While U.S. officials say Islamic State, or ISIS, has been demoralized by losses it has suffered in Iraq and Syria due to ongoing American airstrikes, reports suggest that its militants are turning Christian churches into torture chambers and selling priceless artifacts in the black market.
"It [ISIS] was presenting itself as an unstoppable movement," The Guardian quotes an anonymous U.S. official as saying.
"That kind of unstoppable momentum has been blunted, to say the least. We have killed over 1,000 of their fighters, particularly in Kobani [city in Syria], and that gets to Raqqa [also in Syria] because they wanted to take Kobani and had been making the biggest flag they had ever made and they were going to put it up there because to them this is a war of flags." more >>
The Pentagon revealed on Thursday that three top ISIS leaders in Iraq have been killed in recent weeks, and argued that the American-led operation against the terror group is having a "significant impact."
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Wall Street Journal:
"It is disruptive to their planning and command and control. These are high-value targets, senior leadership." more >>
The Islamic State has been selling artifacts from churches and other cultural centers in the nation of Iraq to fund their organization, says a British publication.
ISIS is taking antiquities, including those worth millions of dollars, from the Middle Eastern country and selling them to prospective Western buyers, according to Oliver Moody of The Times.
"Willy Bruggeman, a former deputy director of Europol who is now president of the Belgian federal police council, said that some of the artefacts had almost certainly been sold illegally to buyers in the UK, although none had yet been traced to Britain," reported Moody on Wednesday. more >>
The Pakistani army killed close to 77 Taliban members in the northwestern tribal regions of the country, days after militants stormed an army school earlier this week in Peshawar and killed 148 people, most of them children.
The offensive was confirmed by Pakistani military chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, who revealed that on Thursday, airstrikes killed 17 militants targets in the Khyber tribal region, while ground troops killed 10 fighters. Another 32 militants died on Friday in an ambush in Tirah valley near the Afghan border, according to The Associated Press.
The Taliban and the Pakistan army have fought each other in the Khyber region in recent months, with militants using the area as a hiding spot, where it is difficult to track them down. more >>
Boko Haram militants are believed to have kidnapped around 172 women and children and killed 35 other people during a raid earlier this week in the northeast Nigerian village of Gamsuri. Boko Haram's advancements in Cameroon have been dealt a heavy defeat, however, after 116 militants were killed on Wednesday in an attack on a northern base.
Residents of Gumsuri reported the kidnappings on Thursday, according to Reuters, in the latest attack by the Islamic militants on villages and cities across Nigeria. The terror group, which has killed thousands in the country since 2009 in a mission to establish Islamic rule, gained international notoriety for kidnapping over 200 schoolgirls from a secondary school in Chibok, only 15 miles from Gumsuri.
Abba Musa, a villager who survived the attack, revealed that the gunmen shouted "God is Great" as they attacked the village and killed at least 35 people. more >>
The controversial nonprofit group Invisible Children, which produced two influential documentaries that helped heighten awareness of the abduction and use of children as soldiers by the Lord's Resistance Army in the Ugandan civil conflict, has announced that it will officially close down by the end of 2015.
The organization is most notable for the 30-minute "Kony 2012" documentary, which called for the arrest of LRA leader Joseph Kony and also called for greater U.S. involvement against the LRA. The documentary, which went viral on YouTube when it was published in March of 2012, received over 100 million views in a matter of five days and helped raise more than $30 million for their cause.
The organization's CEO, Ben Keesey, announced in a recent video statement that the group has had difficulty maintaining funding and it's no longer viable for the organization to continue operating at its current levels. more >>