Upsetment
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Russia accuses U.S. of pretending to fight Islamic State in Syria, Iraq

Russia accuses U.S. of pretending to fight Islamic State in Syria, Iraq | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Russia accused the United States on Tuesday of pretending to fight Islamic State and of deliberately reducing its air strikes in Iraq to allow the group's militants to stream into Syria to slow the Russian-backed advance of the Syrian army.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
It would make great sense for the US to allow members of ISIS to escape from Iraq into Syria where they would add pressure on the Russians and their client Assad. However, it would also be one of most foolish ways to push yet another wedge between Washington and Moscow. Hopefully, ISIS will soon be defeated, but there will remain more than enough terrorists and crazed jihadists to go around and all governments will have to work together if terrorism is to be contained. Besides, isn't it time for America to give up its obsession with regime change in Syria or anywhere. That has been the biggest mistake in our foreign policy ever. Of course, there are times when humanitarian or possibly security concerns should take precedence in dealing with another country, but mostly I think we're better off just letting the world be no matter how much we dislike what others may do. We are no longer the city on the hill. Sadly, often America seems more like the shantytown in the holler.

If you like to read about the idealized America, you might read Broody New Englander. If you want more realistic views of how we function, check out Times to Try the Soul of Man, Widow's Walk, Memoirs From the Asylum, and Tales From the Dew Drop Inne. All of which you can sample on my website: http://www.kennethweene.com  

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Joint Taliban-ISIS Attack Kills Dozens, Afghan Officials Say

Joint Taliban-ISIS Attack Kills Dozens, Afghan Officials Say | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Officials said as many as 50 people died when the Taliban and a commander claiming ties to the Islamic State overran an area in the north. A Taliban spokesman denied any cooperation with ISIS.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
As ISIS, which is now called IS because it has expanded geographically even as it shrinks militarily, expands its presence in Afghanistan, the one place where it has a boots on the ground ally that might win, namely the Taliban, it may well fall on Iran, which is also a natural ally of the Taliban, to keep that from happening. 

Confused? Remember that Iran is Shia and IS and the Taliban militantly Sunni. On the other hand, Iran wants the US out of its neighbor and doesn't want the mineral wealth that may lie under Afghanistan ending up in either American or Chinese hands. Tehran also doesn't want a strong IS presence anywhere, but especially not on her border. 

In the end, no matter what the US does, the Taliban is going to win in Afghanistan. Why? Because they are a religious-nationalist movement with a base of fanatics who are willing to die. Better to have their views moderated by Iran, even though its policies are Islamic theocratic, than the extreme and crazy views of IS. Of course, for years, I've been saying that the real issue is creating a Pashtun state. Yes, it will have some mineral wealth and yes it will now end up religiously extreme, but at least its leaders might then not see us as the worst of demons. As is, we are just fighting a stupid war because we don't know how the world works anymore. 
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As Trump Prepared For Riyadh Visit, Saudis Block US On Terrorist Sanctions

As Trump Prepared For Riyadh Visit, Saudis Block US On Terrorist Sanctions | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich kingdom touted by President Donald Trump as a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State, has helped block a Trump administration proposal to impose sanctions against a Saudi branch of the terrorist group, documents show.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Here's the thing, is it wise to enter into security deals with a country that is more concerned about its reputation than about reality?

"Acceding to the U.S. proposal could have resulted in "reputational risks" for the kingdom, possibly including losses in tourist revenue and higher insurance premiums, the official said."

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is the center of the Arab and to some degree the Muslim world. It was the homeland of the 9/11 attackers and is still the home of some of the most extreme Islamic ideas. 

No, I don't want to overthrow the monarchy there, but I'm not so sure we should consider them our allies. So far, the Saudi offers to take part in a war on terror have mostly been about bombing people in Yemen who are pro-Iran. 


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Russia’s General Staff blasts US-led coalition for destroying Syrian infrastructure

Russia’s General Staff blasts US-led coalition for destroying Syrian infrastructure | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The Russian General Staff says the coalition delivers strikes on the quarters of Iraq’s Mosul where thousands of civilians stay besides the Islamic State’s militants
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Not surprisingly, Tass has a very different view of what is going on on the battlefield than our American sources. They speak of both the success of their efforts in Syria and the failure of the coalition in Iraq and in Syria, but more importantly, they speak to the destructiveness of the American approach of bombing infrastructure like that near Raqqa, Syria. Since we never hear from the US military about such attacks on bridges, dams, and the like, I wonder whether we have taken to creating such damage and if so what the consequences will be for the people of Syria and Iraq and particularly cities like Raqqa and Mosul in Iraq once ISIS is driven back. Saddam had predicted the chaos that would follow his overthrow, and so far he has certainly been right. What he didn't perhaps realize was that it would bring out the worst thinking in America and perhaps the most strategic in Russia.
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ISIL expands in Afghan-Pakistan areas, widening attacks

