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ISIS releases detailed guerrilla warfare manual for fighters biding their time around the world
CAIRO (Reuters) - After losing territory, ISIS fighters are turning to guerrilla war — and the group's newspaper is telling them exactly how to do it.
In recent weeks, IS's al-Naba online newspaper has encouraged followers to adopt guerrilla tactics and published detailed instructions on how to carry out hit-and-run operations.
The group is using such tactics in places where it aims to expand beyond Iraq and Syria. While IS has tried this approach before, the guidelines make clear the group is adopting it as standard operating procedure.
At the height of its power IS ruled over millions in large parts of Syria and Iraq.
But in March it lost its last significant piece of territory, the Syrian village of Baghouz, and the group has been forced to return to its roots: a style of fighting that avoids direct confrontation, weakening the enemy by attrition and winning popular support.
This attempt to revive Islamic State has so far been successful, analysts say, with many global attacks in recent weeks, including in places never before targeted by the group.
"The sad reality is that ISIS is still very dangerous," said Rita Katz, executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremists. "It has the tools and foundations needed to build insurgencies across the world."
In a rare video published by IS's Al Furqan network in April, the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi encouraged followers to fight on and weaken the enemy by attrition, stressing that waging war is more important than winning.
It was more downbeat than his only other video appearance from the pulpit of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul in 2014, when he was dressed all in black and sporting a fancy watch.
In the new video, he sat cross-legged on a mattress as he spoke to three aides. A Kalashnikov rifle rested against the wall behind him -- the same type of weapon that appeared in videos of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and Baghdadi's predecessor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who both adopted the guerrilla warfare tactic.
"He appeared as a commander of hardened mujahideen, of an insurgency group, not the pampered leader of a well-off caliphate," said Katz. "His appearance totally mobilized Islamic State's supporters all over the world."
Hassan Abu Hanieh, a Jordanian expert on Islamists, said IS has used guerrilla tactics to temporarily seize towns in order to attract media coverage but also as part of a new strategic approach.
"This kind of war has turned into a strategy for the group," he said. "At this stage they are using it as a war of attrition, like Baghdadi said in his latest speech."
In April, IS claimed it had attacked the town of Fuqaha in Libya, killing the head of the town council and setting fire to the municipal guard headquarters. "They seized control of the town for several hours and then returned to their bases safely," the claim said of the IS fighters.
In recent weeks, al-Naba newspaper, one of IS's most important media outlets, has published a four-part series titled "The Temporary Fall of Cities as a Working Method for the Mujahideen".
In the articles, IS urged fighters to avoid face-to-face clashes with the enemy — something the group had previously encouraged.
The series explained how guerrilla fighters can weaken the enemy without taking losses. It urged the jihadists to seize weapons from victims and grab or burn their valuables.
Among the goals of hit-and-run attacks, the series said, was to take hostages, release prisoners and seize cash from the enemy.
Other goals were to "secure the needs of fighters" by collecting money, food, medicine and weapons "particularly when it is difficult to secure these needs because (the fighters) are in a weak position," one of the articles said.
Al Qaeda tactics
These guerrilla warfare manuals are the most detailed IS has published yet, Katz said.
The language is similar to the one used in manuals published years ago by Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia via its "al-Battar" electronic magazine, which provided military instructions to supporters and cells around the world, she said.
IS's new manuals show that the group is short on fighters and finances, she added.
When it lost its territory, IS also lost an important source of income, mainly taxes and oil revenue.
"Financially, territorially and militarily speaking, the group is very weak," said Katz. "That said, ISIS leadership seeks to revive its so-called caliphate, with special attention on areas outside of Iraq and Syria."
Although not all of the group's claims can be confirmed, it has announced some wide-ranging operations.
On April 18, IS claimed its first attack in Democratic Republic of Congo and announced the creation of a "Central Africa Province" of the "Caliphate". Since then the group has claimed several more attacks in Congo.
On May 10, IS claimed it had established a province in India. It also said IS fighters had inflicted casualties on Indian soldiers in Kashmir.
The same day, militants on motorbikes stormed a town in northeastern Nigeria and opened fire on residents and soldiers in an attack later claimed by Islamic State.
IS has claimed more operations in Nigeria and dozens of similar attacks in recent weeks in Afghanistan, Niger, Somalia, Egypt, Pakistan, Chechnya, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. In several cases, the group published pictures of bullets, rifles and other weapons it said it had collected from soldiers.
By striking in a wide range of places, IS is promoting itself and proving it can reorganize and modify its strategy, said Laith Alkhouri, co-founder and senior director at Flashpoint, which monitors militants' activity online.
"ISIS super-temporarily seizes areas, flexes its muscles, subdues locals, even recruits from amongst them, and taunts governments by exposing security flaws or weaknesses," he said. "This is a considerably important avenue for ISIS's growth."
Guerrilla war is a less costly way to inflict damage and the group is using the tactic where it wants to expand, such as eastern Afghanistan, northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, North Africa, the Indian subcontinent and central Africa, he said.
"The group's media realizes the importance of highlighting this, not only for boosting the morale of the support base," Alkhouri said. "But just as importantly for expanding its footprint geographically — effectively setting up and expanding unrest zones around the world."
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"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.
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Golsteyn will be arraigned on Thursday morning at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Phillip Stackhouse told Task & Purpose.
No date has been set for his trial yet, said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
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With John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, the titular hitman, played by 54-year-old Keanu Reeves, continues on a blood-soaked hyper-stylized odyssey of revenge: first for his slain dog, then his wrecked car, then his destroyed house, then ... well, honestly it's hard to keep track of exactly what Wick is avenging by this point, or the body count he's racked up in the process.
Though we do know that the franchise has raked in plenty of success at the box office: just a week after it's May 17 release, the third installment in director Chad Stahleski's series took in roughly $181 million, making it even more successful than its two wildly popular prequels 2014's John Wick, and 2017's John Wick: Chapter 2.
And, more importantly, Reeves' hitman is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest action movie heroes in recent memory. Few (if any) other action flicks have succeeded in creating a mind-blowing avant garde ballet out of a dozen well-dressed gunmen who get shot, choked, or stabbed with a pencil by a pissed off hitman who just wants to return to retirement.
But for all the over-the-top acrobatics, fight sequences, and gun-porn (see: the sommelier), what makes the series so enthralling, especially for the service members and vets in the audience, is that there are some refreshing moments of realism nestled under all of that gun fu. Wrack your brain and try to remember the last time you saw an action hero do a press check during a shootout, clear a jam, or actually, you know, reload, instead of just hip-firing 300 rounds from an M16 nonstop. It's cool, we'll wait.
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The Justice Department has accused Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) of illegally using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs with five women.
Hunter, who fought in the Iraq War as a Marine artillery officer, and his wife Margaret were indicated by a federal jury on Aug. 21, 2018 for allegedly using up to $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
In a recent court filing, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign money to pay for a variety of expenses involved with his affairs, ranging from a $1,008 hotel bill to $7 for a Sam Adams beer.