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04 August 2016


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michael brenner

At the risk of being labelled an inveterate contrarian (or worse), I'd like to offer a different perspective from the NY Times article.

First, there appears a striking disparity between the supposed resources and organization devoted by ISIS to sowing mayhem in the West and what actually has occurred.

In the US: Boston, Ft Hood and Orlando did not involve ISIS; California - we still don't know; no serious plot of any origin foiled.

U.K.: The Underground bombings - 11 years ago (pre-ISIS). Same for Spain. No serious plot capable of producing mass casualties foiled (i.e. beyond pub chatter and pamphlets scattered around an apartment).

Germany: Recent incidents that appear ISIS connected although organizational links hazy.

Belgium: definite connection
France: definite connection in Paris attacks; Nice remains hazy beyond speculation. In the French and Belgian cases, organization and direction from ISIS Central seems to have been loose - if it existed at all in Nice case.

This is not an "End of Civilization" scenario by any means. For the sake of perspective, let's consider any significant number of SST correspondents getting together to engage in terrorism - here or abroad. With an absolute minimum or organization and direction, they could create damage many, many multiples of what we have experienced over the years.

As ISIS fades, so will its allure. That will result in fewer terrorist incidents - whether organized and directed from Raqqa or not.


"As ISIS fades, so will its allure. That will result in fewer terrorist incidents - whether organized and directed from Raqqa or not."

I'm inclined to agree. If ISIS commanders regard their organization as fading, wouldn't we expect to see these networks attacking with greater frequency now? We know they can play the long game, but I agree with Brenner in thinking that would risk cadre disillusionment. But this leads to the question of how they are reading the current situation. Are they interested in influencing the US election? If so, in whose favor? Wouldn't they want to increase pressures making for an EU breakup?


"As ISIS fades, so will its allure."

I get an unsaid feeling (surprisingly from the MSM) that given the hard choice many, in Europe and even in the US, would rather convert/submit to Islam then fight.

There's a malaise or purposelessness regarding the whole conflict on our end, at least on the surface level.

David Habakkuk


I would however note that Michael D. Weiss is a leading ‘borgist’ propagandist.

A piece by ‘b’ from January 2012 deals with his links to the ‘Henry Jackson Society’, the principal organisation of the ‘neocons’ in Britain.

(See http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/01/neocon-israel-mouthpiece-writes-syrian-opposition-policy-paper.html .)

There is a great deal of other material on the net.

Among the signatories of the ‘Statement of Principles’ of the Society – in itself a moronic document – was the former MI6 head, Sir Richard Dearlove.

(See http://henryjacksonsociety.org/about-the-society/signatories-to-the-statement-of-principles/ )

One of the things about ‘Scoop’ Jackson is that he managed to get almost everything wrong.

So to have Dearlove signing the ‘Statement’ is a bit as though a former head of Scotland Yard was a signatory of the ‘Statement of Principles’ of a ‘Jacques Clouseau Society’.

And, if you think I am surrendering to the temptation to make bad jokes, read this account from July 2014 by Patrick Cockburn of what Dearlove had to say about what Prince Bandar had told him.

An extract:

‘Dearlove's explosive revelation about the prediction of a day of reckoning for the Shia by Prince Bandar, and the former head of MI6’s view that Saudi Arabia is involved in the Isis-led Sunni rebellion, has attracted surprisingly little attention. Coverage of Dearlove's speech focused instead on his main theme that the threat from Isis to the West is being exaggerated because, unlike Bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida, it is absorbed in a new conflict that “is essentially Muslim on Muslim”. Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.’

(See http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/iraq-crisis-how-saudi-arabia-helped-isis-take-over-the-north-of-the-country-9602312.html .)

Of course, as the Colonel has repeatedly told us, one needs to look at the intelligence and the provider of it separately.

But one should bear in mind that Michael D. Weiss, like Dearlove, is a very dodgy character indeed. (If he told me the time, I would ask for at least two independent witnesses.)

