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Daash - Spectacular Attacks

As a result of offensive actions abroad and vigilant security measures at home, the US government reduced terrorists capabilities to perpetrate spectacular attacks on American soil. Initially, instead of al-Qaidas model of spectacular attacks, Daash [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)] adopted a diffuse lone-wolf model, which encouraged unaffiliated individuals or small cells to do whatever damage they can with whatever is at hand. This threat was decentralized and harder to detect than threats orchestrated by al-Qaida.

Up until recently the IS group had focused on the acquisition of territory to achieve its goal of a self-declared caliphate across Iraq and Syria, but with the attacks of late 2015 the group demonstrated a willingness to expand operations beyond mere territorial claims. During 2015 Daash staged a series of "spectacular" attacks that surpassed anything that al-Qaeda had accomplished since September 11th. Starting in mid-2015 Daash launched a series of attack against the various states that had attacked and opposed it. These attacks amplified the narrative of victory that had propelled Daash since early 2014.

  • Sunni suicide bombers belonging to an Islamic State cell targeted mosques of Saudi Arabia's minority Shi'ite community on 22 May 2015, killing doszens. The Saudi government quickly pledged national unity across sectarian lines and offered compensation. On July 18, 2015 top Saudi Interior Ministry officials announced that the kingdom had arrested 431 people, mostly Saudis, suspected of belonging to Islamic State sleeper cells.
  • On 26 June 2015 a terrorist attack near a hotel on the Mediterranean coast has left 37 people dead, including British, German and Belgian nationals. Interior Ministry officials said gunmen opened fire on people on a beach near the Imperial Marhaba hotel in the Tunisian city of Sousse, a popular destination for visitors from Europe and other North African countries.
  • The death toll from a massive car bombing near Baghdad continued to climb July 18, 2015, with as many as 130 people dead in an attack claimed by Islamic State extremists. Authorities called the attack, which wounded at least 170 others, the worst such bombing targeting Iraqi civilians in the past decade.
  • The 21 July 2015 suicide bombing in the town of Suruc, on the border with Syria, attack killed 32 people, mainly youths, who were preparing to take part in relief efforts in the nearby Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani. The government described the attack as the first on Turkish soil by the Islamic State group and pledged to tighten the border with Syria. The attack triggered clashes between Turkish forces and IS militants, with Turkish soldiers and jihadists engaging in cross-border exchanges of gunfire and shelling near the Turkish border town of Kilis.
  • On 10 October 2015 double suicide bombing in Ankara killed at least 97 people at a rally of the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP). The blasts happened near the main exit of the railway station in the Ulus district also wounded 246 people. That location was presumably intended to cause a high number of deaths among participants at the rally, which was organized by labor and civil society groups.
  • On 31 October 2015 the Metrojet flight with 224 people on board carrying mostly Russian vacationers from Egypt's Sinai Peninsula to St. Petersburg fell from the sky before dawn, about 20 minutes after departing the airport at the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. The IS group, which claimed responsibility, has a significant presence in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
  • Daash was responsible for terrorist bombings deep inside Hezbollahs security zone on 12 November 2015 that targeted civilians who were shopping. There were at least 46 confirmed deaths and nearly 250 wounded, many seriously. Hezbollah fighters had recently increased in numbers on the front lines in northern Syria, aiding the military of President Bashar al-Assad against rebel forces and Islamic State militants. The bombings were the first in Hezbollahs security zone for more than a year. There was reportedly 4 young men suicide bombers involved. Each wore a suicide vest, indicating a well-planned operation with a major sponsor. The attackers said to the hostages, It is [President Francois] Hollandes fault, it is the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria. They also spoke of Iraq.
  • The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks Friday 13 November 2015 at six sites across Paris, which left at least 128 dead and hundreds wounded. In the deadliest attack in Europe since the 2004 Madrid bombings, eight terrorists also were killed, but it was not clear whether there might be more insurgents or accomplices lurking in Paris neighborhoods. While the events in Paris were indeed horrific, they weren't the worst violence in France since World War II. In fact, they weren't even the worst in Paris. In 1961, French police violently dispersed a rally in support of Algeria's independence movement, the FLN. In the aftermath of the massacre, bodies were dumped in the Seine, and around 11,000 survivors were rounded up and detained. While the French government long claimed just a handful of protesters died, historians now believe as many as 300 may have been killed.
  • Six mass casualty attacks were planned in the UK by Daesh in the year 2015 with more being prepared, an intelligence chief has warned. Andrew Parker, director-general of Britains domestic security agency MI5, said 29 October 2015 he had not seen danger on this level before in his 32-year career. Intelligence services in the United Kingdom have stopped around seven attacks in the past six months, Prime Minister David Cameron said 16 November 2015. The British leader told BBC Radio 4's Today program that his country's security services have prevented "something like seven attacks in the last six months, albeit attacks planned on a smaller scale."
