The international campaign against ISIS: February 12-18

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The international campaign against ISIS

US and coalition airstrikes

This past week the coalition forces carried out dozens of airstrikes in Syria and Iraq:

In Syria, airstrikes were carried out in the Al-Raqqah province, the rural areas around Kobanî, Deir al-Zor and Al-Hasakah. The strikes hit tanks and APCs, military posts, a bunker, buildings, control points and oil pumping facilities.

In Iraq, airstrikes were carried out in the areas of Mosul, Kirkuk, Tel Afar, Al- Asad, Sinjar and Al-Fallujah. The strikes hit ISIS units, bulldozers, armed vehicles, weapons, posts and buildings.

Remarks by American envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition John

Allen, the American envoy to the international anti-ISIS coalition, was interviewed by the Jordanian News Agency in Petra. He said the following:

The objective of the American-led coalition has not changed and is still to defeat ISIS. An extensive ground offensive will be carried out “very shortly,” led by Iraqi forces. The coalition forces have teams of advisors on the ground.

From the beginning Jordan has played a leading role in the anti-ISIS coalition. He praised Jordan’s humanitarian and political role, adding that Jordan prevented foreign fighters from reaching Syria and Iraq.

The coalition supports and trains the [Sunni] tribes. The tribesmen are an effective anti-ISIS force in the Al-Anbar province in Iraq as they were an effective anti-Al-Qaeda force in the same region in the past.

The situation in Syria is more difficult than the one in Iraq. That is because the United States has partners in Iraq, in the form of the Iraqi government and its head, Abadi, whereas the Assad regime in Syria is not a United States partner.

Asked if American weapons and training assistance to the Iraqi army was being delayed, John Allen answered that the United States was doing its best to provide the Iraqi army with weapons and training as quickly as possible.

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Counterterrorism

Salafist-jihadi leader in Belgium sentenced to 12 years in prison

On February 11, 2015, a Belgian court sentenced Fouad Belkacem, the leader of the Salafist-jihadi organization Sharia4Belgium, to 12 years in prison. The trial began in September 2014 and was held in Antwerp. Forty-five other members of the organization were also tried (most of them in absentia; only eight were present in court). They were given prison sentences of between three and five years. The Belgian judge said during sentencing that there was no doubt that “Sharia4Belgium is a terrorist organization” that had brainwashed young Belgians and sent dozens of them to fight in Syria in the ranks of terrorist organizations such as ISIS.

Sharia4Belgium was established in 2010 with the objective of enforcing the sharia (Islamic religious law) in Belgium. One of its activities was sending young Belgians to fight in Syria, and to that end provided them with logistic support. Similar networks were later founded in Europe and beyond, and the “Sharia4” organizations became a kind of international network using the Internet to spread jihadi ideology.

On October 7, 2012, the Belgian authorities outlawed Sharia4Belgium.

Sharia4Belgium is headed by Fouad Belkacem, a Belgian from Morocco, who became more religious a number of years ago and changed his name to Abu Imran. He preached that homosexuals of both sexes should be killed and said he prayed for Osama bin Laden. Belkacem has a long criminal record that includes convictions in 2002, 2004 and 2007.

He was sentenced to prison in Morocco for dealing drugs. In June 2012 he was convicted in Belgium for incitement to hatred against non-Muslims and sentenced to two years in prison. Paroled in February 2013, he was arrested again because he had violated the terms of his parole and returned to finish his sentence. He has now been sentenced to 12 years in prison, along with other organization activists.

 

Written by: The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC)