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With Justin Sullivan behind bars, FBI probes into ISIS ties in North … – News & Observer


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Your week in women’s news: ISIS, healthcare and Nabra Hassenen’s murder – PRI

Hi, and welcome to my weekly column for Across Women’s Lives at PRI’s The World. Sign up here to get this in your weekly inbox.

As I write, ISIS is losing major ground in northern Iraq, and on the front lines of covering that dangerous story have been a lot of women journalists, includingCBSs Holly Williams, CNNsArwa Damonand French TVsVeronique Robert. Robert diedthis week in Paris after being badly wounded by a mine explosion in Mosul that also took the lives of two of her colleagues.

For years, ISIS and its many supporters across the Arab world have represented one of the darkest threats to women in modern times. However, theyre onthe back foot now, losing territory and revenue andKurdish female fightersare playing a role in this defeat, as areSyrianwomen reporters and activists and the Yazidi women who stood up against ISIS, likeNadia Murad.

In other news this week, the Senate health care overhaul bill created by 13 male Republicans and zero women didnt get very far. This is in large part because of a lack of support fromfemale Republican lawmakers. Lesson learned to be more inclusive? Lets see.

And I’m still following the murder of Nabra Hassanen. Police announced on Wednesday that days beforeHassanen’s murder, the current suspect in the case was arrested after being accused ofpunching, kicking and sexually assaultinganother woman. The victim didnt press charges and the suspect was released.

Data shows that violence against women should be a bigger story and we shouldnt lose sight of it in this case. Violence against woman is agateway offenseto terrorism, homicide and other conflict, research increasingly shows. Oppression of women is not a separate thing it’s linked to a host of social ills, and making those connections is part of our job as reporters investigating issues that impact women. What are your thoughts on this? Drop me a note:casquith@pri.org

This weekend, check out my favorite new column a fun, smart take on Islam and sex atMuslimgirl.com. It may shatter your stereotypes about sexual pleasure, the Quran and the Muslim world, and theres no one better to walk the tightrope of controversial topics than activist, writer and peace advocate (and friend!)Manal Omar.Read her thoughtshere.

Sign up atAcross Women’s Lives homepageand receive my column each Fridayby email.

warm regards, Christina

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Your week in women’s news: ISIS, healthcare and Nabra Hassenen’s murder – PRI

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US Brett McGurk says foreign ISIS fighters in Raqqa will "die in … – CBS News

NORTHERN SYRIA — America’s top envoy to the coalition battling ISIS, Brett McGurk, said this week that the U.S. mission in Syria is to make sure that all foreign ISIS fighters still in the city of Raqqa, die there.

“Our mission is to make sure that no foreign fighters, that any foreign fighter who is here, who joined ISIS from a foreign country and came into Syria, that they will die here in Syria If they are in Raqqa, they’re gonna die in Raqqa,” McGurk told an Arabic network on a visit to Syria.

Brett McGurk (C), U.S. special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, and Rupert Jones (L), deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), arrive for a meeting with the Tabqa Civil Council in the town of Tabqa, about 35 miles west of Raqa, Syria, June 29, 2017.

Getty

He did make it clear, however, that different rules apply to Syrians who joined ISIS in their own country, dozens of whom acknowledged had already been “pardoned” by U.S.-allied authorities in areas reclaimed from ISIS. He said the issue of domestic fighters was “something that the Syrians can work out.”

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As ISIS loses ground in Syria and Iraq, it is also losing fighters. Holly Williams reports from inside Syria, where former ISIS recruits are now …

CBS News met a group of former ISIS fighters this week, however, including women from 5,000 miles who had either defected, or were captured.

Some of them were men, others just teenagers. All of them served time in prison for fighting with ISIS but have now been released and reunited with their families. America’s allies on the ground in Syria say they’ve been reformed.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other ISIS leaders have presided over a reign of terror; enforcing a vicious interpretation of Islam unrecognizable to the vast majority of Muslims.

Ali Hamad, a former farmer, told CBS News that he joined ISIS not because he wanted to kill in the name of his religion, but out of desperation.

Play Video

U.S.-backed fighters have surrounded the Syrian city of Raqqa, which ISIS considers its capital. Holly Williams reports from inside Syria, where …

“We were hungry,” he told us, and there were no job opportunities.

