari said that the terrorists had entered the parliament in [women’s] dress,” Iran’s state news agency reports. It adds that a female assailant detonated herself outside the mausoleum. The Iranian Intelligence Ministry says it foiled a third attack and is asking people to avoid public transportation, state broadcaster IRIB reports. The Islamic State, via its Amaq News Agency, claimed responsibility for the attacks, NPR’s Alison Meuse reports. In addition to the dual attacks claimed by ISIS on the parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Iranian intelligence says it foiled a third attack. Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images hide caption In addition to the dual attacks claimed by ISIS on the parliament building and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini Iranian intelligence says it foiled a third attack. Alison translated the extremist group’s message to: “Fighters from the Islamic State have attacked the Khomeini shrine and the parliament building in central Tehran.” The message quotes an ISIS “security source,” which Alison says is typical for such claims. In an unusual move, the group also released a short video that it said was taken by one of the attackers inside parliament. In it, a gunman is seen leaving an office area where a man lies wounded and not moving on the floor. A security siren and gunfire are heard as men yell in Arabic. At the parliament building, four attackers reached the interior, where they shot at security guards, according to IRIB. It says one of the attackers exploded a suicide vest inside the building, though other local news agencies said the explosion may have been caused by grenades thrown by the attackers. The second attack at the shrine of Khomeini, the nation’s first supreme leader came within an hour of the assault on the legislature. Assailants reportedly killed a security guard and wounded 12 other people, and a suicide bomber also detonated an explosive vest. Four attackers were said to have targeted the shrine. Despite the violence at Iran’s parliament Wednesday morning, lawmakers returned to business by the afternoon. Officials say the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps helped security forces control the situation. “As you know, some coward terrorists infiltrated a building in Majlis [Parliament], but they were seriously confronted,” Speaker Ali Larijani said. “This is a minor issue but reveals that the terrorists pursue troublemaking.” The U.S. State Department offered condolences to victims and their families, saying in a statement, “The depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world.” Iran is deeply involved in the fight against ISIS, both in Iraq and Syria, and along with Russia is a major backer of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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Syrian Accused of Working for ISIS News Agency Is Arrested in Germany – New York Times

Syrian Accused of Working for ISIS News Agency Is Arrested in Germany New York Times Analysts had long suspected that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, had media operatives on different continents and across time zones, both because of the rapid response of its statements and because its claims are frequently translated … and more »

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China ‘Gravely Concerned’ After ISIS Reports Murder of Two Hostages in Pakistan – Newsweek

China said on Friday it was “gravely concerned” atIslamicStateclaims that the group killed two Chinese teachers it kidnapped in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province last month, where Beijing is investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects. China said it was working to verify the claim. Armed men pretending to be policemen kidnapped the two language teachers in Quetta, the capital of the southwestern province, on May 24. Subscribe to Newsweek from $1 per week The kidnapping was a rare security incident involving Chinese nationals in Pakistan, where Beijing has pledged $57 billion under its massive “Belt and Road” initiative to build rail, road and power infrastructure. China says Pakistan is a major part of its plans to build a modern day “Silk Road” network of land and maritime routes to connect Asia with Africa and Europe. Key parts of the infrastructure will be in Baluchistan, including the new port of Gwadar, which will be linked to western China under current plans. The killing of the teachers was claimed byIslamicState’s Amaq news agency on Thursday. “IslamicStatefighters killed two Chinese people they had been holding in Baluchistan province, southwest Pakistan,” Amaq said. A Baluchistan government spokesman said officials were in the process of confirming whether the report was correct. China’s Foreign Ministry expressed grave concern. “We have been trying to rescue the two kidnapped hostages over the past days. The Chinese side is working to learn about and verify relevant information through various channels, including working with Pakistani authorities,” the ministry said in a shortstatement. “The Chinese side is firmly opposed to the acts of kidnapping civilians in any form, as well as terrorism and extreme violence in any form,” it said. There was no immediate comment from Pakistan’s interior ministry or its foreign office. Chinesestate-run newspaper the Global Times, published by the official People’s Daily, said in an editorial on Friday China would never bow in the face of terror, but also said Chinese people should also exercise greater caution abroad, especially in more remote areas. “They also need to raise their ability to protect themselves, and as much as possible put distance between themselves and real danger,” it said. China has not formally identified the two teachers. Chinese media has cited foreign media reports as identifying the two as a man and a woman who worked for a private language school. The claim of the killings sparked anger on Chinese social media, with some strongly anti-Muslim comments. IslamicState, which controls some territory in neighbouring Afghanistan, has struggled to establish a presence in Pakistan. However, it has claimed several major attacks, including one on the deputy chairman of the Senate last month in Baluchistan, in which 25 people were killed. On Thursday, Pakistan’s military published details of a three-day raid on a militant hideout in a cave not far from Quetta, saying it had killed 12 “hardcore terrorists” from a banned local Islamist group and preventedIslamicStatefrom gaining a “foothold” in Baluchistan. China’s ambassador to Pakistan and other officials have often urged Islamabad to improve security, especially in Baluchistan. The numbers of Pakistanis studying Mandarin has skyrocketed since 2014, when President Xi Jinping signed off on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Consequently, any attack on Chinese interests in Pakistan would come as an embarrassment to Islamabad, which greatly prizes its relationship with Beijing. The two refer to each other as “all weather friends”. Security in Baluchistan has improved in recent years, but separatists, who view infrastructure projects as a ruse to steal natural resources, killed 10 Pakistani workers building a road near the new port of Gwadar this month, a key part of the economic corridor. China has also expressed concern about militants in Pakistan linking up with what China views as separatists in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, where hundreds have been killed in violence in recent years.

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Virginia man who joined ISIS to check things out will be jailed – VICE News

If youre going to join ISIS, you might want to have a better reason than just to check things out. A Virginia man who said that was why he briefly joined the extremistgroup was convicted on terrorism charges Wednesday and faces a minimum of five years behind bars. Mohamad Khweis, a 27-year-old former Metro Access bus driver in Fairfax County, quit his job, sold his car and traveled to Iraq and Syria in December 2015 entirely undetected by U.S. intelligence agencies. He wanted to find out how they could justify some of this stuff, Khweis defense attorney John Zwerling argued in court, according to the Washington Post. Its not a crime to explore, to try to see some of this information for yourself. Khweis was smuggled across the Turkish border after which he stayed in an ISIS safe house in Raqqa, Syria, and pledged to be a suicide bomber during the ISIS intake process, according to a statement released by the Justice Department. But after two and a half months oftraining in different safe houses, Khweis got cold feet and surrendered to Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. Hello, can you please help me, Khweis claimed he said, according to the Post. Im an American. … I want to go back home. A Virginia federal districtcourtwithin hours convicted Khweis of providing and conspiring to provide material support to ISIS, for which he could be given a maximum penalty of life in prison. No one joins an organization like the Islamic State, that is renowned for its terror, its lethality, its brutality, just to check it out, said Raj Parekh, a DOJtrial attorney in his closing arguments, according to the Post. This is not a tourist destination; this is not an amusement park … He knew exactly what he was getting himself into. Like an overwhelming majority of American ISIS recruits, Khweis admitted to watching extremist ISIS videos online, according to the complaint filed by the Justice Department. In 2015, a congressional report estimated that over 250 Americans had joined or tried to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Between March 2014 and August 2016, there were at least 112 cases of individuals who perpetrated ISIS-related offenses indicted by the U.S. Justice Department, according to a separate study by the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST). U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to totally obliterate ISIS and to keep ISIS fighters the hell out of our country.