The Twisted Genius

michael brenner and hemeantwell,

The eventual destruction of the physical caliphate will put a kink in the tail of IS. Obviously, I'm all for that. However, IS as a clandestine terrorist organization will remain quite capable and dangerous. A shadowy clandestine organization will have its own allure, at least as powerful as the physical caliphate. Think of it as Plan B. This new IS method of operation is new, only two to three years old. It takes a while to create a credible clandestine organization, especially when the world's counter-terrorist forces are gunning for you. I firmly believe we should put as much effort into destroying this clandestine IS capability as we should into destroying the physical caliphate.

The Twisted Genius

David Habakkuk,

Thanks for the heads up on Weiss. Don't worry. I don't want to date him, just read his series on IS. ; )

rakesh wahi

I think this will clear out once ISIS is out of Raqqa and Mosul.

Babak Makkinejad

The comments about Shia were understood by Shia in the following countries: Iran, Azerbaijan Republic, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.


A couple of major networks chose to highlight, in addition to the "clean men" network of contacts and arms suppliers, a segment of the interview, in which the ISIS prisoner proclaimed that the U.S. was easy for recruiting and arming recruits, because of its "stupid" open social media and its gun laws. ISIS did not even have to provide arms, because recruits can easily arm themselves.

Hearing this sent up a red flag for me. First glaring question, which neither of these news propagators raised, follows Michael Brenner's observation above. If it is so easy, what accounts for the lack of ISIS attacks in the U.S.? And second, what a convenient segue for the likes of Rachel Maddow and a whole eastern establishment to raise the cry, again, for more restrictive gun laws.

Callimachi's reporting may be very good. But one wonders how she found her sources. Isn't it possible that, in some cases, invisible hands were steering?


How much does it cost to run an organization like this? Assume IS is gone as a physical presence in Syria and Iraq in 2 years. Would they still be able to maintain the funding to run an organization like this? Alternatively, assume IS falls apart with its loss of territory. Who assumes the mantle of leadership among the jihadists? Is it AQ again or is there some new group waiting in the wings? I don't see the movement going away entirely.


michael brenner

What aspect of ISIS is not clandestine? I offer this not as a smart=aleck question but simply as a reminder that there is a constant risk of exaggerating the capabilities of shadowy groups for the very reason that they are opaque. Without experience of the Intelligence world, I cannot offer an opinion on whether 2 -3 years is a short period of not. I will suggest, though, that bunch of fanatics constantly shuffling from one hidden site in Raqqato another has built-in limitations that the Bolsheviks ensconced in the Kremlin did not have. As far as I am aware, we have absolutely no evidence that ISIS has the capability to plan a 9/11 - or anything remotely like it - as al-Qaida did under far more adverse circumstances. The enduring after-life of ISIL will be manifest in the Middle East - especially the fractured societies of Syria and Iraq. Washington presumes to have high stakes in both places; yet, there is no evidence of any serious thinking about either a reassessment of the threat or how to cope with it - other than following the fanciful "narrative."


TTG and others with the relevant expertise,
Why is this any different a feature than that employed by terror networks of past? ie FARC and PIRA collaboration ? Or ETA and Colombians/South American Marxist groups ?
Do IC 's not do opfor research or whatever the correct term would be ? To my layman eyes, it looks like we lack a lot of imagination on what "they" can do next .
Pardon my ignorance....


In a nutshell what I'm trying to say is we seem very reactive then shoring up. That seems very resource heavy and may not be sustainable.

The Twisted Genius

michael brenner,

The IS military operations we see every day in Syria and Iraq are not clandestine. Yes, they employ surprise, deception and concealment, but all military forces do this on the battlefield. Their actions are subject to both enemy observation and observation by civilians in the area. There is nothing clandestine about a convoy of jihadi laden technicals barreling down a highway. Those conducting a clandestine operation, on the other hand, seek to remain invisible to all, even to those who they rub elbows with on a daily basis. To operate like this securely, you have to move slowly and deliberately. Time is likely measured in months.

The Twisted Genius


There's nothing ignorant about your question/observation. This is no different from those older terrorist networks. There is a reason that clandestine intelligence collection is known as the second oldest profession.

Perhaps the IC has been too busy or distracted by the bigger IS effort to establish an overt caliphate to catch the IS effort to develop a worldwide clandestine terrorist network. Of course, it's the nature of a clandestine organization to be difficult to discover. Or, as you said, there may be a lack of imagination within the IC.

