A United Nations terrorism expert said on Monday that the Islamic State terrorist group has made between $35 million and $45 million off of ransom payments in the past year alone, the Associated Press reports.
Speaking at a hearing for the U.N. Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee, Yotsna Lalji, an expert who has monitored Al Qaeda and other extremist groups, told the committee that the extremist practice of kidnapping for a source of revenue "continues to grow."
By telling the committee that the Islamic State has made as much as $45 million off of ransom payments this past year, Lalji put that dollar amount into perspective by stating that an estimated total of just $120 million in ransom payments were paid to terrorist organizations in the span of 2004 to 2012. more >>
Weapons recently supplied by the United States to Iraqi military forces and tribal militias are already ending up in the hands of Islamic State militants, Iraqi officers and lawmakers are claiming.
As the Pentagon requests $1.3 billion in 2015 to provide weapons to the Iraqi military and tribal forces to help them defeat the Islamic State terrorist organization, Iraqi lawmakers, officers and soldiers recently told The New York Times that corruption has run rampant among Iraq's military leadership and because of it, some of the "recently" supplied U.S. weapons have been sold on the black market to Islamic State fighters.
"I told the Americans, don't give any weapons through the army, not even one piece, because corruption is everywhere, and you will not see any of it," asserted Col. Shaaban al-Obeidi of the internal security forces, who is also a leader of a Sunni tribe on Anbar Province. "Our people will steal it." more >>
The lawyer representing two Christian pastors and a deacon facing six years in prison in Iran for their faith has reportedly been denied access to his clients ahead of an appeal hearing.
"It is unacceptable that these men have been denied access to their legal counsel ahead of the court hearing. We remain concerned about the lack of due process in their case and the exceptional nature of their punishment. They have committed no crime and are effectively being punished for their faith," said Christian Solidarity Worldwide's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas on Monday.
"We are deeply concerned for their wellbeing and, in particular, for pastor Irani's health, which has deteriorated significantly during his unjust detention. We urge the Iranian authorities to release these men and the many others who are being held in contravention of the international covenants guaranteeing freedom of religion or belief to which Iran is party," Thomas added. more >>
The Islamic State terrorist organization now has at least 12 known military allies, operating in nine countries outside of Iraq and Syria, that have publicly pledged their allegiances to the caliphate of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
As Islamic State leadership continues to call on extremists worldwide to wreak havoc on the West, NYMag.com's Daily Intelligencer reports that the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium (TRAC) has identified 12 international militia organizations that are now affiliating their efforts with the Islamic State's jihad and could help expand the group's caliphate.
Militia allies in Pakistan, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Indonesia, Lebanon, Philippines, Jordan and Gaza/Israel have all announced some sort of cooperation with the Islamic State and al-Baghdadi. Many of these organizations were recently affiliated with Al Qaeda and have since switched to ISIS allegiances over the summer and into the fall. more >>
The fate of Pastor Saeed Abedini continues hanging in the balance following the extension of negotiations between Iran and several nations, including the U.S., on a nuclear deal. The American Center for Law and Justice noted that Abedini has not been "completely abandoned" yet by the Obama administration, and it remains critical that Iran be pressured for his release.
"The American people were heard and Iran was not rewarded with a nuclear deal while it continues to imprison and torment a U.S. citizen. Yet Pastor Saeed is not free," wrote Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ.
"Second, the reports indicate that there will be no lull in the negotiations; they will continue as soon as next month. That means now continues to be a critical time to pressure Iran to release Pastor Saeed." more >>
At least 37 people have died as Islamic State militants and Iraqi and tribal forces have been involved in an intense battle near the main government complex in Anbar province's capital city of Ramadi since ISIS launched a massive offensive Friday.
The fighting is taking place close to the regional government and security headquarters in Ramadi, about 70 miles from Baghdad, according to CNN.
ISIS, also known as ISIL, controls most of Anbar, and therefore the city of Ramadi is highly strategic for the Sunni terror group, which last month executed hundreds of members of the Albu Nimr clan in an attempt to weaken local resistance to their advances in the Sunni province. more >>