Archive for the ‘ISIS’ Category

What It’s Like to Stand Alongside the Kurdish Women Fighting ISIS – VICE

Writer’s note: In March last year, Kimberley Taylor became the first (and only) British woman to travel to Syria to take up arms against ISIS. Within days of her arrival, the 28-year-old former maths student from Blackburn joined the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) the all-female affiliate army of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) of Syrian Kurdistanand has been fighting alongside them ever since. For the past three months, Kimberley known to friends as Kimmie, but to comrades as Zilan Dilmarhas been part of the offensive to liberate Raqqa, ISIS’ de-facto capital. At the end of March, I spoke to Kimberley, over a series of Skype conversations, to find out what life is like for a woman on the frontline against ISIS. Two days later, she deployed to Raqqa to fight in what will likely be ISIS’s bitter last stand. These are her words, but they have been edited and condensed for clarity. Read part one and part two.

Our unit’s rotation on the moving front finished yesterday, so they’ve given us a few days off. So I hitched a lift with the logistics van to Qamishlo [a city in northeastern Syria] to meet some old friends and do some shopping. I need T-shirts and socks. There’s something weird going on with Syrian socksthey always make my feet smell, no matter how much I wash them. Sorxwin won’t stop taking the piss out of my stinky feet.

I got the socks and went for lunch with the three other Western women in the YPJtwo Swedes and a Canadian. I had two hamburgers and a beer. I can’t tell you what a treat that was after a month of chicken spam and Dairylea. And it was only the third beer I’ve drunk in a year. Kurdish girls aren’t allowed to drink for religious reasons, and you can’t drink in front of them. It tasted like heaven. I think I was a little tipsy.

I miss my family terribly, especially at night.

Qamishlo is the capital of Rojava [the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Syria]. The main thing you notice is a picture of Abdullah calan, the founder of the PKK and leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, on almost every wall. Known here as “Apo” (Kurdish for “uncle”), he’s been in solitary confinement in a Turkish island prison for 18 years, where he devised the social and political philosophy driving the Rojava revolution.

That’s the reason I’m here. We want to destroy ISIS, of course. But something else is happening here, not just war: an anti-capitalist, secular, environmentally-friendly movement that puts women’s liberation at the centre of the struggle.They’ve torn up and redrawn all aspects of society. State education is compulsory for girls as well as boys, from the age of seven to 15, regardless of class or ethnic background. They’ve even built a university that’s open to all. There’s a co-operative system of government where a man and woman share power at every level.

In the YPG and the YPJ, officers are elected by troops, and men and women fight side by side. Of course, they have had to retain some of the traditional values of Islamic culture: men of the YPG and women of the YPJ live and fight together but eat and sleep separately; men can’t bare their upper arms in front of women; and women can’t show leg or cleavage.

Read the full story on Broadly.

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What It’s Like to Stand Alongside the Kurdish Women Fighting ISIS – VICE

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ISIS to evacuate its positions in southern Damascus: reports – AMN Al-Masdar News (registration)

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:20 P.M.) ISIS militants are preparing to leave the districts under their control in the southern suburbs of Damascus as per an evacuation deal with the Syrian government.

According to pro-rebel activists, news spread in al-Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk Refugee camp that within a week, ISIS fighters are leaving the area for the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where the Islamic State control large swathes of land.

The same activists reported that those militants have already began to sell their belongings for a cheaper price as locals willing to leave the area were asked to enroll their names

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Yesterday, three ISIS jihadists were killed, one captured as the Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam raided the groups outposts in the northern parts of Yarmouk Camp.

ALSO READ Islamic State insurgents ambushed in southern Damascus by rival jihadist group

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ISIS to evacuate its positions in southern Damascus: reports – AMN Al-Masdar News (registration)

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ISIS’s real target: Saudi Arabia – Fox News

As custodian of Islams holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, and as leader of the 41-nation Islamic coalition established to combat terror, Saudi Arabia is on the front line of the global fight against radical jihadi terrorism. It is also the ultimate target of terrorist organizations that dream of controlling the center of the Islamic world and the nations vast oil wealth. President Trump, in making Riyadh his first overseas stop, is demonstrating this weekend that the U.S.-Saudi strategic relationship is a vital one, and that the kingdom is an essential partner in countering and crushing violent jihadi extremism.

And yet, some critics in the West continue to ridicule any Saudi role in fighting terrorism. They accuse the kingdom of promoting Wahhabism, the conservative Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, arguing that its teachings are a precursor to terrorism. This, despite the fact that the kingdom is itself in the crosshairs of ISIS, al-Qaeda and a revolutionary and belligerent Iran and has seen multiple terror attacks since 1995.

In truth, the Saudi government understands that it has a problem, and it is working to temper the intolerance and rigid thinking of its clerics, a process that will be durable only if done gradually. Part of reforming its reactionary, conservative religious establishment involves utilizing it as a force that, while still not liberal by Western standards, can leverage its considerable stature, prestige and influence in the Muslim world to outlaw all forms of terrorism and ostracize those who promote them.

Saudi Arabias progress in the fight against extremism will be also be marked by Mr. Trump when he attends the opening of a center in Riyadh intended to fight radicalism.

By establishing and operating this center, our Muslim friends, including Saudi Arabia, are taking a firm stand against extremism and those who adopt a perverted interpretation of religion to advance their criminal and political agendas, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told journalists earlier this week.

The kingdom is well-versed and battle-tested in this fight. The Saudi government has built a world-class anti-terrorism capability that uses intelligence, community outreach, rehabilitation and, when necessary, brute force to fight terrorism, perhaps more effectively than any other country facing such militancy in its homeland.

Saudi Arabias commitment to the fight against terrorism may be hard to fathom for many Americans. After all, in the confusion following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a narrative developed that the terrorists attacked America because they wanted to change the American way of life.

In fact, Al Qaeda a strain of which became ISIS has never held illusions about its capacity to spread its ideology in the United States. Instead, the 9/11 attacks were highly strategic, designed with one goal: to sever the strong SaudiU.S. alliance. There is a reason Al Qaeda deliberately chose 15 Saudis among the hijackers. It was not because of Wahhabism or because of a secret Saudi hatred of the Western way of life. It was because Al Qaedas goal has been, and remains, the provocation of a U.S.-Saudi divorce.

Al Qaeda then, and ISIS today, hope to use terror to push the U.S. into withdrawing from the Gulf region, because they perceive the American presence as essential to preserving the existing political order in the Arabian Peninsula. Iran shares this strategy with ISIS, which is why it funds and arms destabilizing terror groups in the region, from Hezbollah in Syria to the Houthis in Yemen. Without an American presence in the region, jihadi leaders believe they could overthrow the Gulf monarchies.

Meanwhile, campaigns of terror have only brought the U.S. and Saudi Arabia closer together, deepening a relationship that has endured for three-quarters of a century. Trumps decision to visit Riyadh first is evidence of that.

This bilateral bond and strengthening alliance against terrorism between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will ensure that neither Mecca nor Main Street, USA, will fall to the perverted and murderous ideology of radical jihadis. The Trump administration is signaling its strong understanding of the critical value Saudi Arabia brings to the table in its partnership against terror. Now thats an idea worth spreading in the U.S.

Ali Shihabi is the executive director of the Arabia Foundation (www.ArabiaFoundation.org), a Washington, DC-based think tank focused on the geopolitics of the Arabian Peninsula.

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ISIS’s real target: Saudi Arabia – Fox News

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Watch This Iraqi Soldier Stop An ISIS Car Bomb With A Bulldozer – The Drive

After months of intense urban combat, it appears that the Battle of Mosul is finally crawling to a close, with Iraqi forces managing to liberate all but three square miles of the city from ISIS. Yet within the enemy’s final entrenchment lies Mosul’s Old City, a dense neighborhood of narrow, twisting alleys and tightly-packed houses. The fighting will be even tougher, the risk of an ambush even greater, but it appears the Iraqi military has an ace up its sleevethe world’s bravest bulldozer driver.