ISIL expands in Afghan-Pakistan areas, widening attacks | Upsetment | Scoop.it
ISIL expansion poses new challenge for US President Donald Trump, as he vowed to "totally destroy" the rebel group.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The combination of Islamic militancy and increasing tribal identification make western Pakistan and Afghanistan ever more dangerous for American involvement and for the existence of the national governments in Kabul and Islamabad. More than ever, I support the idea of creating a Pashto state and another smaller state for the Afghan minorities. IMO, only when the Pashto are recognized as a people can the rest of us hope to end the endless militancy and fighting in that region. For one thing, once there is a Pashto nation, my guess is that the militants from Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the like will find themselves unwelcome. I wonder what you think. 
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ISIS Destroys One Of The Most Famous Monuments In Ancient Syrian City Of Palmyra

ISIS Destroys One Of The Most Famous Monuments In Ancient Syrian City Of Palmyra | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The destruction took place sometime between Dec. 26 and Jan. 10.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Few things are more horrifying to me than such disregard for human history. We do not have to agree with a culture to respect its accomplishments. Were an opposing army to do this to Mecca the outrage from these barbarians of ISIS would be horrific not only to hear but to witness in their revenge. I don't propose attacking Mecca or anything that would harm or offend the many, many millions of decent Muslims in the world, but I would assuredly start thinking about annihilation of ISIS not just their defeat. One good thing in this report, Russia is now wearing the same egg on the face that the rest of the West has sported in dealing with this band of savages. Now, if we could all agree on one major combined effort to wipe out this scourge the same way that the allies approached the Nazi hordes almost 75 years ago. 
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The Islamic State has been a catastrophe for Sunnis

The Islamic State has been a catastrophe for Sunnis | Upsetment | Scoop.it
ISIS has been a catastrophe for Sunnis in Iraq and Syria
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Call it the war against ISIS, ISIL, or DAESH, in the end like all wars it is leaving too many hapless and overwhelmed in its wake. What is the future of Iraq and particularly of its large Sunni minority? At least so far, the Shiite and Kurdish troops have not embraced the goal of genocide, but the state of things is horrific. Can we hope that the central government of Iraq will find a new way to organize the people of that land so that the various groups and tribes that make up its population can live together and prosper? 
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The Salvation of Sinners and the Suicide Bomb

The Salvation of Sinners and the Suicide Bomb | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The Salvation of Sinners and the Suicide Bomb « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Finally, another writer gets it. The suicide bomber is seeking redemption. Guilt is a terrible thing to waste, and ISIS has figured out how to use it perfectly. Of course, if you're read my posts over the years, you know I've been saying this all along. 
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‘We are desperate’: Iraqis flee Fallujah, only to find another nightmare

‘We are desperate’: Iraqis flee Fallujah, only to find another nightmare | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Over 85,000 have fled, with more expected to follow, as forces battle the Islamic State for the city.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
If the United States and Western Europe want to create more jihadist groups in Iraq, this is the way to do it. By underfunding and under-supplying assistance to those displaced by the fight against ISIS, we create new cadres of dispossessed and angry refugees looking for an answer from Allah rather than believing in their fellow humans. Hell, maybe believing in a fictitious god is better than believing in humanity. 
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The World Reaps What the Saudis Sow

The World Reaps What the Saudis Sow | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Saudi Arabia has spent heavily to promote the radical form of Islam that inspired 9/11 and now inflames the Islamic State. Tiny Kosovo is a victim.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
There is one thing missing in this otherwise excellent editorial from the New York Times. It is disingenuous to claim that we don't know why the extreme Islamic views emanating from Saudi Arabia have gone unchecked. The oil industry has pushed for the preeminence of the Saudis in our foreign policy, and the American foreign policy error which that same industry helped to create in Iran has hampered the natural competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia, a competition that might have kept the Saudis in check. So, while George W. Bush walked hand in hand with the Saudis, literally, and while we rushed to fight their war with Iraq under George H.W. (Kuwait was in fact the first step in Iraq's trying to take over the peninsula.), American policy was to ignore the growing worldwide threat of a particular and peculiar form of Islam. Now, in countries all over the world the marginalized young are finding a cause, the creation of a caliphate that will usher in the era of Islamic dominance. 
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Exclusive: Samples confirm Islamic State used mustard gas in Iraq - diplomat

Exclusive: Samples confirm Islamic State used mustard gas in Iraq - diplomat | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Islamic State militants attacked Kurdish forces in Iraq with mustard gas last year, in the first known use of chemical weapons in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, a diplomat said, after tests by the global chemical arms watchdog.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Is there some reason why anyone would expect a rogue terrorist group to follow the humanitarian rules of International Law? This is sad evidence that there is no possible peace with the Islamic State. That is the problem with religiously driven war, it has no reasonable conclusion. 

