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ISIS’s Al-Baghdadi resurfaces alive and well

ISIS publishes long recording by Al-Baghdadi, refuting Russian claims ISIS leader was killed in an air strike

Alexander Mercouris

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Conclusive evidence that ISIS’s leader, the man known as Ibrahim Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is still alive despite Russian claims earlier this year that he was killed in a Russian air strike, has appeared in the form of a 46 minute long recording from Al-Baghdadi himself, which must have been made recently – after the date of the air strike in which it was claimed he was killed – since it refers to the Iraqi army’s recapture of Mosul and North Korea’s recent nuclear tests.

Publication of the recording incidentally confirms that Al-Baghdadi’s authority within ISIS is undiminished despite ISIS’s recent defeats, and that within ISIS he continues to be accepted as Islam’s true Caliph and therefore as ISIS’s undisputed leader.

When the Russian claims of Al-Baghdadi’s death originally appeared I was skeptical about them.  I pointed out that within ISIS’s centralised theocratic autocracy the killing of the ‘Caliph’ – ie. of Al-Baghdadi – would be expected to have an immediate and visible impact, of which there was no sign.

Al-Baghdadi’s death has not been confirmed, and the Russian claim so far is only tentative.  The BBC is reporting that ‘chatter’ on Jihadi websites – usually a strong indicator that some important Jihadi figure has been killed – is muted, though that could be more an indication of the lengths ISIS is taking to conceal news of Al-Baghdadi’s death rather than a sign that the news is untrue.

Perhaps a stronger sign that Al-Baghdadi is alive is that there has so far been no visible weakening of ISIS’s resolve.  Though ISIS is everywhere in retreat, its fighters continue to put up a passionate resistance in Mosul, it continues its efforts to storm Deir Ezzor, and its well-oiled propaganda machine, complete with its slick ‘news agency’ Amaq, functions much as before.

That suggests that the central leadership of ISIS is continuing to operate as normal, whereas one would expect if Al-Baghdadi were dead that some signs of disruption would be visible.

I also pointed out that the destruction by ISIS of the Great Mosque of Mosul – the place where Al-Baghdadi originally proclaimed his Caliphate – also provided indirect evidence that Al-Baghdadi was still alive, since it looked like something he had ordered himself.

Almost certainly it was Al-Baghdadi himself who ordered the Great Mosque’s destruction, just as it was almost certainly he who back in October ordered that Mosul be defended rather than handed over to the Iraqi army.

That points to Al-Baghdadi probably being being still alive despite suggestions from the Russians a few days ago that he may have been killed in a Russian air strike.  I say probably because Al-Baghdadi almost certainly gave the order that the Great Mosque be destroyed rather than be allowed to fall into ‘apostate’ hands some time ago, as shown by the carefully planned way its destruction has been carried out.

However even though the order to destroy the Great Mosque was undoubtedly given some time ago, there has to be a question whether the ISIS fighters in Mosul would have acted on the order if Al-Baghdadi was dead.  Though the communications of the remaining ISIS fighters trapped in Mosul with ISIS’s leadership are doubtless sporadic and being monitored, I still think that before taking such a step they would have sought final authorisation from ISIS’s leadership – probably through a coded message – and that this would have required the agreement of Al-Baghdadi himself.

Subsequently, when the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on the basis of what it claimed was information it had been provided by sources within ISIS that Al-Baghdadi was dead, I revised my view, and began to think that he might be dead after all.  It now turns out that it was my original skepticism which was right.

I suspect that some of the supposed ‘clues’ of Al-Baghdadi death, of which the report by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights was just one, were part of a false trail intentionally laid by ISIS in order to facilitate Al-Baghdadi’s escape from Mosul or Raqqa or wherever else he was hiding.

If so then the fact Al-Baghdadi now feels able to publish his latest recording may be a sign that he now is somewhere where he feels safe.

Though the likelihood must be that this is somewhere south of the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor, where the rest of ISIS’s leadership is known to have relocated, it cannot be completed excluded that he has fled Syria and Iraq entirely, and that he is now based somewhere else where ISIS has a presence, such as Afghanistan or Libya.

I would finish by making two further observations about Al-Bagdhadi’s recording.

Firstly, there is no doubt that the recording is by Al-Baghdadi himself.  Some people who still want to believe that Al-Baghdadi was killed in a Russian air strike will no doubt deny this, and will claim the recording is a fake.  However the recording is undoubtedly genuine and by Al-Baghdadi himself.

Secondly, the recording is basically a call for ISIS to keep fighting with the assurance of final victory despite all the ongoing defeats.  However it offers no practical explanation of how that victory will be achieved, or of how what now looks like ISIS’s inevitable defeat will be avoided.