Iraqi forces have relied on a combination of armored vehicles (including bulldozers) to help free most of Mosul, but it’s difficult to use big trucks and heavy machinery in the Old City. They literally don’t fit. Making matters even more difficult, Mosul’s Old City holds a special significance for ISIS, as it’s where leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first declared the establishment of a “caliphate” back in 2014. They’re not going to give it up without a serious fight.

Taken from inside the bulldozer’s cab, the clip shows the vantage point of Sgt. Mohammed Ali as he works to make a path for his unit through the debris-filled streets outside the Old City. He turns the machine around just in time to see a dusty, home-brew armored car speeding straight towards him and his men, and without hesitating catches it with the blade and shoves it into a wall. Seconds later, the car explodes in a massive fireball.

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Watch This Iraqi Soldier Stop An ISIS Car Bomb With A Bulldozer – The Drive

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SAS sniper ‘killed ISIS terrorist from almost 1.5 MILES AWAY’ using the world’s most powerful rifle with bullet … – The Sun

Impressive shot was made after a four hour ‘game of cat and mouse’ in Mosul, Iraq two weeks ago

AN SAS sniper killed an ISIS terrorist from almost 1.5 MILES away using a mega-powerful rifle, a report says.

It took three whole seconds for the bullet to reachthe terror thug in Mosul, Iraq two weeks ago.

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Reuters

A veteran sniper hit the insurgent in the throat as he tried to escape a burned-out building, killing him almost instantly, the Daily Star said.

It is believed to be one of the most difficult long-range kills in the elite regiments history.

The paper claimed the shot was fired from a CheyTac M200 a record-breaking US-made rifle with a max range of up to nearly two miles.

It was reportedly on loan to the British army as part of a battlefield trial.

The kill shot was made after a four-hour game of cat and mouse ended when the ISIS terrorist, himself a sniper, let his guard down as he moved between positions, a source told the paper.

Reuters

It was a classic counter-sniper operation, they said.

The SAS team had him in their sights on several occasions but did not have the time to get a shot off.

At such a long range there are so many factors which can affect the flight of the bullet.

The distance was so far that it took almost three seconds for the bullet to hit the target.

Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us attips@the-sun.co.ukor call 0207 782 4368

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SAS sniper ‘killed ISIS terrorist from almost 1.5 MILES AWAY’ using the world’s most powerful rifle with bullet … – The Sun

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ISIS Video Shows New Weapons, ‘American’ Urging Attacks in U.S. … – NBCNews.com

Abu Hamza al-Amriki Flashpoint

The latest video also includes photos of U.S. locations the Las Vegas Strip, Times Square, banks in Washington meant to represent potential targets, said Laith Alkhouri of Flashpoint.

Of particular interest was the weaponry on display in the slickly produced 44-minute clip put out by ISIS’ media office in Iraq.

“It showcases a range of proprietary weapons that ISIS militant workshops have developed,” Alkhouri said, pointing out rocket-propelled grenade launchers, shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, video-equipped guided missiles, a remote-controlled “rover” that can drop explosive devices under military vehicles, and a drone that could potentially drop a bomb on a crowd.

The message is that while ISIS has struggled on the battlefield and lost territory in recent months, “it’s innovating and weaponizing whatever material is available,” Alkhouri said.

ISIS used the purported American to urge terrorist sympathizers in the U.S. to use knives or vehicles to wage jihad at home. “Liberate yourself from hellfire by killing a kafir,” Abu Hamza al-Amriki says at one point.

Counterterrorism analyst Michael S. Smith II said it’s far more common to see Europeans delivering such messages in ISIS videos.

“While the Islamic State has very much doubled down on calls for attacks on the U.S….very few Americans have been the poster boys for that incitement,” he said.

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Today’s Mattis briefing: Progress report, but no ISIS strategy – Washington Examiner

MATTIS ISIS UPDATE: In what will be only his second meeting with the news media in the Pentagon briefing room in his four months on the job, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, will outline progress in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Pentagon officials say the 1 p.m. briefing will review what has been accomplished in recent months, but will not reveal the new strategy to defeat the terrorist group, which was ordered by President Trump shortly after he took office. You’re going to see some incredible numbers with respect to the success of General Mattis and others with the ISIS situation, Trump said yesterday. The numbers are staggering, how successful they’ve been the military has been. A Pentagon official yesterday confirmed Mattis would be delivering an upbeat assessment. The fact is we are doing pretty well, the official said.

SYRIA ATTACK: In Syria yesterday, the U.S. bombed a convoy of military vehicles that it said was encroaching on a deconfliction zone along Syrias southern border with Iraq. The convoy was said to comprise pro-regime Shiite militia who were heading in the direction of Tanf, where U.S. special operations forces have been training local fighters to battle ISIS. The U.S. military said the Russians, who support the Bashar Assad regime, were called on a hotline in an attempt to warn the convoy off. Eventually, U.S. warplanes fired warning shots. When the show of force was ignored, the convoy was attacked from the air. Several vehicles were destroyed, and an undetermined number of fighters on the ground were killed.

During a Pentagon event with the Swedish defense minister, Mattis said the unusual attack on Syrian pro-government forces did not reflect any change in the U.S. policy to avoid direct involvement in Syrias six-year long civil war. We’re not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war, but we will defend our troops, that is a coalition element made up of more than just U.S. troops, Mattis said. And so we’ll defend ourselves if people take aggressive steps against us, and that’s been a going-in policy of ours for a long time.

TRUMPS NEW TUNE: The president departs Joint Base Andrews this morning on his first foreign trip. Trumps first stop: Saudi Arabia, a country he excoriated on the campaign trail and during presidential debates. Saudi Arabia, Trump said last June, is a country where being gay is also punishable by death. And he singled out the kingdom for not paying its fair share for its own defense. Saudi Arabia, nothing but money. We protect Saudi Arabia. Why aren’t they paying? Trump said. And he accused the Saudi government of a pay for play scheme saying that 2010, in order to get approval from Hillary Clintons State Department to buy arms from the United States, the Saudis paid off her husband. What did Saudi Arabia do? They paid Bill Clinton a fortune to do a speech. Later that year, Clinton’s State Department signed off on arm deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, shocking, shocking, Trump said in an October campaign event.

But thats all in the past. Saudi Arabia is literally rolling out the red carpet for the American president, who is seen as a breath of fresh air after Obama administration’s cool relations with the longtime ally. American flags are flying over the streets of Riyadh, and the Saudi government has organized a dazzling array of events to coincide with Trumps visit. And the president is not arriving empty handed either. He comes bearing an arms deal reportedly worth in excess of $100 billion and which the New York Times said was personally negotiated by his son-in-lawJared Kushner.

BREAKING: Prosecutors in Sweden are dropping rape charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up the Ecuadorean embassy in London for five years. In theory that means he would be free to leave the sanctuary of the embassy, but he may still fear extradition to the United States.

Good Friday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyres Daily on Defense, compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre), National Security Writer Travis J. Tritten (@travis_tritten) and Senior Editor David Brown (@dave_brown24). Email us here for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and youd like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesnt work, shoot us an email and well add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter @dailyondefense.

HAPPENING TODAY, IRANIAN ELECTIONS: Iranians are voting today to decide whether to give incumbent Hassan Rouhani a second term, or go with his hard-line challenger cleric Ebrahim Raisi. Two other minor candidates are also in the race. Rouhani, who negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers, is seen as a moderate willing to engage with the West, while Raisi is closer to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

From the AP: Rouhani, 68, is a moderate cleric elected in 2013 on pledges of greater personal freedoms and improved relations with the West. His government negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran accept curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions.

Raisi, 56, is a hard-line cleric close to Khamenei who has vowed to combat poverty and corruption. He could pose the biggest challenge to Rouhani, especially if he can unify hard-liners.

CHINA INTERCEPT: The U.S. military is reporting what it has termed an unprofessional intercept of a U.S. WC-135 plane flying in international airspace over the South China Sea Wednesday. One of the two Chinese Sukhoi Su-30 jets flew upside down over the U.S. plane, according to CNN. A U.S. military spokesman said the intercept was unprofessional because of the maneuvers by the Chinese pilot, as well as the speeds and proximity of both aircraft, adding that the incident was being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels.