Tens of thousands of people are fleeing Raqqa, the de-facto capital city of the terror group’s self-declared “Islamic State,” as U.S.-backed forces close in on the extremists.

In a refugee camp in northern Syria, a group of Indonesian women told us they joined ISIS in 2015, traveling 5,000 miles to do so because they believed the group’s propaganda.

“If you go there, you move to their place, you go to the paradise, because you are the real Muslim,” said one woman, recalling the promises that lured her to Syria.

In reality, they told us, they were abused, and their male relatives imprisoned by the extremists because they refused to fight. They ran away two weeks ago, they said, and are still too frightened of possible retribution by ISIS to show their faces.

“We are so stupid, not just naive, we are stupid. We deceived very easily.”

ISIS and its so-called Islamic State preyed on desperation and ignorance, claiming it was waging a holy war against the West. In truth, it has inflicting terrible harm on thousands of Muslims.

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US Brett McGurk says foreign ISIS fighters in Raqqa will "die in … – CBS News

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Neighbor of alleged ISIS supporter in Waxhaw: It doesn’t make me feel safe at all – FOX 46 Charlotte

WAXHAW, NC (FOX 46) –

A neighbor of the Waxhaw man charged with lying to the federal government about trying to join ISIS and help others do the same says hes surprised that the allegations involve someone in his neighborhood.

Thats the biggest shock for me. Its literally next door. Its not just on TV, Walter Wright said.

Wright is stunned to find out his neighbor in the town of Waxhaw, Alexander Samuel Smith, was arrested by the federal government and charged with lying to the FBI about his plans to travel to Syria and join ISIS.

It makes me kind of nervous because when you hear a lot of stuff about ISIS, its big major cities, Wright said.

According to the indictment, which was just released Thursday, Smith first made contact with an FBI informant back in July 2014. That informant identified himself to Smith as an ISIS representative.

Smith who met with the informant in the town of Matthews told the FBI source he wanted to go to Syria and fight with ISIS and that he could help others get there too with cheap flights, according to the indictment, which explains that Smiths girlfriend worked for an airline at the time.

The federal documents say smith eventually had his girlfriend purchase a ticket and smith emailed it, along with itinerary to the FBI informant, who had explained the ticket was for quote a brother who ISIS needed a lot.

In an interview with the FBI, according to the paperwork, Smith denied it all saying I just want to be a normal American citizen, man, and live my life.

When Fox 46 Charlotte went to Smiths house Friday, the person who answered the door saidno comment.

Wright did not know Smith, but he believes his family has lived in Waxhaw for at least a couple of years. Hes just really surprised by the accusations against his neighbor.

Its a pretty close knit community to hear any type of danger or anything of that caliber, its just like wow! You never know whats going on behind closed doors.

It doesnt make me feel safe at all. Its very uneasy.

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Neighbor of alleged ISIS supporter in Waxhaw: It doesn’t make me feel safe at all – FOX 46 Charlotte

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US-Backed Forces Surround ISIS ‘Capital’ – NPR

Syrian Democratic Forces fighters opening fire on an Islamic State group’s position in March in the countryside east of Raqqa, Syria. AP hide caption

Syrian Democratic Forces fighters opening fire on an Islamic State group’s position in March in the countryside east of Raqqa, Syria.

U.S.-backed forces have surrounded the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s so-called capital, dealing a symbolic blow to the extremist group as it continues to lose territory.

However, human rights advocates are sounding the alarm about civilians still inside the besieged city, which ISIS seized in 2014.

U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Wednesday that “up to 100,000 civilians are effectively trapped as the air and ground offensive intensifies.”

The independent Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported today that the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have completely encircled the city after making gains south of Raqqa. “IS has no other choice now but to surrender or fight to the end,” Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman told The Associated Press.

The Observatory added that Islamic State militants launched a counteroffensive later in the day in a different part of the city, resulting in intense fighting and casualties on both sides.

Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, said in a tweet that the SDF “now control all high speed avenues of approach into #Raqqah from the south.” The SDF, which is made up of Kurdish and Arab troops, initially focused on the north, east and west of the city, as we reported.

Dillon said the Islamic State fighters, “abandoned by their leadership, are being pressured by the #SDF from multiple axes around the city.”

Hussein, the U.N. rights chief, said that the U.N. has documented at least 173 civilians killed in Raqqa this month and he believes the actual toll “may be much higher.”