The Twisted Genius


It would be far cheaper than running and defending a caliphate.

The Twisted Genius


I would imagine recruiting somebody to conduct a suicide mission using only social media is a difficult task. I doubt that IS dude who claimed it was easy knew what he was talking about.

Callimachi's big breakthrough occurred while she was an AP reporter in west Africa. While in Timbuktu after the fighting there died down, she noticed a lot of papers left by the AQIM fighters. She filled plastic garbage bags full of the documents and worked with a translator to understand the organization using these original source documents. I don't think she's easily led astray.

michael brenner

I meant that their leadership, plans and modes of organization are clandestine. What we see on the battlefield, of course, is by definition visible and comprehensible in their tangible manifestations. Speculation about clandestine networks, though, gains free rein because what we see (occasional. small scale terrorist acts) cannot in itself be taken as evidence of what the article postulates.

Let's also remember the reams of paper that we allegedly found in OBL's house in Abbottabad - as well as other so-called troves periodically turned up in Iraq and Afghanistan over 15 years. One, they had plans on paper for everything - including seizing nuclear power plants, which had no operational meaning whatsoever. Two, ACM's Timbuktu reams of plans notwithstanding, there has been no significant terrorist act in their region of operation (nor one uncovered and foiled) since they were kicked out by the French. The Algerian power plant assault has not been repeated. Three, they had no relationship of note with ISIL in 2013 and, therefore, any connection to the grand schemes and organization outlined in the NY Times article could only have been either extremely tenuous or fanciful at the time. Or, do we facilely presume that al-Qaeda and ISIS are fungible?



Thanks. This is information that we need but is very scarce.

The West doesn’t acknowledge that the Jihadists are serving as their proxy force to sow chaos in Eurasia. 25 years of bombing and the spreading wars are forcing Muslim societies to return to their fundamental roots for meaning and safety. The globalists treat people as a uniform commodity to be freely moved about and exploited. The chaos is now in Turkey and heading towards the heartland. Behind the lines, Lone Wolf attacks are recruited in person or online.

But, actually, it is the West's neo-ideology of constant wars, plunder and open immigration that are causing the crumbling of civilization. Peace treaties, alliances of sovereign states, secure borders and development would end the chaos.

The Twisted Genius

michael brenner,

I wouldn't describe their leadership, plans and modes of organization as clandestine. They employ a robust regime of state secrecy and non-transparency, but so do most modern state governments. I wouldn't consider our government to be clandestine. The article only addresses one organization within the IS, al-Adnani’s Emni organization. Perhaps the overly dramatic title leads you to believe that the article postulates the emergence of a omnipresent SPECTRE-like terrorist organization. I don't get the impression that Rukmini Callimachi is trying to make that case. On the other hand, the number of terrorist attacks attributed to or claimed by IS have steadily increased since 2014, although none in west Africa. Recent attacks in this region (Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria and Cameroon this year) were the work of AQIM, al Mourabitoun and Boko Haram.

Speaking of the reams of documents captured over the years, the SDF/YPG forces captured more than 10,000 documents and 4.5 terabytes of data when they overran the Is headquarters in Manbij. Since Manbij was the major entry point and training area for foreign fighters flocking to IS, these documents should provide a more detailed view of Emni organization and operations. Whether we'll ever get to see this is another story.

The Virginian

Insights into how Daesh has developed intelligence collection, counter-intelligence and special operations groups are of interest and can assist in efforts to mitigate the threat posed, as does knowledge of points of interface with organized crime, smugglers, government-linked supporters, diasporas, etc. However, it should be noted that the development of such specialties - including recruitment for martyrdom operations - is not unique. Terrorist / insurgent / militant organizations of various stripes have developed and used such capabilities; some that come to mind are the IRA (and its various factions), the Baader-Meinhof Gang, Fatah, the FARC, Hamas, Hezbollah, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), the Taliban, Lashkar-e Tayyiba, and Al-Qaeda (including its regional / country-specific offshoots). The targeted recruitment for martyrdom operations has been seen with Hezbollah, the LTTE, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and others. AQ, like now with Daesh, has developed compartmentalized structures that aim to recruit, train then deploy Western jehadis back into their homes of origin to both conduct attacks and identify / recruit / train / motivate pre-existing groups and individuals to themselves conduct attacks, or provide safe haven / support to others. The integration of former Iraqi Baathists with a background in Saddam's security architecture would certainly further enable things, as does the role of other States in developing (or in some cases providing) intelligence capabilities for such groups (ex. Pakistan's ISI).