TWO CARRIERS OFF KOREA, REAGAN JOINS VINSON: The U.S. has dispatched a second aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula ostensibly to take part in training exercises. The USS Ronald Reagan has just departed Japan, and is now in the Western pacific, where the the USS Carl Vinson is already on station. Both ships are in the same general area but are not in close proximity to each other, according to one one official. We don’t discuss the future operations of our ships and aircraft, said a spokesman in an statement last night. As stated in the recent release, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 just started their 2017 spring patrol [and] are currently focused on flight deck and carrier qualifications. The deployment might be seen as preparation for a routine turnover with the Vinson strike group, were it not for the high level of tension with North Korea over its continued missile tests, and expected sixth nuclear test.

A REAL DENIAL DENIAL: Trump was unequivocal in his denial that he ever told the former FBI director to back off the investigation into a his former national security adviser. “In the light of a busy news week, people would like to get to the bottom of a couple things, WJLA reporter Scott Thuman asked at yesterdays news conference. Did you at any time urge director James Comey in any way, shape or form to back down on the investigation into Michael Flynn?” Trump cut him off with a terse, “No, no. Next question.

Trump also denied once again that there was any collusion with the Russians during the campaign. Well, I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt, he said in reaction to the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the Russian connection. There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign. But I can always speak for myself and the Russians zero, Trump said. I think it divides the country. I think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things.

The man who appointed Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, briefed senators behind closed doors yesterday. Afterward, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he thought the independent investigation would limit what Congress can do. It was a counterintelligence investigation before now, it seems to me now to be considered a criminal investigation, Graham said. I find it hard to subpoena records of somebody, like Mr. Flynn, who may be subject to a criminal investigation because he has a right not to incriminate himself. As to Mr. Comey, the former director of the FBI, coming before the committee. If I were Mr. Mueller I would jealously guard the witness pool. Graham predicted no more hearings like the recent one featuring fired deputy AG Sally Yates, or former DNI James Clapper. So one of the losers in this decision is the public, Graham said.

In that private briefing, Rosenstein reportedly told senators that he knew Trump would fire Comey before he ever wrote the memo laying out the case against him. It was clear as day, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy told MSNBC. There’s no question about it. It was in his opening statement. He laid out the narrative that ultimately led to the decision to fire Comey. Now, there are lots of holes in that narrative. But Republican Sen. Marco Rubio didnt hear it the same way. Asked, Is it your understanding that Rosenstein knew that Comey was going to be fired before he wrote his memo? Rubio answered I’m not sure he addressed that with a level of clarity that most people wanted to hear.

WILL IT BE JOE? Trump said yesterday that he is nearing a decision on who should replace Comey, telling a group of television anchors at the White House that former Sen. Joe Lieberman is his leading candidate. “We’re very close to an FBI director,” Trump said, adding that he would announce the new director “soon.” Lieberman, former Connecticut senator and vice presidential candidate in 2000, was among a handful of candidates who met with Trump on Wednesday at the White House, according to press secretary Sean Spicer. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe also met with the president this week.

OUTRAGE OVER ERDOGAN: Sens. John McCain and Dianne Feinstein on Thursday blasted Turkey’s president and urged him to punish his security staff for a bloody scuffle with protesters in Washington this week. “The violent response of your security detail to peaceful protesters is wholly unacceptable and, unfortunately, reflective of your government’s treatment of the press, ethnic minority groups and political opponents,” the two senators wrote in a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The clash outside a Turkish ambassador’s residence Tuesday was caught on video and showed dark-suited Erdogan staff punching and kicking the protesters while being pushed back by police. Earlier on Thursday, McCain said he would “throw the Turkish ambassador out,” during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

MILITARY HANDGUNS A CLICK AWAY? Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry wants to let the military do a whole lot more of its own shopping online to cut costly bureaucratic red tape. The Texas chairman of the Armed Services Committee unveiled new legislation Thursday that would allow it to buy everything from pens to treadmills from business-to-business sites such as Staples and Amazon, eliminating the current “expensive” and “onerous” contracting and scheduling process. But could it also work for firearms? Maybe it’s OK to get our handguns in a commercially available way in the future,” Thornberry said.

An expert panel told his committee this week that military handguns are a prime example of the delays and waste of acquisition that the Republican chairman has been working to root out for the past two years. The Army spent 10 years and $15 million trying to put together a request to gunmakers for an M9 Beretta replacement. Meanwhile, U.S. small arms companies make more handguns in a month than the Army will buy in 25 years. But dont expect to see any immediate legislative moves. “We take this step by step, Thornberry said. This year, hes focused on saving the Pentagon big on what he calls the less glamorous side of acquisition, such as office supplies and exercise equipment.

BRANSTAD ADVANCES: Senators voted 86-12 on Thursday to advance the nomination of Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, setting up an expected confirmation vote next week. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to be an important lieutenant to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has had to travel to Beijing once already for talks related to the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons.

“I will work tirelessly to represent America and her citizens to the best of my ability,” Branstad told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing. “I will champion American interests in China with as much fervor and dedication as I have championed Iowa’s interests during my more than 22 years as governor.”

THE RUNDOWN

War on the Rocks: With Washington in chaos, China runs the table in Asia

Vice News: The U.S. is waging a massive shadow war in Africa, exclusive documents reveal

Wall Street Journal: NATO mulls Arctic and Atlantic command to counter Russia

Roll Call: Trumps cyber executive order is more study than action

Defense One: In urgent request, U.S. special ops gets 350 more kamikaze suicide drones to fight ISIS

USA Today: NATO in Afghanistan: Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford says alliance should move quickly to deploy forces

UPI Security News: Lockheed Martin lays keel for USS St. Louis

Business Insider: US Army pulls recruiting ad after learning soldier featured is a convicted rapist

FRIDAY | MAY 19

8 a.m. 300 1st St. SE. Maj. Gen. Michael Fortney, vice commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, discusses strategic deterrence. mitchellaerospacepower.org

9 a.m. Rayburn 2118. Fiscal 2018 priorities and posture of the national security space enterprise with Gen. John Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command. armedservices.house.gov

10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Defense innovation in a change-resistant ecosystem. Csis.org

11 a.m. Pentagon Courtyard, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hosts the portrait unveiling in honor of Chuck Hagel, 24th secretary of defense.

12 p.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. Paul A. Rahe, an historian of political philosophy, examines how ancient Sparta stood firm against a great empire. Heritage.org

1 p.m. Pentagon Briefing Room. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford provide an update on the campaign to defeat ISIS.

1 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Why should the United States care about Ukraine? csis.org

MONDAY | MAY 22

11 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Avenue N.W. Rep. Mac Thornberry on military readiness, modernization, and innovation. brookings.edu

TUESDAY | MAY 23

9 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. A full day conference on civil-military relations in policy, politics and public with retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. csis.org

9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Worldwide threats with Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, and Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. armed-services.senate.gov

10 a.m. House Visitors Center 210. Open and closed hearings for the Russia Investigation Task Force with John Brennan, former CIA director. intelligence.house.gov

11:30 a.m. 800 16th St. NW. A dialogue with Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan. cabc.co

2:30 p.m. Senate Visitors Center 217. Closed hearing on Navy readiness challenges, emerging threats, and the 355-ship force objective. armed-services.senate.gov

3:30 p.m. Rayburn 2118. Budget request for U.S. Cyber Command with Adm. Mike Rogers. armed-services.senate.gov

4:30 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Debate on the modernization of nuclear missiles with retired Gen. C. Robert Kehler, former head of U.S. Strategic Command. csis.org

WEDNESDAY | MAY 24

1800 Jefferson Davis Hwy. Breakfast keynote by Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, director of the Navys Strategic Systems Programs. navyleague.org

9:30 a.m. Russell 232-A. Industry perspectives from Brian Cuccias of Huntington Ingalls, John Casey of General Dynamics, and Matthew Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders Council Of America, on options and considerations for achieving a 355-ship Navy. armed-services.senate.gov