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IRAN ATTACK: ISIS claims responsibility for pair of assaults …

ISIS claimed responsibility for a pair of Wednesday attacks in Tehran in which suicide bombers and teams of gunmen stormed Iran’s parliament and the nearby shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, killing at least 12 and injuring dozens of others. This is the first attack orchestrated by ISIS in the Islamic Republic, SITE Intel Group reported. It wasn’t initially clear if the death count, reported by state broadcaster IRIB, included the attackers. In a rare and stunning move, ISIS released video from inside the parliament building while the attack was under way. The video, circulated online, shows a gunman and a bloody, lifeless body of a man lying on the ground next to a desk. A voice on the video praises God and says in Arabic: “Do you think we will leave? We will remain, God willing.” Another voice repeats the same words. The two appeared to be parroting a slogan used by IS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who was killed in Syria last year. The parliament assault ended Wednesday morning with all four attackers there being killed. “Iranian nation moves on, today the fumbling with firecrackers in #Tehran, won’t affect the will of our nation,” Ayatollah Kahmenei wrote in a tweet. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said “the depravity of terrorism has no place in a peaceful, civilized world.” One of the terrorists blew himself up inside the parliament building, where a session had been in progress, according to a statement carried by Iran state TV. It quoted lawmaker Elias Hazrati as saying the attackers were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles. An Associated Press reporter saw several police snipers on the rooftops of buildings around parliament. Shops in the area were shuttered, and gunfire could be heard. Witnesses said the attackers were shooting from the fourth floor of the parliament building down at people in the streets below. “I was passing by one of the streets. I thought that children were playing with fireworks, but I realized people are hiding and lying down on the streets,” Ebrahim Ghanimi, who was around the parliament building when the assailants stormed in, told The Associated Press. “With the help of a taxi driver, I reached a nearby alley.” Police helicopters circled over the parliament building and all mobile phone lines from inside were disconnected. The semi-official ISNA news agency said all entrance and exit gates at parliament were closed and that lawmakers and reporters were ordered to remain in place inside the chamber. State TV reported four attackers were involved in the parliament attack. Iran’s official state broadcaster said a security guard was killed and four people wounded in the shrine attack. It said one of the attackers at the shrine was killed by security guards and that a woman was arrested. It described the shrine attackers as “terrorists” and said one carried out a suicide bombing, without providing further details. In addition to being lethal, the attack on the shrine of Khomeini is symbolically stunning. As Iran’s first Supreme Leader, Khomeini is a towering figure in the country and was its revolutionary leader in the 1979 ouster of the shah. The Associated Press contributed to this report

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How the ISIS attack on Iran may escalate regional conflict – PBS NewsHour

JUDY WOODRUFF: We return to the attacks in Iran, the implications and consequences, and the wider picture in a greatly unsettled region. In a moment, William Brangham will speak with experts on those questions. But, to begin, chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports on todays terror in Tehran that left 13 dead and more than 40 wounded. MARGARET WARNER: It was mid-morning when the first shots echoed from the Iranian Parliament building. Gunmen, some reportedly dressed as women, stormed in with rifles and suicide vests. At least one blew himself up outside the Parliament chamber. Another ran back outside and began firing in the streets. MOHAMMAD SHAHI, Shop Owner (through interpreter): When we were close to the Parliament in a taxi, there were more gunfire sounds. People were panicked and started running away and seeking shelter. MARGARET WARNER: The resulting siege with police went on for hours. Near the same time, the shrine of Irans revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, was hit. Authorities say that, in the end, six attackers were killed and five arrested. The Islamic State group immediately claimed responsibility, the first time the Sunni extremist group has struck successfully inside Shiite Iran. The militants put out video of the assault while it was still under way. One attacker says: Do you think we will go away? No. We will remain, God willing. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republics supreme leader, was defiant. AYATOLLAH ALI KHAMENEI, Supreme Leader of Iran (through translator): The firecracker play that took place today will have no effect on the peoples will. However, these incidents proved that if the Islamic republic had not resisted at the epicenter of these seditions in Iraq and Syria, we would be dealing with many troubles caused by them inside the country now. MARGARET WARNER: But Charlie Winter of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College, London, says that, for ISIS, attacking Iran is like taking the crown jewel. CHARLIE WINTER, International Center for the Study of Radicalization: Striking Iran like this is akin to striking the United States or Israel. I mean, this is really a huge symbolic victory for the Islamic State. In terms of its propaganda, I think the group will be talking about this moment for years to come. MARGARET WARNER: This attack comes as ISIS is under pressure from Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq, as well as from the U.S.