David Habakkuk

Babak Makkinejad,

Of course Shia, in Iran and elsewhere, have noticed what Bandar said.

However, it would also behove them – and particular Iranians – to grasp the significance of Cockburn’s article.

A figure to whose writings Brigadier Ali has referred us several times is the former MI6 operative Alastair Crooke.

In two articles in August-September 2014, Crooke traced the long history of the ‘devil’s pact’ which the British made with the Saudis, going back to the First World War, and how this was taken over by the Americans.

(See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/isis-aim-saudi-arabia_b_5748744.html .)

The implicit premise of this, all long, as he noted, was that Wahhabist fanatics could be used in support of common foreign policy agendas we had with the Saudis, without risk of catastrophic ‘blowback’ against ourselves.

My strong suspicion is that what one sees surfacing in Crooke’s writings are arguments within British intelligence which go back to the war in Afghanistan in the ‘Eighties. On this, see his ‘WikiSpooks’ entry at https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Alistair_Crooke .

On the dangers of supping with the Sunni jihadist ‘devil’ without enough of a ‘long spoon’, Crooke and those who think like him have been proven right, in a way that public opinion in Europe cannot but notice.

To my mind, a key paragraph in the Michael Weiss articles is the following:

‘Abu Khaled felt compelled to sign up because he believed America was an accomplice to global conspiracy, led by Iran and Russia, to keep the tyrant Bashar al-Assad in power. How else could it be explained that the U.S. was waging war only against Sunnis, and leaving an Alawite-run regime guilty of mass murder by almost every means and its Iranian Shia armies untouched?’

Whatever the accuracy or otherwise of the claims made, the pieces by Weiss look to me like an attempt at ‘damage limitation’ – acknowledging the dangers from Sunni terrorism, while presenting them in a way designed to rule out the natural conclusion that in this fight we have a common interest with the Russians, the Syrian Government, and the Islamic Republic.

There is here a fundamental battle over alignments which is ‘shaping’ up.

It is of interest also that Michael D. Weiss is Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Interpreter’, which was originally a project of the ‘Institute of Modern Russia’, behind whose foundation were Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his son Pavel. As of January it is ‘funded and presented by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.’

(See http://www.interpretermag.com/about-us/ .)

Currently, the problem for the ‘borgistas’, both in Europe and the United States, is to accommodate the fact that they have been proven disastrously wrong about the risks of cooperating with Sunni jihadists in such a manner as to rescue a ‘narrative’ in which Iran and Russia are the principal enemies.

But this ‘narrative’ is increasingly fragile.



"The West doesn’t acknowledge that the Jihadists are serving as their proxy force to sow chaos in Eurasia"

So "the West" is responsible for ISIS?


Somehow the Callimachi piece is like a big mac - you can incorporate it in few bites without getting any differentiated taste. If you start to think about it in a larger context, it simply does not fit and develops the smell of a red herring.
"The fact that they cannot find a direct link to ISIS may well be by design" - but it may well be simply the fact of no such link. The stakes are extremely high, so there would be very good reasons for escalating a strategy of tension aka Gladio 2.0. Scaring the shit out of Joe Sixpack paid very well in the U.S., so giving such treatment to Europe should work as well. Make them unconditionally joining the empire's corral, and developing some genuine Israeli feeling. That should be enough to get them volunteering for the frontline (where they already are anyway), and making them fight for their handlers.



I'd like the funding and all of the training of these hoards addressed.

WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton Served On Board Of Company With ISIS Ties
The fact a private Western company has allegedly had dealings with ISIS is not the only worrying factor in this story.


The Enemy Of My Friend Is My Friend: Israel Accepts Billions From The US, But Maintains Ties With Al-Nusra


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