9:30 a.m. Rayburn 2154. Oversight of the FBIs independence. oversight.house.gov

10 a.m. House 140. Testimony from Gen. Joseph Lengyel, commander of the National Guard Bureau, and the chiefs of the reserve military forces. appropriations.house.gov

10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The Russian military of 2035. csis.org

10 a.m. Dirksen 342. Border insecurity with the rise of MS-13 and other transnational criminal organizations. hsgac.senate.gov

10:30 a.m. Dirksen 192. Review of the 2018 budget for the Navy and Marine Corps with acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley and Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations. appropriations.senate.gov

11 a.m. 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW. Examining the strategic implications of Trumps first budget. stimson.org

12 p.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The threats and challenges of the South Caucasus region for the Trump administration. heritage.org

2 p.m. Rayburn 2212. Navy Fiscal Year 2018 budget request for seapower and projection forces. armedservices.house.gov

2 p.m. Hart 216. The Kremlin’s gas games in Europe and the implications for policy makers, with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. atlanticcouncil.org

2 p.m. Rayburn 2172. Nuclear deal fallout and the global threat of Iran. foreignaffairs.house.gov

2:30 p.m. Dirksen G-50. Department of Energy atomic defense activities and programs with Frank Klotz, under secretary for nuclear security. armed-services.senate.gov

3:30 p.m. Rayburn 2118. Ground force modernization budget request with Army and Marine Corps officials. armedservices.house.gov

THURSDAY | MAY 25

8 a.m. Rayburn 2212. Air Force fiscal 2018 budget request for seapower and projection forces with Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, and Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland. armedservices.house.gov

8 a.m. 300 1st St. SE. A discussion about nuclear modernization and strategic stability with Gen. Stephen Wilson, Air Force vice chief of staff. mitchellaerospacepower.org

8 a.m. 7940 Jones Branch Dr. OPNAV N4 Supply Chain Risk workshop. ndia.org

9 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Report launch on why Africa matters to U.S. national security. atlanticcouncil.org

9 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia with Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations. csis.org

9 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Rep. Adam Kinzinger about the way forward in Afghanistan, Americas longest war. wilsoncenter.org

9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Posture of the Army with Gen. Mark Milley. armed-service.senate.gov

10:30 a.m. Dirksen 138. Review of the 2018 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security with Secretary John Kelly.

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Today’s Mattis briefing: Progress report, but no ISIS strategy – Washington Examiner

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ISIS video shows off ‘new’ weapons based on old tech – Popular Science

ISIS is, by all appearances, fighting a losing war. The ultraviolent pseudo-state in Iraq and Syria stunned the world with a series of victories in 2014, but since then its been rolled back by a coalition of forces from Kurdish fighters to American airstrikes to a regrouped Iraqi Security Forces, and is losing territory daily. Beset on all sides, the embattled extremists are turning to technology for salvation.

In a slickly-produced video released today, ISIS brags about a range of new weapons, from rocket launchers to remote control gun turrets. What is most impressive, perhaps, is the languages used in the video: three different speakers describe weapons in French, English, and Russian, reflecting the foreign fighters who have left their home countries to join ISIS. The weapons themselves are clever, but nothing the world hasnt seen before, sometimes even a century ago. Here are three weapons, shown off by ISIS today, with long lineages.

Kamikaze Drone

Like few forces before it, ISIS embraced small, cheap, commercially-produced drones, turning them into headline-grabbing weapons and booby-trapped rigs. Its latest drone appears scratch-built, like the kind recovered by Iraqi Security Forces when they seized an ISIS drone workshop last year.

The video is edited to suggest that this flimsy frame can carry explosives, which makes the new ISIS drone a modern version of a century-old idea. Built in 1918, the Kettering Bug was an aerial torpedo designed for combat on the Western Front. It was tested before the war ended, but never saw action. Still, its basic concept predates both drones and cruise missiles, as an unmanned explosive built to fly a certain distance and then crash into the ground, exploding. ISIS isnt even the first insurgent group to field a kamikaze drone; rebels in Yemen use an Iranian-built one-use bomb drone, too.

Bomb Cart

Another new weapon for ISIS featured in the video is small anti-tank vehicle. Its a tracked body, like the worlds tiniest tank, and instead of a turret or anything else, it carries a land mine on its back. It seems designed to roll under tanks or other vehicles, and then detonate, blasting through the weak bottom armor.

In World War II, Nazis used a small, remotely controlled tracked machine carrying an explosive charge as an anti-tank device. Dubbed the Goliath, its range was limited by the spool of wire needed to control it, and by the fact that that cord was vulnerable to cutting. Despite negligible battlefield use, it’s commonly seen as a predecessor to modern remotely-controlled, tracked robots.

Remote Controlled Guns

The basic problem with firing a gun in battle is that it typically requires a fleshy, vulnerable human to pull the trigger. Remotely controlling a gun, instead, lets the person shoot while being somewhat removed from the danger, so remote control gun turrets are starting to be a modern battlefield staple. ISIS entry into the genre includes a monitor so the shooter can see what the gun is pointed at.

Remote control gun turrets first saw major use in the skies about World War II, with German bombers and American B-29s letting gunners inside the plane control weapons without physically holding onto them, as was required in earlier bombers. For the most part, gun turrets remained a phenomena of the aireven the venerable B-52 bomber originally had a remotely controlled tail gun for a while.

In Iraq and Syria, other rebel groups already debuted remote-control machine guns years ago. Forces fighting in Ukraine even crowdsourced funding for a remote control system that could steer either a rank or a gun turret. Last August, the Armys Foreign Military Studies Office published a report on Terrorist and Insurgent Teleoperated Sniper Rifles and Machine Guns. While ground-mounted remotely operated guns are a modern phenomenon, the report notes that other groups fighting in Syria pioneered the technology before ISIS, and that nations like South Korea, Israel, and Russia are also already developing their own sophisticated remotely controlled guns.

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ISIS video shows off ‘new’ weapons based on old tech – Popular Science

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ISIS Inspired By Times Square Crash, Warns of Vehicle Attacks on NYC Tourist Hub – Newsweek

Inspired by a crash in Times Square Thursday that left one person dead and 22 others injured, supporters of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has threatened similar vehicle attacks on the New York City tourist hub.

Related:Times Square Car Crash Driver Was In and Out of Prison Because of Drinking Problems

In an incident believed to be unrelated to terrorism, a driver plowed through crowds in the heart of the countrys most populated city. The suspect was charged with second-degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, police said.

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A day later, a pro-ISIS Telegram channel called for lone wolves to take similar actions, according to the SITE intelligent Group, which monitors extremist publications and media.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a series of vehicle attacks in Europe in recent months, including in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm. A student who rammed his car into a group of people before charging at passerby with a knife at Ohio State University last November was also inspired by ISIS, authorities believe.

On Thursday, a new video released by ISISshowed a purportedly American fighter calling for Americans to carry out knife and vehicle attacks on home soil. In the 44-minute video, photos were shown of multiple locations in the United States, including Times Square, the Las Vegas Strip and banks in Washington D.C.

A vehicle that struck pedestrians and later crashed is seen on the sidewalk in Times Square in New York City, May 18, 2017. Mike Segar/Reuters

A bearded fighter using the name Abu Hamza al-Amriki specifically mentioned knife attacks and running non-believers over with vehicles before calling for Americans to wage jihad in the U.S.

Liberate yourself from hellfire by killing a kafi (non-believer), he said, according to NBC News.

Al-Amriki translates as the American and also was the name of the last alleged U.S. fighter to appear in an ISIS video, Abu Ismail al-Amriki, who praised the gunman who killed 49 people inside a gay nightclub in Orlando last June. He added that America was at war with all the true and sincere Muslims around the world.

The new video also showcased a haul of new weapons at ISISs disposal, including drones, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, video-equipped guided missiles and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles.

It showcases a range of proprietary weapons that ISIS militant workshops have developed,Laith Aikhouri of intelligence site Flashpoint told NBC News.

