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by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
June 25, 2014

In-Depth Issues:

Young Islamists Admire ISIS for Its Brutality - Daniel Nisman and Ron Gilran (Wall Street Journal)
    Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi could very well take the helm of a reinvigorated global jihadist movement. Yet despite his rapid rise, al-Baghdadi has crossed several red lines, and his peers have reproached him.
    Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al-Qaeda's central leadership, remains widely respected across radical networks as the one and only head of al-Qaeda, which itself is perceived as the sole umbrella network of global jihad.
    While al-Baghdadi may be viewed with suspicion by the old generation of jihadists, he is rapidly gaining favor among the younger generation, which is struggling to find a sufficiently extremist voice among traditional al-Qaeda branches in the region and beyond.
    Several upstart jihadist militias and Salafist movements in eastern Libya, Jordan, Gaza and Yemen have also unilaterally declared allegiance to al-Baghdadi, in some cases claiming to have established ISIS branches in their home countries.
    They've seen al-Baghdadi's ability to bring real results in Iraq, while al-Zawahiri hides in Pakistan's tribal territories.

1,000 Chinese Jihadists Training in Pakistan - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
    Some 1,000 Chinese jihadists are receiving military training in Pakistan, while other Chinese nationals are fighting inside Syria, Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah told a high-level delegation from China at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
    The Chinese delegation included several participants from the Central Party School (CPS) of the Communist Party's central committee, which has served as a training ground for China's top leadership, including its president, Xi Jinping.
    Israel has "a great deal of knowledge about the spread of jihadist organizations," said Jerusalem Center head Dore Gold, who noted that Israel and China have "shared strategic foreign policy interests" - among the most important being counter-terrorism.

Questions Rebels Use to Tell Sunni from Shiite - Alissa J. Rubin (New York Times)
    As ISIS has seized vast territories in western and northern Iraq, there have been frequent accounts of fighters capturing groups of people and releasing the Sunnis while the Shiites are singled out for execution.
    But how can ISIS tell whether a person is a Sunni or a Shiite? Generally, Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis are often indistinguishable in appearance.
    From accounts of people who survived encounters with the militants, it seems they often ask a list of questions. Here are some of them.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iraqi Kurdistan Leader Massoud Barzani Says "The Time Is Here" for Self-Determination - Mick Krever
    Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani told CNN's Christiane Amanpour, "Iraq is obviously falling apart....After the recent events in Iraq, it has been proved that the Kurdish people should seize the opportunity now - the Kurdistan people should now determine their future."
        Barzani said that he would make that case to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when they meet in Erbil Tuesday; America is a close Kurdish ally, but opposes independence for the region. (CNN)
        See also Kerry Implores Kurdish Leader to Join Iraqi Government and Not Break Away - Michael R. Gordon
    Secretary of State John Kerry urged the president of Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, Massoud Barzani, on Tuesday not to seek his own state and instead help form a government in Baghdad. (New York Times)
  • British Muslims Flock to ISIS - Dominic Kennedy
    Two British jihadists appeared in a terrorism recruitment video for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the insurgent group now on a bloody rampage towards Baghdad, urging Muslims to fight in Syria. Nasser Muthana and Reyaad Khan, both 20, went to the Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, which is aligned to the ultra-conservative Salafi wing of Islam. The Salafis have seen their places of worship increase by 50% in four years and are poised to control half the mosques in Britain within a generation.
        While in the U.S., 56% of mosque leaders there have a modern outlook, only two out of nearly 1,700 mosques in the UK are controlled by modernists. (Times of London-UK)
        See also ISIS Head Is a Terrorist with Gang-Leader Charisma - David Ignatius
    A glimpse of the passionate loyalty inspired by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, comes in a recent video made by a 20-year-old Muslim recruit from Cardiff, Wales. "In a few days we will go to Iraq and will fight them and will even go to Lebanon and Jordan, wherever our sheik [Baghdadi] wants to send us. Send us, we are your sharp arrows. Throw us at your enemies, wherever they may be," pledges the young man to Baghdadi on the video.
        Baghdadi's ability to inspire such intense support worries U.S. officials. His fighters combine a fanatical passion with an unusual degree of organization, technical skill and tactical planning. Baghdadi is creating his own "emirate," guarded by tanks and heavy weapons, something bin Laden only dreamed of. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Jordan, Israel Cooperate in Face of ISIS Threat - Roi Kais
    Cooperation between Israel and Jordan is growing as ISIS makes additional gains in Iraq, near the Jordan border, a senior source in the Jordanian Embassy in Israel told Ynet. "There is a very good cooperation between us regarding ISIS' growing presence in Iraq and Syria, but also on issues relating to other radical forces in the Middle East which have their sights set on Israel and Jordan," the diplomatic source said. (Ynet News)
  • Israel: Palestinian Prisoners Freed in Shalit Swap Violated Terms of Pardon - Nir Hasson
    Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein issued a request Tuesday to re-incarcerate seven Palestinian prisoners from Jerusalem who were released in the 2011 swap for captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and taken into custody last week. The request states that each one violated his terms of release and must be returned to jail to serve his original sentence.
        "Within the framework of the Shalit deal, hundreds of extremely dangerous prisoners were released whose heavy sentences were shortened in an extraordinary step as a result of Hamas' blackmailing of the state. As such, any breach of their terms of release - whether big or small - will be treated with utmost severity," the state prosecutors wrote. (Ha'aretz)
  • Gaza Rocket Misfires, Kills Palestinian Girl - Matan Tzuri and Yoav Zitun
    Palestinian medical sources reported Tuesday that a three-year-old girl was killed after a rocket fired at Israel landed on a house in Beit Lahia in Gaza. Four members of the girl's family were injured.
        Four rockets were launched at Israeli communities on Tuesday. Two rockets were intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Kidnapped Israeli Teens Compel Scrutiny of Hamas' International Finances - Matthew Levitt
    Israel is targeting not only known Hamas militant operatives, but also the movement's political, social, and financial institutions, seeking to uproot the financial and civilian infrastructure of the movement.
        According to Israeli authorities, the Council for European Palestinian Relations (CEPR), the European NGO's Empowerment Services (ENES), and the European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza (ECESG), an umbrella body of some 30 groups throughout Europe, function as part of an organized Hamas campaign in Europe, employ senior Hamas operatives, and raise significant funds for the organization, which is a banned terrorist entity within the EU. The writer is director of the Program on Counterterrorism & Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (New Republic)
  • Who Is Supporting ISIS? - Abdulrahman al-Rashed
    In the Jordanian city of Ma'an following last Friday's prayers, 20-30 people took to the streets holding banners saluting the terrorist organization of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and announcing that their city supports what they called the state of Islam. Twitter is crowded with people who support and sympathize with ISIS.
        Iraqis in the areas where there's fighting see ISIS as their savior and they haven't yet seen the group's hideous face.
        How popular is ISIS, which is more brutal than al-Qaeda itself? I think it's unlikely that anyone has realized the truth yet, and I fear that ISIS has made it into the hearts and minds of the youth by exploiting sectarian causes and the persecution committed in the Syrian war. (Al Arabiya)
        See also ISIS Is Largely Self-Funded - Hannah Allam (McClatchy)
  • Cooperation with Iran on Iraq Is Foolish and Immoral - Zalman Shoval
    There are voices in Washington who want to join forces with Iran to fight the Sunni Islamists threatening to roll through Baghdad. There is no doubt that ISIS is the sworn enemy of the U.S. and the West. However, the claim that this justifies cooperation with Iran is foolish and immoral. There are no good guys or bad guys here, rather two unequivocally bad sides.
        Iran is striving to acquire nuclear weapons and has threatened to commit genocide; it is a country headed by a regime that is the world's primary exporter of terrorism and whose interests and ambitions are completely contradictory to the interests and hopes of the free world.
        Any warming of relations with the U.S. - and this will be the immediate outcome of American-Iranian synergy - will grant further legitimacy to the ayatollah's regime, strengthen its hand in nuclear negotiations and lead to the permanent deployment of Iranian military forces in Iraq, meaning the "Eastern Front" will draw even nearer to the Jordanian and Israeli borders. The writer is a former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. (Israel Hayom)