The SDF has encouraged civilians to flee from Raqqa. Many have. But the statement from Hussein’s office said that fleeing also has proved extremely dangerous:

“While some did manage to leave after paying large sums of money to smugglers, including smugglers affiliated with ISIL, reports continue to emerge of ISIL preventing civilians from fleeing. Those who attempt to flee also risk being killed by landmines or getting caught in the crossfire.”

He added: “Civilians must not be sacrificed for the sake of rapid military victories.”

It’s not clear exactly how many ISIS fighters remain in the besieged city the BBC reported that there were “up to 4,000” still there, while Col. Joe Scrocca from the U.S.-led coalition put the number at about 2,500, the Associated Press reported.

The U.S.-backed troops have been fighting in nearby areas since November to try to isolate Raqqa. Earlier this month, they officially launched the operation to try to seize control of the city itself, aided by U.S.-led air support and military advisers.

In an interview with Morning Edition earlier this month, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the operation against ISIS, said the coalition has destroyed all the bridges across the Euphrates River, which runs along the southern side of the city. “Unless you can swim or make a raft, it’s really hard to get across the river in any significant numbers,” he said.

The commander stressed that the forces fighting ISIS are likely to face obstacles as they push into the ISIS-controlled city: “This is their capital, and they’ve had better than three years to prepare the defenses of the city.”

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US-Backed Forces Surround ISIS ‘Capital’ – NPR

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ISIS is losing Mosul and most of its income – CNNMoney

Analysts and security experts at IHS Markit estimate that the terror group’s earnings have plunged by 80% over the past two years as territorial losses starved it of oil and tax revenue.

ISIS brought in $16 million per month in the second quarter of 2017, a sharp decline from $81 million a month during the same period in 2015, according to IHS Markit’s Conflict Monitor, which draws on interviews, Islamic State documents, the United Nations, and Syrian opposition sources.

The report underscores just how much has changed for a group that became the world’s richest terrorist organization by taxing the people in its territory, selling oil on the black market, smuggling stolen archeological artifacts and demanding kidnapping ransoms.

“Territorial losses are the main factor contributing to the Islamic State’s loss of revenue,” Ludovico Carlino, senior Middle East analyst at IHS Markit, said in a statement.

The analysts said that average monthly oil revenue is down 88% from 2015, while income from taxation and confiscation has fallen by 79%.

Three years since the group declared a self-styled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is reeling from losses across its so-called caliphate.

Related: As Iraqi troops near, ISIS leaves death and destruction in Mosul

It is fast losing its grip on Mosul, its biggest hub in Iraq, and its de-facto capital in Syria — Raqqa — is all but surrounded.

IHS Markit estimated that ISIS has lost 60% of its land since January 2015, with its holdings now reduced to a territory the size of Belgium.

“Losing control of the heavily populated Iraqi city of Mosul, and oil rich areas in the Syrian provinces of Raqqa and Homs, has had a particularly significant impact on the group’s ability to generate revenue,” said Carlino.

Related: Islamic State 2.0: As the caliphate crumbles, ISIS evolves

The analysts said that ISIS will seek to adapt to the severe loss of financing and territory by returning to what it does best — agile attacks, mobility and surprise.

“Although the Islamic State still appears to be involved in some commercial activity, especially oil production, there are indications that it is attempting to increase its financial ‘reserves,’ accelerating the shift from a highly bureaucratic and centralized quasi-state economy towards funding a future insurgency through a real war-economy,” Carlino said.

— Jose Pagliery and Tim Lister contributed reporting.

CNNMoney (London) First published June 29, 2017: 1:07 PM ET

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ISIS is losing Mosul and most of its income – CNNMoney

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Feds confirm ISIS investigations underway in NC – Charlotte Observer


Charlotte Observer
Feds confirm ISIS investigations underway in NC
Charlotte Observer
Shortly after Justin Sullivan was sentenced to life in prison for planning to commit mass murder in support of the Islamic State, U.S. Attorney Jill Rose of Charlotte confirmed that investigations of other suspected ISIS sympathizers continue in North
North Carolina man gets life in prison for plotting ISIS-inspired shootingCBS News
North Carolina man who plotted attack for ISIS is sentencedFox News
NC teen with ties to ISIS sentenced to life in prisonFOX 46 Charlotte
WSOC Charlotte –myfox8.com –Department of Justice –New York Times
all 95 news articles »

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Feds confirm ISIS investigations underway in NC – Charlotte Observer

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House panel votes to repeal war authorization for fight against ISIS and al Qaeda – CNN International

The House Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote an amendment from Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California that would repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force eight months after the appropriations bill was signed into law.