ISIS has lost close to a quarter of its territory in the past year, however the video shows that it’s innovating and weaponizing whatever material is available, Aikhouri said.

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ISIS Inspired By Times Square Crash, Warns of Vehicle Attacks on NYC Tourist Hub – Newsweek

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What It’s Like to Stand Alongside the Kurdish Women Fighting ISIS – VICE

Writer’s note: In March last year, Kimberley Taylor became the first (and only) British woman to travel to Syria to take up arms against ISIS. Within days of her arrival, the 28-year-old former maths student from Blackburn joined the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) the all-female affiliate army of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) of Syrian Kurdistanand has been fighting alongside them ever since. For the past three months, Kimberley known to friends as Kimmie, but to comrades as Zilan Dilmarhas been part of the offensive to liberate Raqqa, ISIS’ de-facto capital. At the end of March, I spoke to Kimberley, over a series of Skype conversations, to find out what life is like for a woman on the frontline against ISIS. Two days later, she deployed to Raqqa to fight in what will likely be ISIS’s bitter last stand. These are her words, but they have been edited and condensed for clarity. Read part one and part two. Our unit’s rotation on the moving front finished yesterday, so they’ve given us a few days off. So I hitched a lift with the logistics van to Qamishlo [a city in northeastern Syria] to meet some old friends and do some shopping. I need T-shirts and socks. There’s something weird going on with Syrian socksthey always make my feet smell, no matter how much I wash them. Sorxwin won’t stop taking the piss out of my stinky feet. I got the socks and went for lunch with the three other Western women in the YPJtwo Swedes and a Canadian. I had two hamburgers and a beer. I can’t tell you what a treat that was after a month of chicken spam and Dairylea. And it was only the third beer I’ve drunk in a year. Kurdish girls aren’t allowed to drink for religious reasons, and you can’t drink in front of them. It tasted like heaven. I think I was a little tipsy. I miss my family terribly, especially at night. Qamishlo is the capital of Rojava [the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Syria]. The main thing you notice is a picture of Abdullah calan, the founder of the PKK and leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, on almost every wall. Known here as “Apo” (Kurdish for “uncle”), he’s been in solitary confinement in a Turkish island prison for 18 years, where he devised the social and political philosophy driving the Rojava revolution. That’s the reason I’m here. We want to destroy ISIS, of course. But something else is happening here, not just war: an anti-capitalist, secular, environmentally-friendly movement that puts women’s liberation at the centre of the struggle.They’ve torn up and redrawn all aspects of society. State education is compulsory for girls as well as boys, from the age of seven to 15, regardless of class or ethnic background. They’ve even built a university that’s open to all. There’s a co-operative system of government where a man and woman share power at every level. In the YPG and the YPJ, officers are elected by troops, and men and women fight side by side. Of course, they have had to retain some of the traditional values of Islamic culture: men of the YPG and women of the YPJ live and fight together but eat and sleep separately; men can’t bare their upper arms in front of women; and women can’t show leg or cleavage. Read the full story on Broadly.

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ISIS to evacuate its positions in southern Damascus: reports – AMN Al-Masdar News (registration)

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:20 P.M.) ISIS militants are preparing to leave the districts under their control in the southern suburbs of Damascus as per an evacuation deal with the Syrian government. According to pro-rebel activists, news spread in al-Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk Refugee camp that within a week, ISIS fighters are leaving the area for the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where the Islamic State control large swathes of land. The same activists reported that those militants have already began to sell their belongings for a cheaper price as locals willing to leave the area were asked to enroll their names Advertisement Yesterday, three ISIS jihadists were killed, one captured as the Saudi-backed Jaish al-Islam raided the groups outposts in the northern parts of Yarmouk Camp. ALSO READ Islamic State insurgents ambushed in southern Damascus by rival jihadist group

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ISIS’s real target: Saudi Arabia – Fox News

As custodian of Islams holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, and as leader of the 41-nation Islamic coalition established to combat terror, Saudi Arabia is on the front line of the global fight against radical jihadi terrorism. It is also the ultimate target of terrorist organizations that dream of controlling the center of the Islamic world and the nations vast oil wealth. President Trump, in making Riyadh his first overseas stop, is demonstrating this weekend that the U.S.-Saudi strategic relationship is a vital one, and that the kingdom is an essential partner in countering and crushing violent jihadi extremism. And yet, some critics in the West continue to ridicule any Saudi role in fighting terrorism. They accuse the kingdom of promoting Wahhabism, the conservative Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia, arguing that its teachings are a precursor to terrorism. This, despite the fact that the kingdom is itself in the crosshairs of ISIS, al-Qaeda and a revolutionary and belligerent Iran and has seen multiple terror attacks since 1995. In truth, the Saudi government understands that it has a problem, and it is working to temper the intolerance and rigid thinking of its clerics, a process that will be durable only if done gradually. Part of reforming its reactionary, conservative religious establishment involves utilizing it as a force that, while still not liberal by Western standards, can leverage its considerable stature, prestige and influence in the Muslim world to outlaw all forms of terrorism and ostracize those who promote them. Saudi Arabias progress in the fight against extremism will be also be marked by Mr. Trump when he attends the opening of a center in Riyadh intended to fight radicalism. By establishing and operating this center, our Muslim friends, including Saudi Arabia, are taking a firm stand against extremism and those who adopt a perverted interpretation of religion to advance their criminal and political agendas, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told journalists earlier this week. The kingdom is well-versed and battle-tested in this fight. The Saudi government has built a world-class anti-terrorism capability that uses intelligence, community outreach, rehabilitation and, when necessary, brute force to fight terrorism, perhaps more effectively than any other country facing such militancy in its homeland. Saudi Arabias commitment to the fight against terrorism may be hard to fathom for many Americans. After all, in the confusion following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a narrative developed that the terrorists attacked America because they wanted to change the American way of life. In fact, Al Qaeda a strain of which became ISIS has never held illusions about its capacity to spread its ideology in the United States. Instead, the 9/11 attacks were highly strategic, designed with one goal: to sever the strong SaudiU.S. alliance. There is a reason Al Qaeda deliberately chose 15 Saudis among the hijackers. It was not because of Wahhabism or because of a secret Saudi hatred of the Western way of life. It was because Al Qaedas goal has been, and remains, the provocation of a U.S.-Saudi divorce. Al Qaeda then, and ISIS today, hope to use terror to push the U.S. into withdrawing from the Gulf region, because they perceive the American presence as essential to preserving the existing political order in the Arabian Peninsula. Iran shares this strategy with ISIS, which is why it funds and arms destabilizing terror groups in the region, from Hezbollah in Syria to the Houthis in Yemen. Without an American presence in the region, jihadi leaders believe they could overthrow the Gulf monarchies. Meanwhile, campaigns of terror have only brought the U.S. and Saudi Arabia closer together, deepening a relationship that has endured for three-quarters of a century. Trumps decision to visit Riyadh first is evidence of that. This bilateral bond and strengthening alliance against terrorism between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will ensure that neither Mecca nor Main Street, USA, will fall to the perverted and murderous ideology of radical jihadis. The Trump administration is signaling its strong understanding of the critical value Saudi Arabia brings to the table in its partnership against terror. Now thats an idea worth spreading in the U.S. Ali Shihabi is the executive director of the Arabia Foundation (www.ArabiaFoundation.org), a Washington, DC-based think tank focused on the geopolitics of the Arabian Peninsula.

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Watch This Iraqi Soldier Stop An ISIS Car Bomb With A Bulldozer – The Drive

After months of intense urban combat, it appears that the Battle of Mosul is finally crawling to a close, with Iraqi forces managing to liberate all but three square miles of the city from ISIS. Yet within the enemy’s final entrenchment lies Mosul’s Old City, a dense neighborhood of narrow, twisting alleys and tightly-packed houses. The fighting will be even tougher, the risk of an ambush even greater, but it appears the Iraqi military has an ace up its sleevethe world’s bravest bulldozer driver. Iraqi forces have relied on a combination of armored vehicles (including bulldozers) to help free most of Mosul, but it’s difficult to use big trucks and heavy machinery in the Old City. They literally don’t fit. Making matters even more difficult, Mosul’s Old City holds a special significance for ISIS, as it’s where leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first declared the establishment of a “caliphate” back in 2014. They’re not going to give it up without a serious fight. Taken from inside the bulldozer’s cab, the clip shows the vantage point of Sgt. Mohammed Ali as he works to make a path for his unit through the debris-filled streets outside the Old City. He turns the machine around just in time to see a dusty, home-brew armored car speeding straight towards him and his men, and without hesitating catches it with the blade and shoves it into a wall. Seconds later, the car explodes in a massive fireball.