-backed coalition. The ISIS-controlled Iraqi city of Mosul has all but fallen to government forces, aided by the Shiite militias. And, in Syria, U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters have opened a full-on assault to reclaim the Islamic States capital, Raqqa. It also occurs amidst a spike in the tense rivalry between Iran and the Sunni Arab states led by Saudi Arabia. Last month, President Trump rallied Arab nations to oppose terror, and Iran especially. And, on Monday, the Saudis and others cut ties to Qatar, citing, in part, its ties to Iran. Moreover, just hours before todays attack, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir Iran quote must be punished for its interference in the region. After the attacks, Irans Revolutionary Guard accused the Saudis, saying: The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they, the Saudis, were involved. Charlie Winter says this turn of events further complicates regional politics and the fight against ISIS. CHARLIE WINTER: Regional politics are kind of balancing on a knife edge at the moment. The more actors there are involved in this war, the more confusing itll get, the more bogged down states around the world will get. MARGARET WARNER: In a statement this afternoon, the White House voiced sympathy for the victims, but said states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote. For the PBS NewsHour, Im Margaret Warner. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: So what does this first ever ISIS attack inside actually Iran mean, and how might Tehran respond? To help us with that, Im joined by two people with deep knowledge of Iran and its role in the region. Randa Slim is director of the Track II Dialogues Initiative at the Middle East Institute. And Karim Sadjadpour is a senior fellow in the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Welcome to you both. Randa Slim, I would like to start with you. I wonder if you could just help us give us your sense, your first reaction to this attack and, in particular, why you believe, perhaps, these two targets were chosen in Tehran. RANDA SLIM, Middle East Institute: Well, they are important symbols for Iranian Islamic Republic. And they especially the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, the attack outside it is something that is seen by the ISIS community, or the community that is pro-ISIS, as being an important symbol to attack because it symbolizes the heart and the founder of the Islamic Republic. And so it is a first attack claimed by ISIS in Iran. They have been trying to do this attack for some time. And I think the fact that they have been able to succeed today will not diminish Iranian regime resolve to fight ISIS in Iraq, for example, although I have to say, in Syria, they are not devoting much resources to fighting ISIS, letting the Americans lead that fight, and instead fighting mostly devoting their resources to fight the Syrian opposition, the non-jihadi Syrian opposition. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Karim, what was you first reaction when you heard about this? KARIM SADJADPOUR, Carnegie Endowment For International Peace: Well, Iran has been heavily invested in regional conflicts over the last six years. As Randa mentioned, in Syria, they have poured billions of dollars. They have a thousand casualties, likewise in Iraq. They have trained Shia militias in Yemen. But they have been largely immune to the casualties in the Middle East. The Iranian people havent suffered the same way as peoples in the region have suffered. So this was a major breach in Tehran. But I still think the fact that Iran is a country which is about 90 percent Shiite Muslim, the city of Tehran is probably over 95 percent Shia Muslim, I dont think that ISIS is going to continue to be able to make these kinds of attacks in Iran, because they dont have the reservoir of support in Iran that they may have elsewhere in the Arab world. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: And, Randa, as we heard in Margaret Warners package at the beginning, ISIS hitting Iran in particular was like them stealing the crown jewels. For those of us who dont understand, why is that such an attractive target to them? RANDA SLIM: ISIS represents a the Salafi jihadi wing of radical radical wing of Sunni Islam. And this is a form of Sunni Islam that looks at Shias, which is the main religion of Iran, as being apostates. And they look at their vision of Islam, and their mission of Islam is to cleanse Islam of these apostates, meaning the Shia. But, also, ISIS is fighting for its survival. This is ISIS basically staking a claim in the leadership of this Sunni radical jihadi form of Sunni Islam, even after they are defeated in Mosul and after they are defeated in Raqqa. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Karim, we saw that, even though ISIS did claim responsibility for this, Iran immediately blamed Saudi Arabia for this attack. What do you make of that accusation? KARIM SADJADPOUR: Well, Iran and Saudi Arabia have long been accusing one another of fueling ISIS. For the Iranians, ISIS is a byproduct of Saudi Wahhabist ideology and Saudi financing. To the Saudis, ISIS is a byproduct of Iranian support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Shia militias in Iraq which are killing Sunnis en masse. The reality is that ISIS poses a grave threat to Iran, but an even graver threat to Saudi Arabia. So, in theory, these two countries actually have a mutual adversary in ISIS. But what Iran has been doing which I think is quite dangerous is conflating Saudi Arabia and ISIS. And they put their finger on something which has a powerful resonance amongst Iranians. And whether youre a Shiite cleric living in (INAUDIBLE) or a secular Iranian opponent of the regime living in Los Angeles, there is this kind of Persian nationalism against Saudi Arabia. Theyre trying to harness that. But whats dangerous about that is not that they blamed Saudi Arabia for this attack and they vowed retaliation. This really has a danger of escalating this huge regional war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which has really eclipsed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its destabilization on the Middle East. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Randa, as you heard Karim mention here, very strong tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. We also have a proxy war going on between the two nations in Yemen. Do you think that this attack today I guess Im asking, are we getting potentially closer to an all-out conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia? RANDA SLIM: Look, this attack definitely contributes to further escalation in an already volatile region and in an already tense relationship between the two regional powers. And as we have seen in the past, when Iran and Saudi Arabia fight or escalate their fight, it doesnt stay with Saudi Arabia and Iran. It reverberates throughout the region, and because one way by which they wage this competition between them is through proxy fights in the rest of the region, be it in Yemen, be it in Syria, be it in Iraq, or even be it in Lebanon. And so we are likely to see as tensions and as things escalate between the two countries, we are likely to see that being played out again in Yemen and being played out in Syria and being played out in Iraq. Whats problematic here is that, instead of the two regional countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia, focusing their resources and working together on fighting a common economy to both of them, which is ISIS, we are seeing this now escalation in the relations between them, leading both to divert their resources and their attention from the real joint enemy, which is ISIS, and focusing it on waging this fight and this competition between them in different proxy sites around the region. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Karim, I wonder what you believe the Trump administrations response to all this is going to be. KARIM SADJADPOUR: The Trump administration has gone back to kind of the status quo ante U.S. policy, which is cooperation with Saudi Arabia and containment of Iran. I oftentimes think that President Trump views this as just simply siding with one team against another, and thats a dangerous recipe in the Middle East. WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Karim Sadjadpour, Randa Slim, thank you both very much. KARIM SADJADPOUR: Thank you, William.

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ISIS counting on anti-Muslim backlash ‘to sharpen the divide,’ experts warn – ABC News

As ISIS claims responsibility for one attack after another, experts warn that understanding the terrorist groups geopolitical, ideological and religious motivations are crucial to stopping it. The U.S.-backed military offensive to retake ISIS-held areas of Iraq and Syria, coupled with propaganda during the holy month of Ramadan, could be contributing to the recent increase in attacks in Europe. Experts also say an ongoing directive from the group’s leaders for believers to fight with whatever is available and anti-Muslim backlash in Western societies after such attacks may also play a key role. “I think you’ve seen a slight uptick right now because ISIS has put out a message to its followers saying, ‘Don’t come to Syria, don’t come to Iraq, stay at home and create a problem,'” Jeffrey Ringel, a director at the Soufan Group and 21-year veteran of the FBI, told ABC News. “That message came out about a year ago when it became more difficult for people to go there. ISIS was losing its land mass, they were losing their caliphate, so the leader of ISIS basically encouraged followers to stay home and attack Westerners in their own backyards,” Ringel added. There’s no doubting ISIS’s shrinking land mass. By early Tuesday morning, fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces had retaken nearly 4 square miles outside of the city of Raqqa as part of their latest offensive against ISIS. And Iraqi forces had successfully fought to retake about 190 square miles from ISIS near Mosul, according to a May 5 U.S. Department of Defense news release. ISIS propaganda during the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims around the world devote time to fasting, studying the Quran and cleansing their spirit, is also a factor, according to Joby Warrick, author of “Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS” and the national security reporter for the Washington Post. The group has been encouraging its followers to commit violent acts during Ramadan since at least 2015, and violence has spiked during the holiday in the past. “When you follow their propaganda online, it’s almost like a PR campaign that has sort of promotional cycles,” Warrick said. “They have now, for a couple of years, emphasized Ramadan as a holy time, so when people are fasting and thinking holy thoughts, they should also carry out attacks against convenient targets.” “Essentially, it’s like, ‘It’s the holiday season, it’s time to consecrate yourself to Allah by killing someone.’ That’s kind of what we are seeing right now,” Warrick added of the monthlong holiday that began May 26. But violence is not a fundamental part of Islam, said Carla Power, author of “If the Oceans Were Ink” about a yearlong examination of the Quran in which she engaged with Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi, an influential scholar and imam. “These groups are a tiny, tiny minority of really fringe elements who are rejected overwhelmingly by mainstream imams and Muslims,” Power told ABC News. “I do draw the line at saying they’re not connected to Islam at all because, clearly, they’re wrapping themselves in the flag and the language of Islam. But they’re trying to give legitimacy to what is effectively criminal behavior and a highly political land grab.” Fundamental misunderstanding of and the desire to equate the beliefs of all Muslims with those of ISIS plays directly into the terrorist group’s strategy, Warrick said. “They want to raise this Muslim army, and they commit terrorism attacks abroad in order to sharpen the divide and make it harder for Muslims in their adopted homes,” he said. “Not because young Muslims are necessarily going to be inspired by the terrorist acts but because they anticipate that there will be a backlash against Muslims; that it will be so painful to be a Muslim in a place like London because of regulation or discrimination or people looking at you like you’re dangerous because you’re Muslim. “All of that drives a wedge between Muslims and makes them uncomfortable in the places that they live, and thus more apt to join [ISIS’s] side,” Warrick added. ISIS rose out of the group that once called itself al-Qaeda in Iraq, Warrick said. It was previously run by the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whom the U.S. Air Force killed in a bombing raid in Iraq in 2006. “This figure, al-Zarqawi was really a loser and a nobody who history would never have heard of except for the fact that the U.S. decided to invade Iraq in 2003, Warrick said. The invasion give him this platform that he always wanted, and dismantling the Iraqi government and armed forces gave him an army of unhappy former colonels and majors who wanted to fight the Americans and now had a leader to command them. That was kind of the original sin that allowed this group to flower: everything from what it professes to its use of the internet to its brutal displays of violence.” Warrick said al-Zarqawi was initially rejected by al-Qaeda because he was too extreme. “Bin Laden tried to personally rein them in and get them to stop doing things like beheading people on the internet, and they insisted on going their own way,” Warrick said. “This rift that started between al-Zarqawi and bin Laden is still the rift that exists between al-Qaeda and ISIS.” After al-Zarqawi’s 2006 death, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over and the group was renamed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The group was able to take advantage of the chaos resulting from Syria’s civil war and the Arab Spring to gain a foothold. ISIS believes that it is responsible for creating a caliphate, or state governed by an Islamic ruler and religious successor to the Prophet Mohammed, on earth, according to the group’s leader, al-Baghdadi. The group has forcibly taken over land in Syria and Iraq to achieve that aim. ISIS’s treatment of religious minorities, including Yazidis and Christians, has been especially brutal, according to Matthew Barber, a Ph.D. student studying Islamic thought and history at the University of Chicago who has worked extensively with minorities in Iraq. “IS jihadists reject the legitimacy of all worldviews that differ from their own. This orientation is inimical to any form of religious diversity or pluralism,” Barber told ABC News via email. “The goal of this movement to cleanse society of any perspective contradicting their supremacist doctrine — as well as their penchant for pillaging the wealth of their neighbors — has made life impossible for religious minorities in areas under their control.” ISIS fighters have engaged in beheadings, systematic rape and mass killings. In their genocide against the Yazidis, for instance, ISIS fighters went about “slaughtering all adult males who refused to be force-converted to Islam, and sexually enslaving over 3,000 women and girls,” Barber said. Unlike other terrorist groups, ISIS is fundamentally apocalyptic, Warrick said. “This is not like al-Qaeda. You can almost think of them as part of a doomsday cult because they really do see the world heading to an end and they are part of it,” Warrick said. “They see themselves as marching on the side of righteousness toward the cataclysm, which is this big fight between the rest and Islam.” ISIS fighters believe they have an important role to play in the end of the world, which will begin when Western forces and Muslims fight in the town of Dabiq, Syria. “Way before they became known as the Islamic State, they were fixated on this idea that there was going to be an Armageddon-like battle. Their successes encouraged them to believe that this was all happening, that the prophecy was going to be fulfilled,” Warrick said. “That complicates things for us because these are fanatics; they can’t be negotiated with.” Anti-ISIS forces reclaimed the Syrian town of Dabiq in October of last year. Offensives to retake the ISIS strongholds of Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, mean that the group’s territory is shrinking. That might also explain why it is increasingly eager to claim responsibility for attacks abroad: they help the group maintain influence even as it loses land, the Soufan Groups Ringel said. “I think ISIS likes to say, ‘Look how powerful we are.’ ISIS always claims responsibility for attacks that happen anywhere in the world, but then when you go back to look at it, there is no association with ISIS. So it’s ISIS trying to claim credit for something they didn’t do,” Ringel said. In September of 2014, an ISIS spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, released a statement urging his followers to use whatever was at their disposal to attack other people wherever they are. “If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him,” al-Adnani said. “If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or business. Or destroy his crops. If you are unable to do so, then spit in his face.” Al-Adnani was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Syria last year, but experts say this directive has been repeated often by ISIS and is the root of the latest unsophisticated attacks using cars, knives and other everyday objects. “The fact that people are using everyday items show that these attacks are almost spur-of-the-moment. They don’t require a lot of training, they don’t require a lot of planning. All they need is for someone to rent a U-Haul, like was done the other day, and just drive like a crazy person and hop out with a knife,” Ringel, the FBI veteran, said. “They’re easy to commit and they’re under the radar because there is no prior training or need to obtain precursor chemicals that could give them away or warn enforcement.” Such attacks also make people feel afraid as they go about their daily lives, said Dr. Karen Greenberg, director of the Center for National Security at Fordham Law School in New York. “The frequency of these events is gaining speed, and they’re starting to have a pattern as well, which is using not very technological stuff: whether it’s a homemade bomb, or a car, a knife,” Greenberg told ABC News. “People are more fearful when they go about their daily lives.” ISIS wants anti-Muslim backlash in the wake of these attacks to help recruit more isolated and alienated people to commit acts of terror in its name, The Washington Posts Warrick said. “One of the reasons they want their followers to strike out around the world is because they really see this as not about killing a couple dozen Westerners in London or Paris, but about awakening the Muslim community. They want this army to materialize,” Warrick said. But the public and political leaders must be careful to differentiate between Muslims and extremists, author Power said. “To say that it’s a religion of violence based on three crazy guys who heeded people who are reviled by anybody who knows anything about the classical text or the mainstream traditions is a convenient propaganda tool for people who want to see violence in the faith,” Power said. That ISIS will capitalize on anti-Muslim sentiment makes the response after these attacks more complex, Warrick said. “This requires a kind of maturity and leadership and thinking beyond the immediate political impulse, which would be to get tough and crack down,” Warrick said. “The one thing that would be really counterproductive is to vindicate them by making this a war against Muslims, because that is what they want it to be.” “If we feed into their rhetoric by essentially declaring war on Muslims or declaring Muslims to be the enemy, then we are really helping them,” he added. Anti-Muslim sentiment can also waste law enforcement’s time investigating leads that are not worth the resources. Ringel said law enforcement agencies are already challenged by the sheer volume of tips they receive. “It’s very difficult because you’re weighing freedom of expression and freedom of religion with criminality. When people cross the line of criminality, then law enforcement can act,” Ringel said. “I will say from my previous experience in the FBI, we would get a lot of leads where people would call in and say, ‘My neighbor is dressing in Islamic clothes, my neighbor looks at me funny, my neighbor doesn’t like Jews, my neighbor won’t shake the hands of women.’ Ok, well they’re not breaking the law.” If someone is a cause for concern, law enforcement can follow up and carry out different levels of investigation, but it’s sometimes difficult to know if or when a person will decide to “go operational,” he added. Looking ahead, understanding why people join ISIS is also crucial to any efforts to de-radicalize and reintegrate them into society, Power, author of “If the Oceans Were Ink, said. “You talk to people in this space and they say that we have to get ready for the influx of people coming back, if that ever happens, both from a security standpoint but also looking at if there is a chance that these folks can turn. It’s a political hot potato, certainly, Power added. But the people who are thinking about these things are looking to see if there is a best practice and an alternative to ‘lock them all up. Power said. “In all but the most hardline quarters, there’s a sense that there have to be new ways of looking at this.”

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