  • On 22 March 2016 three explosions claimed by Islamic State rocked Brussels, killing at least 30 people, according to the militant group's Amaq Agency news site. Daesh said its attackers opened fire inside the Brussels airport, before detonating explosive belts, while a suicide bomber attacked the Maalbeek [not to be confused with Molenbeek] metro station, near the main headquarters of the European Union. The attacks were likely not planned as revenge for the arrest a few days earlier of Salah Abdeslam, who oversaw the logistics for the terrorist incident in Paris It was sophisticated and as with the Paris attacks, had many moving parts. This wasnt something that was pulled together over the weekend - something hastily arranged to send a terror message about Abdeslam. The attacks may have been brought forward as a result of Abdeslams arrest for fear he may have had knowledge of the plans, which he could have disclosed to interrogators.
  • A gunman killed at least 50 people and wounded 53 others inside the Pulse nightclub in downtown Orlando, Florida, a nightclub with a primarily gay latino clientele, early Sunday 12 June 2015. This was the deadliest mass shooting in US history. Mateen also held a large number of people hostage for about three hours before a SWAT team stormed the building, killing him in a shootout. Omar Saddiqui Mateen was a US citizen, the son of Afghan parents.
    The FBI said Mateen had what he calls minimal ties to an American suicide bomber. Agents investigated him three years ago for possible terrorist ties but could not verify the allegations and closed their probe. The FBI in Orlando first became aware of Mateen in 2013, when he made "inflammatory comments" to co-workers alleging possible "terrorist ties". In that incident, the FBI interviewed Mateen twice, and also carried out separate interviews with other witnesses, as well as physical surveillance and checks on his records. In 2014, authorities interrogated Mateen anew for "possible ties" to an American suicide bomber, Moner Mohammad Abusalha, who appeared in an al-Nusra Front video in Syria. Hopper said the FBI determined that Mateen's contact with Abusalha "was minimal and did not constitute a substantive relationship or threat at that time".
    He was born in New York in 1986 and lived in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Mateen called the 911 emergency line in the city shortly before the attack, identified himself and vowed fealty to the Islamic State caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. While it was unclear whether there were direct links between the Orlando shooter, 29-year-old American-born Omar Mateen, and the Islamic State terror group, Islamic State supporters moved quickly to claim responsibility. The Amaq News Agency, a propaganda arm of IS, issued statements both in Arabic and English. The English language statement said the nightclub attack was carried out by an Islamic State fighter, and it claimed more than 100 homosexuals had been killed.
  • On 26 June 2016 dozens were killed in eastern Afghanistan as the Daesh Takfiri group launches fresh attacks on civilians and security forces. Nangarhar provincial governor, Saleem Khan Kunduzi, said in a statement on Sunday that at least a dozen Afghan security forces and civilians were killed in attacks by Daesh in the province over the past three days. "They kill people regardless of whether they're a child or a woman. They burn down madrasas, mosques and schools," Kunduzi said, adding, "There is no doubt that Daesh [terrorists] do not respect anyone."
  • On 28 June 2016 a suicide attack killed at least 44 people and injured at more than 200 at Ataturk International Airport. Turkey said three suicide bombers who carried out the deadly attack on the Istanbul airport were from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The Karsi newspaper, quoting police sources, said the three suspected attackers were part of a seven-person cell who entered Turkey on May 25. The attackers raised the suspicion of airport security on the day of the attack because they showed up in winter jackets on a summer day.
  • On 01 July 2016 there was an 11-hour standoff with a group of militants who killed 20 mostly foreign civilians at an upscale restaurant. Police tried to open a channel of communication with the militants. Several hours later, the commando operation to free the hostages began. The siege ended when security forces stormed the building, killing six attackers and capturing one. Most of the victims were hacked to death, and their killers sent photographs of the carnage to the Islamic State during the standoff.
  • On 03 July 2016 two separate bombings hit Baghdad, Iraq, early Sunday morning. In the second attack, an explosive device detonated in Baghdad's northern Shaab area, killing at least five people and wounding 16. The first was a suicide truck bombing that occurred shortly after midnight at a busy shopping area, as many Iraqi families were on the streets with their children during the last days of the holy month of Ramadan. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast in the Karrada district, saying Shi'ites were targeted. The jihadist group considers Shi'ites heretics. By 07 July 2016 the death toll from the car bombing at a crowded shopping area in Iraq's capital Baghdad last weekend had risen to 281, Health Minister Adeela Hammoud said. DNA samples have been collected from 150 families to identify bodies charred beyond recognition, Hamoud told al-Iraqiya state TV on Thursday. It was the country's worst attack since the 2003 US-led invasion.
  • Islamic State claimed responsibility for the truck attack that killed at least 84 people celebrating Bastille Day in the French city of Nice on 14 July 2016, and police arrested three more people there in connection with the seafront carnage. "The person who carried out the operation in Nice, France, to run down people was one of the soldiers of Islamic State," the Amaq news agency affiliated with the militant Islamist group said.
  • On July 23, 2016 the Islamic State claimed credit for a bomb attack in Kabul that killed at least 80 people and wounded hundreds of others during a mass protest rally. A statement said the attack, the deadliest in Kabul since 2001, was meant to warn Afghanistan's ethnic Hazaras, who are mostly Shiite, to stop joining the Syrian government in its fight against the terror group. Rights groups and analysts accused Iran of covertly recruiting and training men from the estimated 3 million Afghan refugees it hosts and sending them to Syria to fight alongside government forces.