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SAS sniper ‘killed ISIS terrorist from almost 1.5 MILES AWAY’ using the world’s most powerful rifle with bullet … – The Sun

Impressive shot was made after a four hour ‘game of cat and mouse’ in Mosul, Iraq two weeks ago AN SAS sniper killed an ISIS terrorist from almost 1.5 MILES away using a mega-powerful rifle, a report says. It took three whole seconds for the bullet to reachthe terror thug in Mosul, Iraq two weeks ago. Getty Images www.cheytac.com Reuters A veteran sniper hit the insurgent in the throat as he tried to escape a burned-out building, killing him almost instantly, the Daily Star said. It is believed to be one of the most difficult long-range kills in the elite regiments history. The paper claimed the shot was fired from a CheyTac M200 a record-breaking US-made rifle with a max range of up to nearly two miles. It was reportedly on loan to the British army as part of a battlefield trial. The kill shot was made after a four-hour game of cat and mouse ended when the ISIS terrorist, himself a sniper, let his guard down as he moved between positions, a source told the paper. Reuters It was a classic counter-sniper operation, they said. The SAS team had him in their sights on several occasions but did not have the time to get a shot off. At such a long range there are so many factors which can affect the flight of the bullet. The distance was so far that it took almost three seconds for the bullet to hit the target. Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us attips@the-sun.co.ukor call 0207 782 4368

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ISIS Video Shows New Weapons, ‘American’ Urging Attacks in U.S. … – NBCNews.com

Abu Hamza al-Amriki Flashpoint The latest video also includes photos of U.S. locations the Las Vegas Strip, Times Square, banks in Washington meant to represent potential targets, said Laith Alkhouri of Flashpoint. Of particular interest was the weaponry on display in the slickly produced 44-minute clip put out by ISIS’ media office in Iraq. “It showcases a range of proprietary weapons that ISIS militant workshops have developed,” Alkhouri said, pointing out rocket-propelled grenade launchers, shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, video-equipped guided missiles, a remote-controlled “rover” that can drop explosive devices under military vehicles, and a drone that could potentially drop a bomb on a crowd. The message is that while ISIS has struggled on the battlefield and lost territory in recent months, “it’s innovating and weaponizing whatever material is available,” Alkhouri said. ISIS used the purported American to urge terrorist sympathizers in the U.S. to use knives or vehicles to wage jihad at home. “Liberate yourself from hellfire by killing a kafir,” Abu Hamza al-Amriki says at one point. Counterterrorism analyst Michael S. Smith II said it’s far more common to see Europeans delivering such messages in ISIS videos. “While the Islamic State has very much doubled down on calls for attacks on the U.S….very few Americans have been the poster boys for that incitement,” he said.

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Today’s Mattis briefing: Progress report, but no ISIS strategy – Washington Examiner