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Putin ‘Seducing’ Iraq’s Tribes

Putin ‘Seducing’ Iraq’s Tribes | Upsetment | Scoop.it
‘Russia is serious in fighting terrorism,’ one sheikh tells The Daily Beast, ‘unlike the U.S.’
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Of course, the U.S. having created a regime has no capacity to recognize that the regime it has created is a farce and a failure. Just as in Afghanistan, the American intelligence community reveals its total lack of intelligence. Russia on the other hand wants Iraq to splinter. If he can build a coalition of Sunni tribes, they will give him credibility among the Muslims of Russia who don't want ISIS and it will give him a strong ally against Iran. Putin has no commitment to Iraq as a country. By the way, does anybody remember that many, including Joe Biden and myself were saying that Iraq should break into three cohesive parts? I still think that's the way to go. 

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Don’t Give ISIS What It Wants

Don’t Give ISIS What It Wants | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Ensure that cooler heads prevail after an attack, resist the urge for retribution, and other ways to make sure the terrorists don’t win.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

This is an excellent analysis of the issues. I would add that ISIS is counting on an anti-Muslim reaction, especially in Europe, to solidify their position as a legitimate expression of Islamic necessity among the vast numbers of Muslims who now view them with trepidation or even downright horror. Also, would-be prophets always require a struggle to legitimize themselves. That is why, for example, the Egypt myth is so integral a part to the formation of Judaism and Peter and Paul's stories to Christianity. Of course Muhammad fought his own war. So the massive military campaign that must be waged will make ISIS stronger for the short term.

Next, and I think this crucial to the nature of modern Islam is the relative unavailability of redemption within the faith. Unlike Christianity which offers contrition as a path to salvation or Judaism which simply accepts that following the faith's rituals and rules will lead to being written into the book of life for another year, Islam offers only the death of a martyr as a path to redeeming oneself after apostasy. Add that to the frustration that many young Muslims feel as their economic and social expectations are blocked by the world's inequities and the resulting sense of failure and attendant guilt and we have the makings of a terrorist, determined to redeem him/herself in the eyes of Allah.

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U.S. Military: American Fighting for ISIS ‘Surrenders’

U.S. Military: American Fighting for ISIS ‘Surrenders’ | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The U.S. citizen fighting for ISIS was captured in Syria, a well-placed source told The Beast. It’ll be a crucial test for the Trump administration on handling wartime detentions.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The capture of an American citizen who has been fighting for ISIS raises some serious questions about policy for an administration that has been rather short on details or even coherent broad positions. First, has the man actually broken US law? If he has not engaged in any actions against Americans and has been fighting in what amounts to a civil war, hmm? Consider those Americans who have fought for say the Lincoln Brigade in Spain or maybe those who volunteered in WW2 before the US was directly involved. How about those CIA provided fighters in Central America and Afghanistan? Second, while it is the military that's involved with ISIS, does that remove the right to proper criminal trials? If somebody is in the process of being an enemy combatant, perhaps it is justified for the military to kill them, but once they are captured? These are not easy questions. 

Sticking them away in Guantanamo and maybe adding a bit of torture does sound inviting as an easy solution. However, I believe that that due process and criminal trial are the only way to go. First, if the trial is done properly, it might actually get the realities across to people, both those of the price of being a terrorist but also the reasons that people might make that choice. Second, it affirms our nation as a country of law, although honestly that hasn't always been the case. Third, it focuses us as a nation on what proper criminal law should look like. I would only ask that such a trial be public, transparent, and that there be meaningful discussion of issues not just technicalities of law. 