The amendment is intended is to force Congress to debate and pass a new war authorization for the war against ISIS and al Qaeda. Critics like Lee argue the 2001 war authorization is overly broad and gives the president “the authority to wage war in perpetuity.”

This is believed to be the first time a congressional panel has voted to repeal the 2001 AUMF, setting the stage for a rare House floor debate and potential vote on an issue that lawmakers in both parties have been reluctant to take up, still wary of the consequences for Hillary Clinton and others after the 2002 Iraq War vote.

The measure leaves open the question of what authorization would replace the 2001 AUMF, setting up the prospect of adding a major debate about the US role in the fight against ISIS to what’s already a packed congressional agenda with health care, tax reform, spending cuts and more.

However, the provision is a long way from being signed into law, as the defense appropriations bill will have to be eventually reconciled in the Senate, giving congressional leaders the ability to strip the AUMF language from a final spending bill.

“Today was just another step in the process, but it was historic, we got consensus in the appropriations committee,” said Lee, who was the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 AUMF.

The 2001 AUMF was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The call to pass a new war authorization intensified in 2014 when the US began fighting against ISIS in Iraq, but congressional leaders have resisted efforts to put AUMF bills on the floor.

The amendment quickly provoked opposition, which could foreshadow a floor fight next month when the defense bill is expected to go to the floor.

“I am shocked and deeply troubled by the decision of the House Appropriations Committee to adopt an amendment that rescinds the authority granted by Congress to allow the President to execute the war against terrorism,” said Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

In the appropriations markup Thursday, Lee’s amendment picked up steam from Republicans during debate, including Reps. Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Chris Stewart of Utah, an Air Force veteran.

“They have the courage to go out and fight these wars, and they notice we don’t have the courage to debate this and give them the authority to go out and do this,” said Stewart, an Air Force veteran.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat, said he had planned to vote against Lee’s amendment but changed his mind during the debate.

The amendment passed by voice vote, eliciting cheers from Democrats.

In the Senate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said the House vote could help spur additional momentum for Congress to take up a new war authorization. Kaine’s bill with Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake could be taken up in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next month, he said.

“It hopefully will add some additional energy for the need to try to come up with a better, more current version,” Kaine said.

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House panel votes to repeal war authorization for fight against ISIS and al Qaeda – CNN International

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"Poor and hungry": Ex-ISIS recruits on what drove them to join – CBS News

AYN ISSA, Syria — Eighty-one men and boys — all accused of fighting for ISIS in Syria and now reformed after serving time in prison, according to America’s Syrian allies — have been reunited with their families.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his army of terrorists enforced a version of Islam unrecognizable to most Muslims, marked by vicious acts of violence.

CBS News

But Ezadeen Khalaf, a former shepherd, said he joined ISIS not because he wanted to kill in the name of his religion, but out of desperation.

“We were poor and hungry,” Khalaf said. “Either you join ISIS and earn a salary or you have nothing.”

He and most of the others have now signed up to fight against ISIS.

Thousands of other young Muslims joined ISIS for more complicated reasons. They came from Europe, rejecting the West and its values for extremism.

Some apparently were so alienated from their communities that they returned home to carry out terror attacks.

In a refugee camp in northern Syria, a group of Indonesian women told CBS News they were simply gullible, traveling 5,000 miles to the so-called Islamic State in 2015 because they believed ISIS propaganda.

Play Video

U.S.-backed fighters have surrounded the Syrian city of Raqqa, which ISIS considers its capital. Holly Williams reports from inside Syria, where …

“Best place in the world and the people in there very happy, no poor, no sad,” one of the women said of what drew her.

In reality, they said they were abused and their menfolk imprisoned by the extremists because they refused to fight. They ran away two weeks ago, and are too frightened of retribution from ISIS to show their faces

“Not just nave, we are stupid. We deceived very easily,” another said.

ISIS tried to ignite a war between Islam and the West, and to do so it preyed on anger, poverty and ignorance.

