Islamic State Operations in 2014
Black-clad jihadi militants in Iraq seized control of the embattled western city of Fallujah on January 03, 2014, raising their flag over government buildings and declaring an independent Islamic state. Witnesses said the Sunni militants, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, cut power lines in the city late in the day and ordered residents not to use backup generators. But the chief of Fallujah police, Mohamed al-Isawi, disputed the ISIS claims of control, telling The New York Times newspaper that he was repositioning his forces north of the city for a decisive battle. He said his personnel had been strengthened by an alliance of tribal leaders. The Iraqi Army repeatedly attacked and shelled the towns of Ramadi and Falluja for months thereafter, failing for the most part to dislodge the militants.
The militants' seizure of Iraqi cities in June 2014 and their swift advance southward constitute a stunning defeat for the country's Shi'ite-led government. Hundreds of fleeing soldiers reportedly tore off their uniforms and fled their posts for the safety of nearby Kurdistan. The Iraqi government called June 10, 2014 for parliament to declare a state of emergency, after militants from the al Qaida-affiliated "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" seized control of most of the northern city of Mosul and Nineveh Province. Islamic militants captured police and army positions, setting fire to vehicles. Militants also seized the airport, government offices and banks. Gunbattles between the militants and the army raged for hours, before the Iraqi military finally withdrew to positions north of the city.
Sunni Parliament Speaker Osama al Nujeifi, a political adversary of Maliki, accused the Iraqi military of abandoning Mosul, as well as their equipment, weapons and ammunition, to the Islamic militants. He said that the Mosul governor's office warned army leaders in recent weeks about the presence of armed militants in the region, but they took no preventive measures, so that when the battle came to the city, they laid down their weapons, and fled, leaving everything to the terrorists. The parliament speaker's brother is the provincial governor of Mosul and surrounding Ninevah Province.
Militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant overran the city of Tikrit and closed in on Iraq's biggest oil refinery in the town of Beiji, a day after seizing Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul. By late 11 June 2014, militants had reached the edge of Samarra, an important Shi'ite shrine almost 113 kilometers, or 70 miles, north of Baghdad. The militants threatened to destroy the shrine unless government forces left.
Sunni jihadists prepared for an assault on Samarra, home to a revered Al-Askari Shia shrine, a terror attack on which back in 2006 already sparked a sectarian war in Iraq. The militants had already tried to capture Samarra, 110km from the capital, Baghdad, twice over the last two weeks. The local tribal security forces have turned down the proposal of the militants to leave peacefully though militants promised not to destroy the shrine. A bomb explosion in 2006 resulted in mass fighting throughout the country and the deaths of tens of thousands of people.
Hawkish Republican Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) said 13 June 2014 " I'm not the commander in chief. I'm tired of telling him what to do. It's not really my place to tell him what to do... The people in the ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, and/or the Levant] have as part of their agenda to attack our homeland. The next 9/11 is in the making. Syria has become the Afghanistan before 9/11 -- it's a place for safe havens and training."
ISIL claimed to have executed 1,700 Shi’ite recruits in Tikrit and posted photos online showing dead bodies purportedly belonging to those executed. An Iraqi military spokesman, Qassim al-Mussawi, confirmed the authenticity of the photos, saying that analysis shows at least 170 slain recruits were shown in the brutal images.
When ISIS took control of Mosul in the north-west of the country, militants presented Christians with the traditional ultimatum from the time of the Prophet. They were given a choice of converting to Islam, paying the tax for non-Muslims, leaving their homes, or being put to the sword. After the given deadline, militants started violent actions and hundreds of Christian families fled their homes. While some families chose to stay and pay the tax, those who fled were sometimes stopped at checkpoints by militants and had their money, jewelry, mobile phones and medicine confiscated.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on 21 July 2014 condemned ISIL for what it called the “forced deportation” of Christians under the threat of execution, “thus further tearing apart the social fabric of the Iraqi people.” OIC Secretary-General Iyad Ameen Madani condemned what he called “the terrorist group” and said such atrocities contradict the principles of the OIC “that call for the entrenchment of a culture of tolerance and affinity among all nations and peoples.”
