ISIS | KUOW News and Information

ISIS

Three years ago, the Islamic State overran large swaths of Iraq and Syria, and soon declared a caliphate that straddled the border between the two countries. Today, the group's physical caliphate is declining — and the group is preparing its base of fighters for a future under siege.

One of the ways it is doing that is through its musical propaganda.

Updated at 9:45 p.m. ET

President Trump revealed "highly classified information" to two top Russian officials during a controversial Oval Office meeting last week, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Updated at 4 a.m. ET Saturday

A government spokesman has increased the death toll from Thursday's bombing using the "Mother of All Bombs" in Afghanistan to 94, up from 36.

Ataullah Khogyani, the spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, said in a tweet Saturday that 94 ISIS members were killed in the attack on an ISIS underground complex, including four top commanders.

"Fortunately there is no report of civilians being killed in the attack," Khogyani told The Associated Press on Saturday.

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

Turkish authorities made multiple arrests Tuesday as they search for the person who attacked an Istanbul nightclub in the early hours of New Year's Day, killing at least 39 people.

A lone gunman shot his way into the Reina nightclub, which was packed with holiday revelers.

To Donald Trump, one of President Obama's major failings was his refusal to identify "radical Islam" specifically as America's top adversary.

"Anyone who cannot name our enemy is not fit to lead this country," Trump told a crowd in Ohio in August. "Anyone who cannot condemn the hatred, oppression and violence of radical Islam lacks the moral clarity to serve as our president."

As Iraqi security forces advance toward the ISIS-held city of Mosul, ISIS militants are said to be rounding up civilians from surrounding areas and bringing them to the city to use as human shields.

The man from Mosul is neat and tidy, in his mid-30s. He uses careful English and tries to stop his voice from trembling as he speaks about the Iraqi city he lived in all his life.

"My mind is full with memories," he says. "Friends. Home. You know — my home. I was born there."

ISIS has occupied Mosul for more than two years. Residents describe a regime of strict rules and savagely violent punishments for breaking them. The man is too afraid of ISIS to give his name or occupation, but he is a professional. He brought up a family in Mosul.

The Islamic State forced the world to take notice when the extremist group overran Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, in June 2014.

Just months earlier, President Obama had described ISIS as "the JV team." But by August 2014, the U.S. was bombing ISIS in Iraq, and early Monday, the U.S. teamed up with the Iraqi army and other allies in a major offensive to recapture the northern Iraqi city.

New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi is known for her in-depth reporting on terrorism and the Islamic State. Her recent jailhouse interview with Harry Sarfo, a German citizen who joined ISIS and trained in Syria before disavowing the group, revealed the organization's particular interest in recruits from Europe.

The Pentagon says U.S. warplanes began attacking Islamic State targets in Libya today at the request of the U.N.-backed Libyan government. The airstrikes are in the city of Sirte, which is controlled by ISIS.

American aircraft destroyed a tank and two ISIS vehicles that the Pentagon says posed a threat to Libyan fighters trying to retake the city.

R
Ahmed Saad/Reuters

Baghdad is no stranger to violence, but a bombing on Sunday stunned the Iraqi capital.

“They’re still digging out the bodies,” says reporter Jane Arraf. “They don’t know exactly who died or how many died.”

The death toll is officially at least 150, but many people are still unaccounted for. Most are women and children.

“This was different,” says Arraf, “because of the scale; because of the fact that they struck during the holy month of Ramadan, and because of the victims. The victims included entire families.”

Updated 4:30 a.m. ET with new death toll

A bomb struck a busy street in Iraq's capital Baghdad, killing at least 142 people.

Turkish officials say Islamic State militants orchestrated the terrorist attack that killed 42 people and injured more than 230 at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport Tuesday.

ISIS has not claimed responsibility. The attack at the airport was the latest and one of the most deadly in a string of at least a dozen attacks in Turkey over the past year. Turkey has blamed most of these attacks on either Kurdish separatists or ISIS.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that the U.S. and its allies are making progress on the battlefield against the Islamic State.

But then John Brennan dropped a major caveat.

Updated at 8:55 p.m. ET.

He called it yapping, loose talk, and sloppiness. President Obama dismissed criticism of his administration's avoidance of the term "radical Islam" and urged America to live up to its founding values Tuesday, speaking at length about inclusiveness and religious freedom.

Crucifixions, executions, food shortages, forced prayer: These are features of life in the ISIS stronghold of Sirte, Libya, according to a new Human Rights Watch report.

All eyes were on 20-year-old Abdullahi Yusuf when he stepped on the stand in federal court last week in Minneapolis to testify for the prosecution in America's largest ISIS recruitment trial.