2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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With Justin Sullivan behind bars, FBI probes into ISIS ties in North … – News & Observer

News & Observer With Justin Sullivan behind bars, FBI probes into ISIS ties in North … News & Observer Shortly after Justin Sullivan was sentenced to life in prison for planning to commit mass murder in support of the Islamic State, U.S. Attorney Jill Rose of Charlotte … North Carolina man gets life in prison for plotting ISIS -inspired shooting CBS News In rural NC, teen planned to unveil an 'Islamic State of North America' Charlotte Observer North Carolina man who plotted attack for ISIS is sentenced Fox News myfox8.com  – WSOC Charlotte  – Department of Justice  – New York Times all 93 news articles »

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Your week in women’s news: ISIS, healthcare and Nabra Hassenen’s murder – PRI

Hi, and welcome to my weekly column for Across Women’s Lives at PRI’s The World. Sign up here to get this in your weekly inbox. As I write, ISIS is losing major ground in northern Iraq, and on the front lines of covering that dangerous story have been a lot of women journalists, includingCBSs Holly Williams, CNNsArwa Damonand French TVsVeronique Robert. Robert diedthis week in Paris after being badly wounded by a mine explosion in Mosul that also took the lives of two of her colleagues. For years, ISIS and its many supporters across the Arab world have represented one of the darkest threats to women in modern times. However, theyre onthe back foot now, losing territory and revenue andKurdish female fightersare playing a role in this defeat, as areSyrianwomen reporters and activists and the Yazidi women who stood up against ISIS, likeNadia Murad. In other news this week, the Senate health care overhaul bill created by 13 male Republicans and zero women didnt get very far. This is in large part because of a lack of support fromfemale Republican lawmakers. Lesson learned to be more inclusive? Lets see. And I’m still following the murder of Nabra Hassanen. Police announced on Wednesday that days beforeHassanen’s murder, the current suspect in the case was arrested after being accused ofpunching, kicking and sexually assaultinganother woman. The victim didnt press charges and the suspect was released. Data shows that violence against women should be a bigger story and we shouldnt lose sight of it in this case. Violence against woman is agateway offenseto terrorism, homicide and other conflict, research increasingly shows. Oppression of women is not a separate thing it’s linked to a host of social ills, and making those connections is part of our job as reporters investigating issues that impact women. What are your thoughts on this? Drop me a note:casquith@pri.org This weekend, check out my favorite new column a fun, smart take on Islam and sex atMuslimgirl.com. It may shatter your stereotypes about sexual pleasure, the Quran and the Muslim world, and theres no one better to walk the tightrope of controversial topics than activist, writer and peace advocate (and friend!)Manal Omar.Read her thoughtshere. Sign up atAcross Women’s Lives homepageand receive my column each Fridayby email. warm regards, Christina

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US Brett McGurk says foreign ISIS fighters in Raqqa will "die in … – CBS News

NORTHERN SYRIA — America’s top envoy to the coalition battling ISIS, Brett McGurk, said this week that the U.S. mission in Syria is to make sure that all foreign ISIS fighters still in the city of Raqqa, die there. “Our mission is to make sure that no foreign fighters, that any foreign fighter who is here, who joined ISIS from a foreign country and came into Syria, that they will die here in Syria If they are in Raqqa, they’re gonna die in Raqqa,” McGurk told an Arabic network on a visit to Syria. Brett McGurk (C), U.S. special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, and Rupert Jones (L), deputy commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), arrive for a meeting with the Tabqa Civil Council in the town of Tabqa, about 35 miles west of Raqa, Syria, June 29, 2017. Getty He did make it clear, however, that different rules apply to Syrians who joined ISIS in their own country, dozens of whom acknowledged had already been “pardoned” by U.S.-allied authorities in areas reclaimed from ISIS. He said the issue of domestic fighters was “something that the Syrians can work out.” Play Video As ISIS loses ground in Syria and Iraq, it is also losing fighters. Holly Williams reports from inside Syria, where former ISIS recruits are now … CBS News met a group of former ISIS fighters this week, however, including women from 5,000 miles who had either defected, or were captured. Some of them were men, others just teenagers. All of them served time in prison for fighting with ISIS but have now been released and reunited with their families. America’s allies on the ground in Syria say they’ve been reformed. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and other ISIS leaders have presided over a reign of terror; enforcing a vicious interpretation of Islam unrecognizable to the vast majority of Muslims. Ali Hamad, a former farmer, told CBS News that he joined ISIS not because he wanted to kill in the name of his religion, but out of desperation. Play Video U.S.-backed fighters have surrounded the Syrian city of Raqqa, which ISIS considers its capital. Holly Williams reports from inside Syria, where … “We were hungry,” he told us, and there were no job opportunities. Tens of thousands of people are fleeing Raqqa, the de-facto capital city of the terror group’s self-declared “Islamic State,” as U.S.-backed forces close in on the extremists. In a refugee camp in northern Syria, a group of Indonesian women told us they joined ISIS in 2015, traveling 5,000 miles to do so because they believed the group’s propaganda. “If you go there, you move to their place, you go to the paradise, because you are the real Muslim,” said one woman, recalling the promises that lured her to Syria. In reality, they told us, they were abused, and their male relatives imprisoned by the extremists because they refused to fight. They ran away two weeks ago, they said, and are still too frightened of possible retribution by ISIS to show their faces. “We are so stupid, not just naive, we are stupid. We deceived very easily.” ISIS and its so-called Islamic State preyed on desperation and ignorance, claiming it was waging a holy war against the West. In truth, it has inflicting terrible harm on thousands of Muslims.