As such it reminded me of Hitler’s last public speech – delivered on 30th January 1945 – which in similarly mystical language laced with invocations of God, called on the German people to keep fighting to the bitter end until final victory was achieved, without however offering any practical indication of how that victory would be won.

Comparisons of contemporary world leaders with Hitler are made far too often, and should generally be avoided.  The case of Al-Baghdadi is however something of an exception.

Like Hitler Al-Baghdadi is someone who came out of nowhere, managed amidst much horror and devastation to achieve extraordinary power in a remarkably short time, and who continues to retain the fanatical loyalty of his followers, and seems certain to go on doing so right up to the bitter end.

The final parallel, and in some ways the most fitting but also – given Al-Baghdadi’s position as a Middle East leader who is also the leader of a fanatical religious cult – the most extraordinary, is that as was the case with Hitler, it is the Russian army which seems to be the force which principally acting to bring his reign to an end.

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André De Koning
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André De Koning

Fine article and “bad news” the man is still there to incite murder and hatred.
Regarding the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: a one man band that has misled numerous media outlets, including the BBC and The Guardian. Why they never check who and what this source is about, is amazing! They have spread the most ridiculous fake news.

Joel W
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Joel W

So is he the offspring of a Weeble and Whack-a-Mole? Knock him over, put him down, but he keeps popping right back up? Obviously the US’s fight against them is complete BS, but I really thought with Russia thinking they got him, he’d be gone. Hope they were merely mistaken and not playing both sides like our Neocon devils are.

seby
Guest
seby

So he is “safe and warm” in the bungalow at the back of john mccain’s place! I wonder when he will get invited to the whitehouse as a “freedom fighter” since Russia are “more dangerous” than isis the wh spruikers say.

Tiffani Drew
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Tiffani Drew

Soon, soon.

seby
Guest
seby

🙂

S.M. De Kuyper
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S.M. De Kuyper

I would guess his life has nothing to do with the US except they desperately need him alive, which wish alone in enough to kill him, so he’d stay far away from them.

seby
Guest
seby

Could be being set up for another “killing bin laden” kind of charade. Seymour Hersh will later expose it as a fraud, get a prize and the same old crap will keep going on until the American people really pull their heads out of the militarists arses and start a genuine anti-war movement. Forget voting for “anti-war” candidates after the last two bullshit artists. “If their lips are moving most politicians are lying” to paraphrase kindly.

mikhas
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mikhas

He is probably alive and well at some US occupation base in Syria together with other US trained assets like those that were flown out to safety from Deir Ezzor as SAA and the Russians were approaching.

Tiffani Drew
Guest
Tiffani Drew

You got it.

Dot
Guest
Dot

Just like Santa, there’s one on every street corner as needed.

Ike
Guest
Ike

As ISIS is a CIA asset videos of Al Rubbish Bagi are performed by a hollywood actor who has mastered the Arabic language. This narrows it down to….well… Omar Sharif. Unfortunately he is long dead. The only conclusion then is that this is a holographic image and the mainstream media is leading us down the garden path once again.

S.M. De Kuyper
Guest
S.M. De Kuyper

Al-Bagdadi alive and well, but more important is Alexander’s comment on Hitler and the Russians. He is correct, that similarities are incredible, and, no coincidence.

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Russian Il-20 downed by Syrian missile. Russia blames Israel. Israel blames Syria (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 110.

Alex Christoforou

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The unthinkable has happened in Syria.

The world now teeters on the brink of all out war in Syria as a Russian Il-20 was downed by Syrian missile after Israeli F-16s used it as cover during attack, according to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

President Vladimir Putin, answering a reporter’s question during a press conference with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, said the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane looks like “a chain of tragic circumstances.” 

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tripwire triggered that has the potential to tip the fragile balance in Syria towards conflict between Russia, Iran and Israel.

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The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said…

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

The statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said that four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean.

The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region.”

The statement further said that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result…

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.”

According to reports from RT, the Russian military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,”the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Meanwhile Israel has come out to blame the Syrian government for the downing of the military plane, according to an IDF statement.

Israel said that it “expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members” of the Russian plane. However, it stated that the government of Bashar Assad “whose military shot down the Russian plane,” is “fully responsible” for the incident.

Israel further blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the incident.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) explained that its jets were targeting a Syrian facility “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Israel claimed that the weapons were “meant to attack Israel.”

Via RT

The IDF assumed that the Syrian anti-air batteries “fired indiscriminately” and didn’t “bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.” The Israelis said that when the Syrian military launched the missiles which hit the Russian plane, its own jets were already within Israeli airspace. “During the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation.”