MATTIS ISIS UPDATE: In what will be only his second meeting with the news media in the Pentagon briefing room in his four months on the job, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, along with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, will outline progress in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Pentagon officials say the 1 p.m. briefing will review what has been accomplished in recent months, but will not reveal the new strategy to defeat the terrorist group, which was ordered by President Trump shortly after he took office. You’re going to see some incredible numbers with respect to the success of General Mattis and others with the ISIS situation, Trump said yesterday. The numbers are staggering, how successful they’ve been the military has been. A Pentagon official yesterday confirmed Mattis would be delivering an upbeat assessment. The fact is we are doing pretty well, the official said. SYRIA ATTACK: In Syria yesterday, the U.S. bombed a convoy of military vehicles that it said was encroaching on a deconfliction zone along Syrias southern border with Iraq. The convoy was said to comprise pro-regime Shiite militia who were heading in the direction of Tanf, where U.S. special operations forces have been training local fighters to battle ISIS. The U.S. military said the Russians, who support the Bashar Assad regime, were called on a hotline in an attempt to warn the convoy off. Eventually, U.S. warplanes fired warning shots. When the show of force was ignored, the convoy was attacked from the air. Several vehicles were destroyed, and an undetermined number of fighters on the ground were killed. During a Pentagon event with the Swedish defense minister, Mattis said the unusual attack on Syrian pro-government forces did not reflect any change in the U.S. policy to avoid direct involvement in Syrias six-year long civil war. We’re not increasing our role in the Syrian civil war, but we will defend our troops, that is a coalition element made up of more than just U.S. troops, Mattis said. And so we’ll defend ourselves if people take aggressive steps against us, and that’s been a going-in policy of ours for a long time. TRUMPS NEW TUNE: The president departs Joint Base Andrews this morning on his first foreign trip. Trumps first stop: Saudi Arabia, a country he excoriated on the campaign trail and during presidential debates. Saudi Arabia, Trump said last June, is a country where being gay is also punishable by death. And he singled out the kingdom for not paying its fair share for its own defense. Saudi Arabia, nothing but money. We protect Saudi Arabia. Why aren’t they paying? Trump said. And he accused the Saudi government of a pay for play scheme saying that 2010, in order to get approval from Hillary Clintons State Department to buy arms from the United States, the Saudis paid off her husband. What did Saudi Arabia do? They paid Bill Clinton a fortune to do a speech. Later that year, Clinton’s State Department signed off on arm deals between the United States and Saudi Arabia, shocking, shocking, Trump said in an October campaign event. But thats all in the past. Saudi Arabia is literally rolling out the red carpet for the American president, who is seen as a breath of fresh air after Obama administration’s cool relations with the longtime ally. American flags are flying over the streets of Riyadh, and the Saudi government has organized a dazzling array of events to coincide with Trumps visit. And the president is not arriving empty handed either. He comes bearing an arms deal reportedly worth in excess of $100 billion and which the New York Times said was personally negotiated by his son-in-lawJared Kushner. BREAKING: Prosecutors in Sweden are dropping rape charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up the Ecuadorean embassy in London for five years. In theory that means he would be free to leave the sanctuary of the embassy, but he may still fear extradition to the United States. Good Friday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyres Daily on Defense, compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre), National Security Writer Travis J. Tritten (@travis_tritten) and Senior Editor David Brown (@dave_brown24). Email us here for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and youd like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesnt work, shoot us an email and well add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter @dailyondefense. HAPPENING TODAY, IRANIAN ELECTIONS: Iranians are voting today to decide whether to give incumbent Hassan Rouhani a second term, or go with his hard-line challenger cleric Ebrahim Raisi. Two other minor candidates are also in the race. Rouhani, who negotiated the nuclear deal with world powers, is seen as a moderate willing to engage with the West, while Raisi is closer to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. From the AP: Rouhani, 68, is a moderate cleric elected in 2013 on pledges of greater personal freedoms and improved relations with the West. His government negotiated the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran accept curbs on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions. Raisi, 56, is a hard-line cleric close to Khamenei who has vowed to combat poverty and corruption. He could pose the biggest challenge to Rouhani, especially if he can unify hard-liners. CHINA INTERCEPT: The U.S. military is reporting what it has termed an unprofessional intercept of a U.S. WC-135 plane flying in international airspace over the South China Sea Wednesday. One of the two Chinese Sukhoi Su-30 jets flew upside down over the U.S. plane, according to CNN. A U.S. military spokesman said the intercept was unprofessional because of the maneuvers by the Chinese pilot, as well as the speeds and proximity of both aircraft, adding that the incident was being addressed with China through appropriate diplomatic and military channels. TWO CARRIERS OFF KOREA, REAGAN JOINS VINSON: The U.S. has dispatched a second aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula ostensibly to take part in training exercises. The USS Ronald Reagan has just departed Japan, and is now in the Western pacific, where the the USS Carl Vinson is already on station. Both ships are in the same general area but are not in close proximity to each other, according to one one official. We don’t discuss the future operations of our ships and aircraft, said a spokesman in an statement last night. As stated in the recent release, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 just started their 2017 spring patrol [and] are currently focused on flight deck and carrier qualifications. The deployment might be seen as preparation for a routine turnover with the Vinson strike group, were it not for the high level of tension with North Korea over its continued missile tests, and expected sixth nuclear test. A REAL DENIAL DENIAL: Trump was unequivocal in his denial that he ever told the former FBI director to back off the investigation into a his former national security adviser. “In the light of a busy news week, people would like to get to the bottom of a couple things, WJLA reporter Scott Thuman asked at yesterdays news conference. Did you at any time urge director James Comey in any way, shape or form to back down on the investigation into Michael Flynn?” Trump cut him off with a terse, “No, no. Next question. Trump also denied once again that there was any collusion with the Russians during the campaign. Well, I respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt, he said in reaction to the appointment of former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the Russian connection. There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign. But I can always speak for myself and the Russians zero, Trump said. I think it divides the country. I think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things. The man who appointed Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, briefed senators behind closed doors yesterday. Afterward, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he thought the independent investigation would limit what Congress can do. It was a counterintelligence investigation before now, it seems to me now to be considered a criminal investigation, Graham said. I find it hard to subpoena records of somebody, like Mr. Flynn, who may be subject to a criminal investigation because he has a right not to incriminate himself. As to Mr. Comey, the former director of the FBI, coming before the committee. If I were Mr. Mueller I would jealously guard the witness pool. Graham predicted no more hearings like the recent one featuring fired deputy AG Sally Yates, or former DNI James Clapper. So one of the losers in this decision is the public, Graham said. In that private briefing, Rosenstein reportedly told senators that he knew Trump would fire Comey before he ever wrote the memo laying out the case against him. It was clear as day, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy told MSNBC. There’s no question about it. It was in his opening statement. He laid out the narrative that ultimately led to the decision to fire Comey. Now, there are lots of holes in that narrative. But Republican Sen. Marco Rubio didnt hear it the same way. Asked, Is it your understanding that Rosenstein knew that Comey was going to be fired before he wrote his memo? Rubio answered I’m not sure he addressed that with a level of clarity that most people wanted to hear. WILL IT BE JOE? Trump said yesterday that he is nearing a decision on who should replace Comey, telling a group of television anchors at the White House that former Sen. Joe Lieberman is his leading candidate. “We’re very close to an FBI director,” Trump said, adding that he would announce the new director “soon.” Lieberman, former Connecticut senator and vice presidential candidate in 2000, was among a handful of candidates who met with Trump on Wednesday at the White House, according to press secretary Sean Spicer. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe also met with the president this week. OUTRAGE OVER ERDOGAN: Sens. John McCain and Dianne Feinstein on Thursday blasted Turkey’s president and urged him to punish his security staff for a bloody scuffle with protesters in Washington this week. “The violent response of your security detail to peaceful protesters is wholly unacceptable and, unfortunately, reflective of your government’s treatment of the press, ethnic minority groups and political opponents,” the two senators wrote in a letter to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The clash outside a Turkish ambassador’s residence Tuesday was caught on video and showed dark-suited Erdogan staff punching and kicking the protesters while being pushed back by police. Earlier on Thursday, McCain said he would “throw the Turkish ambassador out,” during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” MILITARY HANDGUNS A CLICK AWAY? Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry wants to let the military do a whole lot more of its own shopping online to cut costly bureaucratic red tape. The Texas chairman of the Armed Services Committee unveiled new legislation Thursday that would allow it to buy everything from pens to treadmills from business-to-business sites such as Staples and Amazon, eliminating the current “expensive” and “onerous” contracting and scheduling process. But could it also work for firearms? Maybe it’s OK to get our handguns in a commercially available way in the future,” Thornberry said. An expert panel told his committee this week that military handguns are a prime example of the delays and waste of acquisition that the Republican chairman has been working to root out for the past two years. The Army spent 10 years and $15 million trying to put together a request to gunmakers for an M9 Beretta replacement. Meanwhile, U.S. small arms companies make more handguns in a month than the Army will buy in 25 years. But dont expect to see any immediate legislative moves. “We take this step by step, Thornberry said. This year, hes focused on saving the Pentagon big on what he calls the less glamorous side of acquisition, such as office supplies and exercise equipment. BRANSTAD ADVANCES: Senators voted 86-12 on Thursday to advance the nomination of Trump’s pick for ambassador to China, setting up an expected confirmation vote next week. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is expected to be an important lieutenant to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has had to travel to Beijing once already for talks related to the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons. “I will work tirelessly to represent America and her citizens to the best of my ability,” Branstad told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing. “I will champion American interests in China with as much fervor and dedication as I have championed Iowa’s interests during my more than 22 years as governor.” THE RUNDOWN War on the Rocks: With Washington in chaos, China runs the table in Asia Vice News: The U.S. is waging a massive shadow war in Africa, exclusive documents reveal Wall Street Journal: NATO mulls Arctic and Atlantic command to counter Russia Roll Call: Trumps cyber executive order is more study than action Defense One: In urgent request, U.S. special ops gets 350 more kamikaze suicide drones to fight ISIS USA Today: NATO in Afghanistan: Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford says alliance should move quickly to deploy forces UPI Security News: Lockheed Martin lays keel for USS St. Louis Business Insider: US Army pulls recruiting ad after learning soldier featured is a convicted rapist FRIDAY | MAY 19 8 a.m. 300 1st St. SE. Maj. Gen. Michael Fortney, vice commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, discusses strategic deterrence. mitchellaerospacepower.org 9 a.m. Rayburn 2118. Fiscal 2018 priorities and posture of the national security space enterprise with Gen. John Raymond, head of Air Force Space Command. armedservices.house.gov 10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Defense innovation in a change-resistant ecosystem. Csis.org 11 a.m. Pentagon Courtyard, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hosts the portrait unveiling in honor of Chuck Hagel, 24th secretary of defense. 12 p.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. Paul A. Rahe, an historian of political philosophy, examines how ancient Sparta stood firm against a great empire. Heritage.org 1 p.m. Pentagon Briefing Room. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford provide an update on the campaign to defeat ISIS. 1 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Why should the United States care about Ukraine? csis.org MONDAY | MAY 22 11 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Avenue N.W. Rep. Mac Thornberry on military readiness, modernization, and innovation. brookings.edu TUESDAY | MAY 23 9 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. A full day conference on civil-military relations in policy, politics and public with retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. csis.org 9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Worldwide threats with Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, and Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. armed-services.senate.gov 10 a.m. House Visitors Center 210. Open and closed hearings for the Russia Investigation Task Force with John Brennan, former CIA director. intelligence.house.gov 11:30 a.m. 800 16th St. NW. A dialogue with Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan. cabc.co 2:30 p.m. Senate Visitors Center 217. Closed hearing on Navy readiness challenges, emerging threats, and the 355-ship force objective. armed-services.senate.gov 3:30 p.m. Rayburn 2118. Budget request for U.S. Cyber Command with Adm. Mike Rogers. armed-services.senate.gov 4:30 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Debate on the modernization of nuclear missiles with retired Gen. C. Robert Kehler, former head of U.S. Strategic Command. csis.org WEDNESDAY | MAY 24 1800 Jefferson Davis Hwy. Breakfast keynote by Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, director of the Navys Strategic Systems Programs. navyleague.org 9:30 a.m. Russell 232-A. Industry perspectives from Brian Cuccias of Huntington Ingalls, John Casey of General Dynamics, and Matthew Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders Council Of America, on options and considerations for achieving a 355-ship Navy. armed-services.senate.gov 9:30 a.m. Rayburn 2154. Oversight of the FBIs independence. oversight.house.gov 10 a.m. House 140. Testimony from Gen. Joseph Lengyel, commander of the National Guard Bureau, and the chiefs of the reserve military forces. appropriations.house.gov 10 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. The Russian military of 2035. csis.org 10 a.m. Dirksen 342. Border insecurity with the rise of MS-13 and other transnational criminal organizations. hsgac.senate.gov 10:30 a.m. Dirksen 192. Review of the 2018 budget for the Navy and Marine Corps with acting Navy Secretary Sean Stackley and Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations. appropriations.senate.gov 11 a.m. 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW. Examining the strategic implications of Trumps first budget. stimson.org 12 p.m. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The threats and challenges of the South Caucasus region for the Trump administration. heritage.org 2 p.m. Rayburn 2212. Navy Fiscal Year 2018 budget request for seapower and projection forces. armedservices.house.gov 2 p.m. Hart 216. The Kremlin’s gas games in Europe and the implications for policy makers, with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. atlanticcouncil.org 2 p.m. Rayburn 2172. Nuclear deal fallout and the global threat of Iran. foreignaffairs.house.gov 2:30 p.m. Dirksen G-50. Department of Energy atomic defense activities and programs with Frank Klotz, under secretary for nuclear security. armed-services.senate.gov 3:30 p.m. Rayburn 2118. Ground force modernization budget request with Army and Marine Corps officials. armedservices.house.gov THURSDAY | MAY 25 8 a.m. Rayburn 2212. Air Force fiscal 2018 budget request for seapower and projection forces with Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, Lt. Gen. Jerry Harris, and Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland. armedservices.house.gov 8 a.m. 300 1st St. SE. A discussion about nuclear modernization and strategic stability with Gen. Stephen Wilson, Air Force vice chief of staff. mitchellaerospacepower.org 8 a.m. 7940 Jones Branch Dr. OPNAV N4 Supply Chain Risk workshop. ndia.org 9 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. Report launch on why Africa matters to U.S. national security. atlanticcouncil.org 9 a.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Countering Coercion in Maritime Asia with Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations. csis.org 9 a.m. 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Rep. Adam Kinzinger about the way forward in Afghanistan, Americas longest war. wilsoncenter.org 9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Posture of the Army with Gen. Mark Milley. armed-service.senate.gov 10:30 a.m. Dirksen 138. Review of the 2018 budget request for the Department of Homeland Security with Secretary John Kelly.