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Neighbor of alleged ISIS supporter in Waxhaw: It doesn’t make me feel safe at all – FOX 46 Charlotte

WAXHAW, NC (FOX 46) – A neighbor of the Waxhaw man charged with lying to the federal government about trying to join ISIS and help others do the same says hes surprised that the allegations involve someone in his neighborhood. Thats the biggest shock for me. Its literally next door. Its not just on TV, Walter Wright said. Wright is stunned to find out his neighbor in the town of Waxhaw, Alexander Samuel Smith, was arrested by the federal government and charged with lying to the FBI about his plans to travel to Syria and join ISIS. It makes me kind of nervous because when you hear a lot of stuff about ISIS, its big major cities, Wright said. According to the indictment, which was just released Thursday, Smith first made contact with an FBI informant back in July 2014. That informant identified himself to Smith as an ISIS representative. Smith who met with the informant in the town of Matthews told the FBI source he wanted to go to Syria and fight with ISIS and that he could help others get there too with cheap flights, according to the indictment, which explains that Smiths girlfriend worked for an airline at the time. The federal documents say smith eventually had his girlfriend purchase a ticket and smith emailed it, along with itinerary to the FBI informant, who had explained the ticket was for quote a brother who ISIS needed a lot. In an interview with the FBI, according to the paperwork, Smith denied it all saying I just want to be a normal American citizen, man, and live my life. When Fox 46 Charlotte went to Smiths house Friday, the person who answered the door saidno comment. Wright did not know Smith, but he believes his family has lived in Waxhaw for at least a couple of years. Hes just really surprised by the accusations against his neighbor. Its a pretty close knit community to hear any type of danger or anything of that caliber, its just like wow! You never know whats going on behind closed doors. It doesnt make me feel safe at all. Its very uneasy.

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US-Backed Forces Surround ISIS ‘Capital’ – NPR

