United States/Da’esh – CIA director John Brennan said on the 13 Jul 16 that three bomb attacks which struck Saudi Arabia during the 361 reporting period bore the “hallmark” of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks but observers quickly noted that the methods used resembled those of the extremist organization. Seven people are believed to have been killed and two injured in the Medina attacks, at a mosque in Qatif and in western Jeddah, the economic capital, not far from the US consulate. “Those three attacks were, I think, the work of ISIL,” Brennan said at an event at a Washington think tank, using the US government’s preferred abbreviation for ISIS militants. “ISIL presents a very, very serious threat not just to Europe and the United States... but inside of Saudi Arabia,” he told an audience at the Brookings Institution. Saudi Arabia is part of the US-led international coalition battling the ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, Saudi authorities announced that they had dismantled an ISIS-linked group, detaining hundreds of suspects. Saudi Arabia’s top cleric, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, has declared the ISIS group to be an “enemy of Islam.”
United States/Da’esh – The US State Department designated two Russians allied to ISIS as “global terrorists” on the 13 Jul 16 including a former Guantanamo detainee and a Chechen militant tied to deadly attacks in Moscow. The State Department said Aslan Avgazarovich Byutukaev, also known as Amir Khamzat, is the ISIS leader in Chechnya and responsible for suicide bombings in Russia including the Jan 11 attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, which killed 35.Since becoming an ISIS leader in Jun 15, the department said, Byutukaev has planned attacks for the group. It said that last November, Russian Special Forces discovered a large bomb hidden on the side of the road in Ingushetia that was part of a planned attack “directed by Byutukaev.” Ayrat Vakhitov, who also goes by the name Salman Bulgarsky, is a former inmate at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay who was arrested in Afghanistan in 2001 and released in 2004 to Russia. In recent years, the ethnic Tatar has fought for the ISIS group in Syria and uses the internet to recruit fighters for the group, according to the State Department. According to a Voice of America report, he was detained by Turkish authorities early this month in relation to the 28 Jun 16 attack at Ataturk international airport, which left 45 people dead. “Today’s action notifies the US public and the international community that Aslan Avgazarovich Byutukaev and Ayrat Nasimovich Vakhitov are actively engaged in terrorism,” the State Department said. The designation includes sanctions that prohibit Americans from transactions with the two, and blocks any of their assets under US jurisdiction.
United States/Da’esh – The Pentagon says that ISIS fighters are have been posing a growing threat to U.S. and Iraqi forces by using small commercial drones to carry improvised explosives devices (IEDs) or surveillance cameras it was reported by Homeland Security on the 11 Jul 16. These drones are especially threatening because they can evade detection. The Washington Times reports that the growing threat led the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency, the Pentagon’s office charged with keeping tab on and countering IEDs, to ask Congress for permission to reallocate $20 million to provide money for a counter-drone program. The funds would be used to “identify, acquire, integrate and conduct testing” of technologies which would “counter the effects of unmanned aerial systems and the threats they pose to U.S. forces,” according to a budget document sent to Congress last week. The document was part of a broader request by the Pentagon to be permitted to shift $2.5 billion in defence appropriations approved for this year from their original purposes to other programs. Analysts note that the request reflects the reality that commercially available drone technology has now reached beyond the hobbyist community to adversaries of the United States. The Pentagon, in its latest annual report on Iran’s military capabilities, said, for example, that Iran is fielding armed drones among other “increasingly lethal weapon systems.” Around the Pentagon, the police have posted “no drone” signs, along with the more common “no photos” warnings. The Pentagon’s budget document notes that in the fight against ISIS, “small and tactical unmanned aerial systems” equipped with improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, “pose a direct threat to U.S. and coalition forces,” according to the budget document. “Just days after the Iraqi forces began occupying Makhmour in Ninevah Province, a video surfaced” on an ISIS Web site “showing forces on the ground there, demonstrating they were using the footage in both reconnaissance and propaganda roles,” Army Colonel Chris Garver, the Defence Department’s top spokesman in Iraq, told the Telegraph. The Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency has seen ISIS fly “quadcopters and fixed-wing type drones you can buy commercially” as “both an IED delivery system and for reconnaissance,” the agency’s spokesman, David Small, told the Teegraph. The commercial drones used by ISIS have weighed about 50 pounds or less, Small said. Small noted that in addition to drones with full-motion video looking for attack opportunities and monitoring Iraqi Security Forces, ISIS uses the drones to provide target information for vehicles carrying suicide bombs. Small said, “there is a wide array of technology angles we are looking into” to defeat the drones which would be deployed within two years, if not sooner.