According to the Israeli military, both IDF and Russia have “a deconfliction system,” which was agreed upon by the leadership of both states, and “has proven itself many times over recent years.” The system was in use when the incident happened, the IDF stated. The IDF promised to share “all the relevant information” with Russia “to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”

The military presented a four-point initial inquiry into events in Latakia. It insisted that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft fire caused the Russian jet “to be hit and downed.”

The Russian Il-20 aircraft, with 15 crew on board, went off radar during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province late Monday. Later on Tuesday the Russian Defense Ministry said that an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile.

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Trump Orders Immediate Release Of All Text Messages, Carter Page FISA Application From Russia Investigation

Trump has ordered the DOJ to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions.

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Via Zerohedge

President Trump has ordered the Department of Justice to release all text messages related to the Russia investigation with no redactions, of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also released will be specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The statement reads in full:

“At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications.

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr

***

As we reported last Monday, Trump had been expected to release the documents any time – with specific attention to the Page documents and the “investigative activities of Justice Department lawyer Bruce Ohr” – who was demoted twice for lying about his extensive relationship  with Christopher Steele – the former MI6 spy who assembled the sham “Steele Dossier” used by the FBI in a FISA surveillance application to spy on Page.

Republicans on the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees believe the declassification will permanently taint the Trump-Russia investigation by showing the investigation was illegitimate to begin with. Trump has been hammering the same theme for months.

  • They allege that Bruce Ohr played an improper intermediary role between the Justice Department, British spy Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS — the opposition research firm that produced the Trump-Russia dossier, funded by Democrats. (Ohr’s wife, Nellie, worked for Fusion GPS on Russia-related matters during the presidential election — a fact that Ohr did not disclose on federal forms.)
  • And they further allege that the Obama administration improperly spied on Carter Page — all to take down Trump. –Axios

Ohr, meanwhile, met with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska in 2015 to discuss helping the FBI with organized crime investigations, according to The Hill‘s John Solomon. The meeting with the Putin ally was facilitated by Steele.

Last month Trump called Ohr a disgrace, while also tweeting: “Will Bruce Ohr, whose family received big money for helping to create the phony, dirty and discredited Dossier, ever be fired from the Jeff Sessions  “Justice” Department? A total joke!”

Trump’s threat came one day after two tweets about Ohr, noting a connection to former FBI agent Peter Strzok, as well as a text sent by Ohr after former FBI Director James Comey was fired in which Ohr says “afraid they will be exposed.”

According to emails turned over to Congressional investigators in August, Christopher Steele was much closer to Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie than previously disclosed.

Steele and the Ohrs would have breakfast together on July 30, 2016 at the Mayflower Hotel in downtown Washington D.C., days after Steele turned in installments of his infamous “dossier” on July 19 and 26. The breakfast also occurred one day before the FBI formally launched operation “Crossfire Hurricane,” the agency’s counterintelligence operation into the Trump campaign.

“Great to see you and Nellie this morning Bruce,” Steele wrote shortly following their breakfast meeting. “Let’s keep in touch on the substantive issues/s (sic). Glenn is happy to speak to you on this if it would help.”

“After two years of investigations and accusations from both sides of the aisle about what documents indicate, it is past time for documents to be declassified and let the American people decide for themselves if DoJ and FBI acted properly,” Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows told Axios earlier Sunday.

In early August, journalist Paul Sperry tweeted that Trump may use his presidential authority to declassify “20 redacted pages of a June, 2017 FISA renewal, “and possibly” 63 pages of emails and notes between “Ohr & Steele,” and FD-302 summaries of 12 interviews.”

President Trump threatened to declassify documents two weeks ago – one day after the New York Times allegedly published an anonymous Op-Ed claiming to be from a White House official claiming to be part of an unelected “resistance” cabal within the Trump administration.

“The Deep State and the Left, and their vehicle, the Fake News Media, are going Crazy – & they don’t know what to do,” Trump tweeted earlier this month, adding: “The Economy is booming like never before, Jobs are at Historic Highs, soon TWO Supreme Court Justices & maybe Declassification to find Additional Corruption. Wow!”

Trump’s threat comes as calls by frustrated GOP legislators to release the documents have hit a fevered pitch. Spearheading the effort are Republican Reps. Meadows, Jim Jordan, Matt Gaetz and Lee Zeldin – who have repeatedly asked Trump to declassify more of the heavily redacted FISA surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in late 2016.

In June, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee asked President Trump to declassify key sections of Carter Page’s FISA warrant application, according to a letter obtained by Fox News.

Carter Page, the DOJ/FBI’s person of interest, weighed in on the matter in late August, tweeting: “The Corrupt DOJ, co-conspirators in the DNC and their high-priced consultants correctly believed they had American democracy and the FISA Court over a barrel in 2016.”

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Via Strategic Culture

This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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