Syrian Democratic Forces fighters opening fire on an Islamic State group’s position in March in the countryside east of Raqqa, Syria. AP hide caption Syrian Democratic Forces fighters opening fire on an Islamic State group’s position in March in the countryside east of Raqqa, Syria. U.S.-backed forces have surrounded the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s so-called capital, dealing a symbolic blow to the extremist group as it continues to lose territory. However, human rights advocates are sounding the alarm about civilians still inside the besieged city, which ISIS seized in 2014. U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said Wednesday that “up to 100,000 civilians are effectively trapped as the air and ground offensive intensifies.” The independent Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported today that the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have completely encircled the city after making gains south of Raqqa. “IS has no other choice now but to surrender or fight to the end,” Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman told The Associated Press. The Observatory added that Islamic State militants launched a counteroffensive later in the day in a different part of the city, resulting in intense fighting and casualties on both sides. Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, said in a tweet that the SDF “now control all high speed avenues of approach into #Raqqah from the south.” The SDF, which is made up of Kurdish and Arab troops, initially focused on the north, east and west of the city, as we reported. Dillon said the Islamic State fighters, “abandoned by their leadership, are being pressured by the #SDF from multiple axes around the city.” Hussein, the U.N. rights chief, said that the U.N. has documented at least 173 civilians killed in Raqqa this month and he believes the actual toll “may be much higher.” The SDF has encouraged civilians to flee from Raqqa. Many have. But the statement from Hussein’s office said that fleeing also has proved extremely dangerous: “While some did manage to leave after paying large sums of money to smugglers, including smugglers affiliated with ISIL, reports continue to emerge of ISIL preventing civilians from fleeing. Those who attempt to flee also risk being killed by landmines or getting caught in the crossfire.” He added: “Civilians must not be sacrificed for the sake of rapid military victories.” It’s not clear exactly how many ISIS fighters remain in the besieged city the BBC reported that there were “up to 4,000” still there, while Col. Joe Scrocca from the U.S.-led coalition put the number at about 2,500, the Associated Press reported. The U.S.-backed troops have been fighting in nearby areas since November to try to isolate Raqqa. Earlier this month, they officially launched the operation to try to seize control of the city itself, aided by U.S.-led air support and military advisers. In an interview with Morning Edition earlier this month, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the operation against ISIS, said the coalition has destroyed all the bridges across the Euphrates River, which runs along the southern side of the city. “Unless you can swim or make a raft, it’s really hard to get across the river in any significant numbers,” he said. The commander stressed that the forces fighting ISIS are likely to face obstacles as they push into the ISIS-controlled city: “This is their capital, and they’ve had better than three years to prepare the defenses of the city.”

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June 29, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

ISIS is losing Mosul and most of its income – CNNMoney

Analysts and security experts at IHS Markit estimate that the terror group’s earnings have plunged by 80% over the past two years as territorial losses starved it of oil and tax revenue. ISIS brought in $16 million per month in the second quarter of 2017, a sharp decline from $81 million a month during the same period in 2015, according to IHS Markit’s Conflict Monitor, which draws on interviews, Islamic State documents, the United Nations, and Syrian opposition sources. The report underscores just how much has changed for a group that became the world’s richest terrorist organization by taxing the people in its territory, selling oil on the black market, smuggling stolen archeological artifacts and demanding kidnapping ransoms. “Territorial losses are the main factor contributing to the Islamic State’s loss of revenue,” Ludovico Carlino, senior Middle East analyst at IHS Markit, said in a statement. The analysts said that average monthly oil revenue is down 88% from 2015, while income from taxation and confiscation has fallen by 79%. Three years since the group declared a self-styled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIS is reeling from losses across its so-called caliphate. Related: As Iraqi troops near, ISIS leaves death and destruction in Mosul It is fast losing its grip on Mosul, its biggest hub in Iraq, and its de-facto capital in Syria — Raqqa — is all but surrounded. IHS Markit estimated that ISIS has lost 60% of its land since January 2015, with its holdings now reduced to a territory the size of Belgium. “Losing control of the heavily populated Iraqi city of Mosul, and oil rich areas in the Syrian provinces of Raqqa and Homs, has had a particularly significant impact on the group’s ability to generate revenue,” said Carlino. Related: Islamic State 2.0: As the caliphate crumbles, ISIS evolves The analysts said that ISIS will seek to adapt to the severe loss of financing and territory by returning to what it does best — agile attacks, mobility and surprise. “Although the Islamic State still appears to be involved in some commercial activity, especially oil production, there are indications that it is attempting to increase its financial ‘reserves,’ accelerating the shift from a highly bureaucratic and centralized quasi-state economy towards funding a future insurgency through a real war-economy,” Carlino said. — Jose Pagliery and Tim Lister contributed reporting. CNNMoney (London) First published June 29, 2017: 1:07 PM ET

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June 29, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

Feds confirm ISIS investigations underway in NC – Charlotte Observer

Charlotte Observer Feds confirm ISIS investigations underway in NC Charlotte Observer Shortly after Justin Sullivan was sentenced to life in prison for planning to commit mass murder in support of the Islamic State, U.S. Attorney Jill Rose of Charlotte confirmed that investigations of other suspected ISIS sympathizers continue in North … North Carolina man gets life in prison for plotting ISIS -inspired shooting CBS News North Carolina man who plotted attack for ISIS is sentenced Fox News NC teen with ties to ISIS sentenced to life in prison FOX 46 Charlotte WSOC Charlotte  – myfox8.com  – Department of Justice  – New York Times all 95 news articles »