The Islamic State group (IS) executed 700 people from a Syrian tribe it had been battling in eastern Syria over the past two weeks, the majority of whom were civilians, a Syrian monitoring group said 16 August 2014. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has consistently tracked violence on both sides of the three-year-old Syrian civil war have said that around 700 members of the al-Sheitaat tribe, from the Deir al-Zor province, had been executed and that many of them were beheaded by IS jihadists.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] declared itself an "Islamic caliphate" on 29 June 2014, led by Caliph Ibrahim. This came as many of the world's estimated 1.6 billion Muslims started observing the holy month of Ramadan. ISIL spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said the caliphate will extend from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo to Diyala Province in Iraq. He described the establishment of the caliphate as "the dream in all the Muslims" and "the hope of all jihadists.” They removed 'Iraq and the Levant' from their name and urged other radical Sunni groups to pledge their allegiance. ISIL announced that it should now be called 'The Islamic State' and declared its chief, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as "the caliph" of the new state and "leader for Muslims everywhere," the radical Sunni militant group said in an audio recording distributed online on Sunday. This was the first time since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 that a Caliph – which meant a political successor to Prophet Muhammad – had been declared.
The State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, Brett McGurk, described ISIL as "a full-blown army" and "worse than al-Qaida" - with a potential reach far beyond the Middle East. In testimony on 24 July 2014 he said “ISIL is able to funnel 30 to 50 suicide bombers a month into Iraq. We assess these are almost all foreign fighters" he said. "It would be very easy for ISIL to decide to funnel that cadre of dedicated suicide bombers - global jihadists - into other capitals around the region, or Europe, or, worse, here [in the United States]."
A former CIA officer warned 04 September 2014 that sleeper cells of the ISIL terror group were already in the United States and capable of launching an attack on the homeland. “The people who collect tactical intelligence on the ground, day-to-day – and this isn’t Washington – but people collecting this stuff say they’re here, ISIS is here, they’re capable of striking,” Bob Baer told CNN. Baer said that some American citizens who had been to Syria to fight alongside ISIL were now back in the United States by crossing the Mexican border. US intelligence agents were aware of some people they suspect of being ISIL members and were working to gather evidence to arrest them, Baer said, adding that there are concerns about “the unknown.... They don’t know what their plans and intentions are. But it’s a definite concern... They’re waiting to get enough intelligence to actually run them in... “And then there’s the unknown, of how many people have come back they’re not even aware of.”
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant aims to establish an Islamic state in the regions it controls in eastern Syria and western Iraq. It aims to control at least the Sunni part of Iraq, and much of Syria and Lebanon. The emergence of a radical jihadist state in the heart of the Arab world would threaten the US, and American allies in the Middle East and Europe. In the long term the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant wants to be a global power, and, with the resources it was acquiring, the West and its allies face a difficult job to stop it.
A statement attributed to Al-Qaida posted 03 February 2014 on websites frequently used by al-Qaida announced it was severing ties with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL [the authenticity of the statement could not be independently verified]. The move was seen as an attempt to redirect the Islamist effort towards unseating President Bashar al-Assad rather than waste resources in fighting other rebels. ISIL has fought battles with other Islamist insurgents and secular rebel groups, often triggered by disputes over authority and territory. Several secular and Islamist groups announced a campaign in January 2014 against ISIL.
In Syria they restored land taken by the President Bashir al-Assad regime to the tribes people. They allowed them to run their businesses. They married into families. So they enhanced their position locally.
ISIL continued to gain strength from the struggle in Syria resulting in an overflow of recruits, sophisticated munitions and other resources to the fight in Iraq. The threat that ISIL was presenting was not just a threat to Iraq or the stability of Iraq, but it was a threat to the region. The states of Iraq and Syria are not able to control major population centers and have lost control of huge countryside areas. This meant that ISIL control territory, border crossing points, oil resources, mineral resources, and trade income. They have a base in the middle of the Middle East, and can organize and carry out their goals in larger parts of the Middle East.
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