As Yusuf began to speak, his words provided a rare, behind-the-scenes look at how more than a dozen young men convinced themselves that the way to prove they were good Muslims was to travel to Syria and fight for ISIS.

Imagine this scenario: A young Muslim leaves home to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Thousands of young men from Europe have done exactly that in the past two years.

But here's the twist: Imagine that just weeks after arriving, the young man realizes he's made a terrible mistake. What does he do now?

Armed with a 3-D printer and a computer-guided stonecutter, cultural heritage advocates are taking on the jackhammers of the Islamic State and its destructive ideology.

When Islamic State militants seized the Syrian desert town of Palmyra last May, an orgy of demolition began. Using dynamite, fire, bulldozers and pickaxes, the wrecking crew targeted 2,000-year-old Greco-Roman temples, monuments and stone statues. Palmyra's 20-foot-tall Arch of Triumph, a symbolically important monument, lay in ruins.

Olfa Hamrouni sits in a café in central Tunis and recounts how she lost her two oldest daughters to ISIS.

Their story starts — as many stories about teenagers do — with a mother's attempt to curb her children's behavior. The older girls were getting a little rebellious, playing wild music and wearing skull-and-bones T-shirts. They'd been acting out, she says, since their father left the family with no money and no support.

"After the divorce, the two girls were lost. They didn't know what to do. My oldest girl, Ghofran, she was looking for a reason to live," she says.

The Pentagon hopes an ISIS chemical weapons engineer captured in Iraq last month will lead U.S. troops to possible weapons sites and help prevent chemical attacks by the Islamic State.

Defense officials hope that Sleiman Daoud al-Afari will help them find storage sites for chemical munitions including mustard agent, which can blister the skin and lungs and lead to death in high concentrations. Iraqi officials told the Associated Press that al-Afari worked for Saddam Hussein's military and has long been a member of ISIS, which seized portions of Iraq last summer.

Bill Radke speaks with Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer about Canada's decision to stop air strikes against ISIS. 

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that Canada will cease its airstrikes against self-proclaimed Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria by Feb. 22.

It will remain part of the coalition targeting the militants.

The rise of ISIS and other Muslim extremist groups in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia has brought horrific persecution of non-Muslims — Christians, Jews and other religious minorities. Now, a group of Islamic scholars, Muslim leaders and government ministers from Muslim-majority countries has promised to work together to protect those minorities, saying Islam forbids religious persecution.

In the wake of the Paris attacks, a majority of young Americans support sending U.S. ground troops to fight ISIS, according to a wide-ranging new poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics.

The institute has asked millennials about the idea of American boots on the ground at three different times this year, and the survey results have fluctuated somewhat, but there seems to be a "hardening of support."

President Obama and French President François Hollande promised to increase cooperation and expand attacks against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

During a joint press conference with Hollande at the White House, Obama said that the United States and France "owe our freedom to each other."

After the Paris attacks, Obama said, "our hearts broke too."

"In that stadium, concert hall, restaurants and cafes we see our own," Obama said. "Today we stand with you."

ISIS brings in millions and the US is all but helpless to stop it.

Nov 24, 2015
Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, more and more people are saying that when it comes to ISIS, it's time to follow the money.

But where does ISIS — often described as the richest terrorist organization — get their cash from?

According to Cam Simpson, a reporter for Bloomburg Business, the answer to that question is oil.

At every turn, this year's presidential campaign has proved conventional wisdom wrong. The aftermath of the Paris attacks might be another example.

As soon as the attacks were over, a chorus of (establishment) Republican voices predicted that the new focus on national security and terrorism would change the dynamic of the Republican race. This was the tipping point, they declared, that would finally usher out the outsiders leading the polls — Donald Trump and Ben Carson — in favor of more serious, experienced candidates.

The Islamic State's activities in Iraq and Syria are well-known, but the group is gaining a toehold elsewhere in the world as well. In a chilling new documentary, a long-haired fighter claims that an ISIS-run "school" teaches all local children from the age of 3 in Afghanistan's Kunar province.

The Islamic State's claim of responsibility for a trio of major attacks, including the assault on Paris, has led to a rapid reassessment of the extremist group and its aspirations.

Until a couple of weeks ago, ISIS appeared focused on building its self-declared caliphate, or Islamic empire, in its core areas of Syria and Iraq. But it now says it was behind attacks in France, Egypt and Lebanon that killed nearly 400 people in a two-week span.

Basic questions — like the group's goals or whether it's getting stronger or weaker — are being examined anew.

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