Meanwhile, if you want to consider the nastiness of the world that produces terrorism, might I suggest you read Times To Try the Soul of Man. 
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U.S. eyes arms for YPG fighters in Syria even after Raqqa's fall

U.S. eyes arms for YPG fighters in Syria even after Raqqa's fall | Upsetment | Scoop.it
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday left open the possibility of longer-term assistance to Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, saying the U.S. may need to supply them weapons and equipment even after the capture of Raqqa from Islamic State.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Much as I admire the Kurds and appreciate their efforts against ISIS and support the cause of an independent Kurdish nation, I'm not sure that the US should be getting into the middle of their fight, especially when it means alienating Turkey and potentially causing more upheaval in the Middle East to say nothing of how it will affect the tensions between Washington and Moscow. The world is complicated and I have to wonder if anybody at the State Department is thinking about the long-range. 
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More US troops may be needed to fight ISIS, commander says

More US troops may be needed to fight ISIS, commander says | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The US general commanding the coalition fight against ISIS expects the fight for its de-facto capital to have hit the city center by this summer, and in an exclusive interview with CNN, he held out the possibility that more US troops may be needed for that tougher fight.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Do we really want to send more troops to the Middle East? Is this really good for America or the world? Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, both Iran and Russia are now making nice with the Taliban. Somehow, that doesn't bode well for America either. And all this because we couldn't keep out of other countries, not Afghanistan starting with Carter and then going big time during Reagan's administration, or Iraq, especially under the second Bush. (And, let's not forget Libya under Obama) Intervention in the internal affairs of other countries is not a good way to go. In the end it drains a nation's coffers and manpower and leaves enmity behind. Military action should be the last option after all else has failed. When military actions is absolutely necessary, it should be done with others, have limited goals, and above all have a clear end game. Our attempts to destabilize Assad have obviously done more harm than good in Syria. Now, when we may actually have to go in and defeat ISIS, we lack good working relationships with Assad, Russia, and Iran and limited relationship with Turkey. The Kurds are our only good ally in that fight, and they have their own very clear set of goals that will in the end put us into conflict with Turkey. Great work, Washington. Oh, when was the last time the military didn't think they could win something if given just more men and equipment? (Where is the sarcasm font when I need it?)
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Iran says Russia can use its military bases 'on case by case basis'

Iran says Russia can use its military bases 'on case by case basis' | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Reuters on Tuesday that Russia could use Iranian military bases to launch air strikes against militants in Syria on a "case by case basis."
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Iran has developed a very intelligent way to deal with Russia. Pragmatic with clear goals to be won for both. While the US blusters and over-commits, this is how coalitions actually work. Of course, Tehran is dealing with the Russian Bear, and that's always a bit dangerous, bit at least they have the right idea how to do it. I think we're going to see Russia doing a lot of this kind of dealing with other Middle Eastern countries. Besides shoring up Moscow's connection with the Muslim world and helping to cut off ISIS with its connections to Russia's own vast Islamic population, this will give Russia opportunities to develop business ties with those countries. On the other side, besides beating ISIS, which many Muslim countries both Sunni and Shia want to do, this gives them clout to bring to bear against their own dissidents and those on their borders. Russia is now seen as a reliable ally even to those who don't like Assad. The US on the other hand is seen as very unreliable. Sorry, America, but Washington is losing the diplomatic war. Just one more way we have stopped being number one. 
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Will Raqqa be site for clash of titan generals?

Will Raqqa be site for clash of titan generals? | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Two admired military heroes of Iran and Turkey, both commanding elite military units in Iraq and Syria, could wind up confronting each other in northern Syria.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Will Syria bring the Shiite—Sunni conflict to its head? Even on the same side, the two branches of Islam are at odds and two military leaders are primed to face off. The defeat of ISIS could be the beginning of something very bad. When I hear talk of American boots being on the ground in Styria, all I can do is shudder. 
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Islamic State warning to Erdogan shows soldiers burned alive - The Boston Globe

Islamic State warning to Erdogan shows soldiers burned alive - The Boston Globe | Upsetment | Scoop.it
The Islamic State released a video showing two Turkish soldiers chained and then burned to death by Turkish-speaking jihadists, prompting Turkey’s government to block Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
The video was released by news websites close to the Islamic State, and the two victims identify themselves as Turkish soldiers taken hostage.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
In this new age of asymmetrical warfare, by what rules should nations play? As ISIS (ISIL) sinks into barbarism, should governments such as Turkey head in the same direction? When the outlaw drives trucks into marketplaces filled with innocent shoppers, should the European (and American) militaries stop considering collateral damage and just go for the kill? Increasingly, this has become a question that gnaws at me. Philosophically, I cannot give up the notion that we should nay, must—strive for the highest spirit of mankind. But, in my gut I want to burn the fuckers, to wipe them off the face of the earth. In the end, that is the worst part of terror, that it brings out the terrorist in us all. Perhaps even worse, it makes us want to hole-up in fortresses, like the fortress America that Mr. Trump espouses. In the end, we become no better than animals defending our territories and fighting one another to the death. 

That terrorism is most typically justified in the name of some god or some principle of social justice doesn't make it any the better. In the end, the person who hurls the bomb into the crowd is trying to bring out the worst of us all. Every government should join together in fighting terror even that which serves their own ends because in the end, it is all humanity that suffers from such asymmetrical aggression. 