ISIS Success in Iraq and Syria: Strategic Ramifications - Kobi Michael and Udi Dekel (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)

  • The takeover of northern and northwest Iraq by ISIS is further evidence of the growing strength of the radical jihadists. The Sunni attack has resulted in the disappearance of the Syrian-Iraqi border and has provided a tailwind for ISIS forces in Syria and strengthened their hold on the country's eastern sector.
  • Captured U.S. weapons, especially anti-tank missiles and armored vehicles, are being moved to Syria. It is only a matter of time before ISIS gears up for an attack on southern Syria and the capital city of Damascus.
  • Jordan is confronting a growing number of cells of jihadist organizations infiltrating the state under the guise of refugees and through assistance and supply channels to the rebels in Syria. Jordan needs a clear strategic military ally. Although it cannot admit it openly, its only such ally is apparently Israel.
  • What is needed now is a joint U.S.-European effort (with low-profile Israeli involvement) to strengthen Jordan both economically and militarily.
  • Israel must continue to prepare for a scenario in which recent events spill over its borders. As such, it will have to prevent the penetration of influence by Islamist-jihadist elements.
  • The time may have come to prepare conceptually as well as practically for the formation of a new organizing principle of the Syrian-Iraqi region, whose main point would be the dissolution of existing nation states and the establishment of ethnic nations: Alawite in western Syria, Kurdish in northern Iraq and Syria, a Sunni nation in northwest Iraq and northeast Syria, and a Shiite state in central and southern Iraq.

    Kobi Michael served as deputy director and head of the Palestinian desk at the Israel Ministry for Strategic Affairs. Brig. Gen. (ret.) Udi Dekel served as head of the IDF Strategic Planning Division.

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