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June 29, 2017   Posted in: ISIS  Comments Closed

House panel votes to repeal war authorization for fight against ISIS and al Qaeda – CNN International

The House Appropriations Committee approved by voice vote an amendment from Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California that would repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force eight months after the appropriations bill was signed into law. The amendment is intended is to force Congress to debate and pass a new war authorization for the war against ISIS and al Qaeda. Critics like Lee argue the 2001 war authorization is overly broad and gives the president “the authority to wage war in perpetuity.” This is believed to be the first time a congressional panel has voted to repeal the 2001 AUMF, setting the stage for a rare House floor debate and potential vote on an issue that lawmakers in both parties have been reluctant to take up, still wary of the consequences for Hillary Clinton and others after the 2002 Iraq War vote. The measure leaves open the question of what authorization would replace the 2001 AUMF, setting up the prospect of adding a major debate about the US role in the fight against ISIS to what’s already a packed congressional agenda with health care, tax reform, spending cuts and more. However, the provision is a long way from being signed into law, as the defense appropriations bill will have to be eventually reconciled in the Senate, giving congressional leaders the ability to strip the AUMF language from a final spending bill. “Today was just another step in the process, but it was historic, we got consensus in the appropriations committee,” said Lee, who was the only member of Congress to vote against the 2001 AUMF. The 2001 AUMF was passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The call to pass a new war authorization intensified in 2014 when the US began fighting against ISIS in Iraq, but congressional leaders have resisted efforts to put AUMF bills on the floor. The amendment quickly provoked opposition, which could foreshadow a floor fight next month when the defense bill is expected to go to the floor. “I am shocked and deeply troubled by the decision of the House Appropriations Committee to adopt an amendment that rescinds the authority granted by Congress to allow the President to execute the war against terrorism,” said Illinois Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger. In the appropriations markup Thursday, Lee’s amendment picked up steam from Republicans during debate, including Reps. Tom Cole of Oklahoma and Chris Stewart of Utah, an Air Force veteran. “They have the courage to go out and fight these wars, and they notice we don’t have the courage to debate this and give them the authority to go out and do this,” said Stewart, an Air Force veteran. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a Maryland Democrat, said he had planned to vote against Lee’s amendment but changed his mind during the debate. The amendment passed by voice vote, eliciting cheers from Democrats. In the Senate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said the House vote could help spur additional momentum for Congress to take up a new war authorization. Kaine’s bill with Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake could be taken up in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next month, he said. “It hopefully will add some additional energy for the need to try to come up with a better, more current version,” Kaine said.

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"Poor and hungry": Ex-ISIS recruits on what drove them to join – CBS News

AYN ISSA, Syria — Eighty-one men and boys — all accused of fighting for ISIS in Syria and now reformed after serving time in prison, according to America’s Syrian allies — have been reunited with their families. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his army of terrorists enforced a version of Islam unrecognizable to most Muslims, marked by vicious acts of violence. CBS News But Ezadeen Khalaf, a former shepherd, said he joined ISIS not because he wanted to kill in the name of his religion, but out of desperation. “We were poor and hungry,” Khalaf said. “Either you join ISIS and earn a salary or you have nothing.” He and most of the others have now signed up to fight against ISIS. Thousands of other young Muslims joined ISIS for more complicated reasons. They came from Europe, rejecting the West and its values for extremism. Some apparently were so alienated from their communities that they returned home to carry out terror attacks. In a refugee camp in northern Syria, a group of Indonesian women told CBS News they were simply gullible, traveling 5,000 miles to the so-called Islamic State in 2015 because they believed ISIS propaganda. Play Video U.S.-backed fighters have surrounded the Syrian city of Raqqa, which ISIS considers its capital. Holly Williams reports from inside Syria, where … “Best place in the world and the people in there very happy, no poor, no sad,” one of the women said of what drew her. In reality, they said they were abused and their menfolk imprisoned by the extremists because they refused to fight. They ran away two weeks ago, and are too frightened of retribution from ISIS to show their faces “Not just nave, we are stupid. We deceived very easily,” another said. ISIS tried to ignite a war between Islam and the West, and to do so it preyed on anger, poverty and ignorance. 2017 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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