Recent data suggested there are possibly more than 3,000 people involved in terror networks in Europe and that follow-on attacks or copy-cat attacks are a continuing concern. Belgian officials admitted they had 800 Tier One suspected jihadists but just 1,000 civilian and military intelligence officers to counter any threat they might pose.

The terrorist carnage in Paris refocused Washingtons attention on the Islamic State group and its ambition to strike within the United States. The Paris attacks demonstrated that terrorists can plan, coordinate and execute bloody plots with little or no Internet chatter or other communication that may tip off intelligence agencies.

Other events challenged the victory narrative of Daash:

  • On November 13, 2015 the US military says it was "reasonably certain" that it killed "Jihadi John," the notorious British Islamic State militant who appeared in videos depicting the murder of Western hostages, in an airstrike in Syria. Officials believe a drone strike on a car hit its intended target and that two people were killed.
  • On November 13, 201 Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. airstrikese entered the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, as they continue a large-scale offensive to retake the strategic city from Islamic State militants. The route, known as Highway 47, is used by Islamic State to transport weapons, fighters, illicit oil and other commodities that fund the militant group's operations,
  • On 14 November 2015 the U.S. Defense Department said a US airstrike has killed the head of the Islamic State group in Libya. Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said the target of the strike, Abu Nabil, was an Iraqi national and an al-Qaida operative. Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al-Zubaydi, was the senior IS leader in Libya.

The coalition and its allies on the ground defended Mosul Dam and other vital facilities in Iraq while also preventing a terrorist assault on Baghdad. It drove Daesh from the critical border town of Kobani everybody predicting it was going to fall and how terrible that would be. It didn't fall because the US ordered air strikes, and reinforced and provided ammunition and capacity, and people were able to fight back. The city of Tikrit liberated, enabling most of its population, about 100,000 people, to return and start to rebuild their communities.




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