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May 19, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

ISIS video shows off ‘new’ weapons based on old tech – Popular Science

ISIS is, by all appearances, fighting a losing war. The ultraviolent pseudo-state in Iraq and Syria stunned the world with a series of victories in 2014, but since then its been rolled back by a coalition of forces from Kurdish fighters to American airstrikes to a regrouped Iraqi Security Forces, and is losing territory daily. Beset on all sides, the embattled extremists are turning to technology for salvation. In a slickly-produced video released today, ISIS brags about a range of new weapons, from rocket launchers to remote control gun turrets. What is most impressive, perhaps, is the languages used in the video: three different speakers describe weapons in French, English, and Russian, reflecting the foreign fighters who have left their home countries to join ISIS. The weapons themselves are clever, but nothing the world hasnt seen before, sometimes even a century ago. Here are three weapons, shown off by ISIS today, with long lineages. Kamikaze Drone Like few forces before it, ISIS embraced small, cheap, commercially-produced drones, turning them into headline-grabbing weapons and booby-trapped rigs. Its latest drone appears scratch-built, like the kind recovered by Iraqi Security Forces when they seized an ISIS drone workshop last year. The video is edited to suggest that this flimsy frame can carry explosives, which makes the new ISIS drone a modern version of a century-old idea. Built in 1918, the Kettering Bug was an aerial torpedo designed for combat on the Western Front. It was tested before the war ended, but never saw action. Still, its basic concept predates both drones and cruise missiles, as an unmanned explosive built to fly a certain distance and then crash into the ground, exploding. ISIS isnt even the first insurgent group to field a kamikaze drone; rebels in Yemen use an Iranian-built one-use bomb drone, too. Bomb Cart Another new weapon for ISIS featured in the video is small anti-tank vehicle. Its a tracked body, like the worlds tiniest tank, and instead of a turret or anything else, it carries a land mine on its back. It seems designed to roll under tanks or other vehicles, and then detonate, blasting through the weak bottom armor. In World War II, Nazis used a small, remotely controlled tracked machine carrying an explosive charge as an anti-tank device. Dubbed the Goliath, its range was limited by the spool of wire needed to control it, and by the fact that that cord was vulnerable to cutting. Despite negligible battlefield use, it’s commonly seen as a predecessor to modern remotely-controlled, tracked robots. Remote Controlled Guns The basic problem with firing a gun in battle is that it typically requires a fleshy, vulnerable human to pull the trigger. Remotely controlling a gun, instead, lets the person shoot while being somewhat removed from the danger, so remote control gun turrets are starting to be a modern battlefield staple. ISIS entry into the genre includes a monitor so the shooter can see what the gun is pointed at. Remote control gun turrets first saw major use in the skies about World War II, with German bombers and American B-29s letting gunners inside the plane control weapons without physically holding onto them, as was required in earlier bombers. For the most part, gun turrets remained a phenomena of the aireven the venerable B-52 bomber originally had a remotely controlled tail gun for a while. In Iraq and Syria, other rebel groups already debuted remote-control machine guns years ago. Forces fighting in Ukraine even crowdsourced funding for a remote control system that could steer either a rank or a gun turret. Last August, the Armys Foreign Military Studies Office published a report on Terrorist and Insurgent Teleoperated Sniper Rifles and Machine Guns. While ground-mounted remotely operated guns are a modern phenomenon, the report notes that other groups fighting in Syria pioneered the technology before ISIS, and that nations like South Korea, Israel, and Russia are also already developing their own sophisticated remotely controlled guns.

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May 19, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

ISIS Inspired By Times Square Crash, Warns of Vehicle Attacks on NYC Tourist Hub – Newsweek

Inspired by a crash in Times Square Thursday that left one person dead and 22 others injured, supporters of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has threatened similar vehicle attacks on the New York City tourist hub. Related:Times Square Car Crash Driver Was In and Out of Prison Because of Drinking Problems In an incident believed to be unrelated to terrorism, a driver plowed through crowds in the heart of the countrys most populated city. The suspect was charged with second-degree murder, 20 counts of attempted murder and five counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, police said. Subscribe to Newsweek from $1 per week A day later, a pro-ISIS Telegram channel called for lone wolves to take similar actions, according to the SITE intelligent Group, which monitors extremist publications and media. ISIS has claimed responsibility for a series of vehicle attacks in Europe in recent months, including in Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm. A student who rammed his car into a group of people before charging at passerby with a knife at Ohio State University last November was also inspired by ISIS, authorities believe. On Thursday, a new video released by ISISshowed a purportedly American fighter calling for Americans to carry out knife and vehicle attacks on home soil. In the 44-minute video, photos were shown of multiple locations in the United States, including Times Square, the Las Vegas Strip and banks in Washington D.C. A vehicle that struck pedestrians and later crashed is seen on the sidewalk in Times Square in New York City, May 18, 2017. Mike Segar/Reuters A bearded fighter using the name Abu Hamza al-Amriki specifically mentioned knife attacks and running non-believers over with vehicles before calling for Americans to wage jihad in the U.S. Liberate yourself from hellfire by killing a kafi (non-believer), he said, according to NBC News. Al-Amriki translates as the American and also was the name of the last alleged U.S. fighter to appear in an ISIS video, Abu Ismail al-Amriki, who praised the gunman who killed 49 people inside a gay nightclub in Orlando last June. He added that America was at war with all the true and sincere Muslims around the world. The new video also showcased a haul of new weapons at ISISs disposal, including drones, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, video-equipped guided missiles and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles. It showcases a range of proprietary weapons that ISIS militant workshops have developed,Laith Aikhouri of intelligence site Flashpoint told NBC News. ISIS has lost close to a quarter of its territory in the past year, however the video shows that it’s innovating and weaponizing whatever material is available, Aikhouri said.

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May 19, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed


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