With that, I wish us all in this time of religious renewal to remember that mankind can reach for the heavens or dig our way into the pit. That choice is up to us all. 
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The FBI Accused Him of Terrorism. He Couldn't Tie His Shoes.

The FBI Accused Him of Terrorism. He Couldn't Tie His Shoes. | Upsetment | Scoop.it
Why would ISIS recruit an autistic teenager from Alabama?
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The mentally challenged are most vulnerable to the idea that some god or god-driven group will set them free from their pain, and make no mistake living as a special needs kid is painful. Could they strap a bomb around this kid and get him to blow himself and others up? Probably. That makes this one of the saddest stories I've read in weeks. 
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U.S. jets abandoned Syrian rebels in the desert. Then they lost a battle to ISIS.

U.S. jets abandoned Syrian rebels in the desert. Then they lost a battle to ISIS. | Upsetment | Scoop.it
"The priority here appeared to be going after the target, going after the big shiny object."
Kenneth Weene's insight:
While I have to be encouraged that a large convoy from ISIS was destroyed, I cannot help but wonder at what point the failure to support local allies in the battle against the Islamic State will generate another enemy. The US government is too often engaged in deciding which group is "expendable." but that has long been a policy of American military planners, especially when non-white troops are involved. Consider the Black troops at the Battle of the Crater and both the Lost Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment (The Go For Broke Japanese American unit) being sent against impossible odds to resume them during World War 2. Consider too the many Vietnamese who were left to die when we pulled out and the Filipino family members who were never allowed to come to the US. Do we think that the world doesn't get it? This is not a country that values people of color. This is not a country that keeps its commitments well. 
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After more than $1.6 billion in U.S. aid, Iraq’s army still struggles

After more than $1.6 billion in U.S. aid, Iraq’s army still struggles | Upsetment | Scoop.it
To one respected commander, the fight against ISIS felt like a suicide mission.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
The debacle that is Iraq, the horror that is ISIS: these are the legacies of the Bush-Cheney administration and are the reason that we should never again allow the neocon hawks a say in foreign policy. You cannot successfully remake the world simply because you have bigger bombs; or to put it in terms that Americans might better understand, having a big dick doesn't make you right or even give you good judgment. Even if we are gradually winning the battle against ISIS, the entire Iraq adventure has been a true "folly in history".
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US and Syria's Kurds: Love on the rocks? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East

US and Syria's Kurds: Love on the rocks? - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East | Upsetment | Scoop.it
PKK violence is complicating US relations with Syria’s Kurds just as Turkey steps up its cooperation against the Islamic State.
Kenneth Weene's insight:
Are the Kurds the heroes or the villains of the Middle East? Obviously, they are neither, But they are a group demanding a national identity instead of their enforced dispersal across four countries, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. In the end, no matter how heroically they fight against ISIS, they will become a threat to those four countries as they strive for that national identity. Rejection of that desire will result in ongoing civil wars, but acceptance of it requires the support of the four nations that are currently in place to make room for a fifth. Will that happen? Doubtful.. Will the Kurdish people stop their struggle for a homeland? No way. This is a dilemma that American foreign policy needs to address now. It is certainly one question I hope that the presidential candidates will be asked during the campaign.
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ISIS burns fighters alive for letting Ramadi fall | Fox News

ISIS burns fighters alive for letting Ramadi fall | Fox News | Upsetment | Scoop.it
ISIS fighters who fled to the terror group’s Iraqi stronghold of Mosul after being defeated in Ramadi were burned alive in the town square, sources told FoxNews.com, in an unmistakable message to fighters who may soon be defending the northern city from government forces.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Given the source, Fox, I have to wonder about this; but if it is true, consider what a great recruiting incentive this is for ISIS — NOT! But int goes to two things about the underlying theology. One, death is good if one dies in the name of Allah. Two, there is no redemption from guilt except dying in the name of Allah. I hope this story gets good play in England and other places where there are still willing fools ready to fight for the "new caliphate." 

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The Islamic State creates a new type of jihadist: Part terrorist, part gangster

The Islamic State creates a new type of jihadist: Part terrorist, part gangster | Upsetment | Scoop.it
European followers of ISIS help finance the group’s war machine through petty crime.
Kenneth Weene's insight:

Obviously, ISIS is becoming a gang just like the drug cartels and the street gangs of central America. While part of our response must be military, we also need to consider addressing the psychological and sociological conditions that lead young people first into criminality and then into the rationalization that being a hoodlum in the guise of jihad makes their behavior acceptable. 

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