[Published here on July 27, 2017]
Beirut (AFP) – A US-backed alliance has ousted Islamic State group jihadists from half of their Syrian bastion Raqa, a monitor said Wednesday, as the escalating fighting drove up the civilian death toll.
[Published here on February 26, 2015]
In interviews I conducted with ISIS fighters and supporters, I tried to bring it back to basics: why did you join, what’s it like, where’s your family? These brief yet illuminating conversations gave me a glimpse inside their heads.
We are friendly! Unless you are an enemy, of course, I mean, just because people are in ISIS doesn’t mean that they go around on a killing rampage. They are humans, they laugh they joke, they goof with each other. The beheading, execution in public are messages to ISIS enemies, but also part of Sharia law and shows that they implement it fully. — Abu Bakr al-Janabi
Mainly my main inspiration to come to Syria was George Bush, Tony Blair, and the presidents of the West and their foreign policy towards Islam — Egypt, Kashmir, Sinai, Yemen, Afghanistan. Guantanamo Bay. Abu Ghraib. —Abu Sumayyah
[Published originally here. Omar al-Khani (Turkey) and I reported the following, edited by Newsweek Middle East Editor Janine DiGiovanni]
On the rare occasions when ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is seen in public, his entourage is somewhere between that of a president and a mobster. “The minute he entered, the mobile coverage disappeared,” says a 29-year-old resident of Raqqa in Syria—who asked to be identified only as Abu Ali—recalling the flawless security on one occasion when al-Baghdadi entered a mosque. “Armed guards closed the area. The women were sent upstairs to the women’s section to pray. Everyone was warned not to take photos or videos. It was the most nerve-racking atmosphere.