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This weekend, Daesh's propaganda outlet, SITE Intel Group, err, I mean Alhayat Media Center, released a video containing footage of several of the accused perpetrators of the Paris terror attacks and purporting to identify several others. It's typical Daesh propaganda: slick production value, stylized murder and gore, violent slogans and calls for jihad. On the one hand, I don't recommend watching it. Like most of their videos, it includes explicit close-ups of brutal murders: beheadings, gunshot wounds to the head. On the other hand, if you can somehow block out those parts, it's a fascinating example of riffing on and appropriating Western 'pop' culture for its own purposes. Whoever is making these videos knows what they're doing.

The video begins with a screen capture of what is supposed to be an encrypted email listing the sites of the Paris attacks and the name of the operation: "KILL THEM WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM". As Ed Snowden pointed out on his Twitter, however, it's an obvious fake, created for the video.

He makes a good point. The Paris attackers didn't use encryption; they used standard cell phone messaging. The only purpose served by including these images is to further justify limiting access to encryption technologies, which is the purpose of useful idiots like Cameron. Isn't it funny how ISIS propaganda (it was the same with al-Qaeda propaganda) somehow always manages to align with Western domestic and foreign policy agendas?
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“The nine lions of the Khilafah who were mobilized from their dens to bring an entire country - France - to her knees. They raised the word of Tawhid and lived the Ayat of the Quran by killing the Kuffar wherever they found them. And they continued to do so until the thirst for their own success was quenched with nothing other than their own blood.”
The video then includes a montage of news footage of the Paris attacks with added effects, and a voice over from alleged Belgian terror mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud. Each of the eight men identified as Paris attack terrorists, identified by their nom-de-plume screen names, then gives a little speech, with several of them executing a captive on screen. They switch back and forth between addressing Muslim and non-Muslim populations in Europe. In heavily accented French, they say such things as the following (some paraphrasing, just to give the gist):
"Your coalition is terrorizing our people, so we'll go terrorize you. You voted for Hollande and the rest of your government, who is bombing us. So, we'll attack you. We won't hesitate to cut your throats, to go to the very center of Paris to do so. You'll taste bitterness as you've never tasted before. The lions are waiting for you here eagerly. We'll show you that all your weapons and artillery, all your alliances against us, all that is useless against people who want to sacrifice their life for Allah. This is an order from our emir to fight you on your lands."

"We'll go to the hearts of your lands and make you taste the same kind of suffering that our wives and children experience here. You have signed your death sentence. When we get to your lands, you won't feel safe anymore. See this head? [Showing a man about to be decapitated.] Imagine yours in its place. It won't be with this knife, but rather with our Kalashnikovs."

"When you travel for tourism or business, or when you're home sleeping, expect a jihadist to come up and kill you. You won't be safe, even when you're dreaming."

"The more you fight ISIS, the more it'll spread. As long as there are Muslims in the unbelievers' prisons, we'll fight you to the last man. If you send fighter jets to bomb Muslims, ISIS will send you bloodthirsty hunters, thirsty for the blood of unbelievers... these men are the terrorists who are terrorizing the unbelievers who terrorize the muslims."

"You Muslims who stay in their land [i.e. France, but mention is made of Rome and England too], socialize with them, eat with them... should be ashamed. You should get a weapon to kill them, hit them in the head with a stone, run over them with a car, terrorize them. Wake up before it's too late, before THEY massacre you."

"This message is addressed to the Muslims who don't join us or adhere to our principles: Until when are you going to stay asleep? Since when is our religion based on it being ok to see our brothers and sisters killed and massacred while you have a normal life, with unemployment and social benefits? Learn about your religion, wake up."
They make mention of France's presence in Mali and say they'll save the Palestinians (yeah right). One of the background songs praises Amedy Coulibaly, saying he showed them how it's done: "I murder French people - charonne bichat voltaire - Coulibaly my brother made them pay - Hyper Cacher slaughter." And the rest is the usual fluff about being willing to risk their lives for Allah, Muslims ruling the world in the future, either winning in this Earth or being happy martyrs in Heaven, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. <Insert more disgusting paramoralisms and pathological twisting ad nauseam.> In other words, exactly what you'd expect from slightly mentally-stunted, pathological, fanatic nutjobs.

Interspersed we get threatening images like these:
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British PM David Cameron.
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French PM Manuel Valls.
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But this one was perhaps the 'best':

Explicit content?
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Here the twenty-something techie nerd responsible for making ISIS look trendy has adapted the standard American "Parental Advisory" label (first introduced by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1985) into a call for violent jihad. Any child of the '70s or '80s will probably have fond memories of the rebellious feelings this label inspired when one came into possession of a CD with bad words in its lyrics. So the CIA, err, ISIS is even appealing to young adults' nostalgic sense of teenage rebellion and anti-censorship.

But the claim by these snuff filmmakers that they represent the "nine lions" who carried out the Paris attacks is what I find most interesting. It largely, but not fully, corroborates the official account of who was responsible for the attacks. But that still doesn't mean that account is necessarily true.

The Daesh-bags

Not much information on the attackers has come out since I wrote my last piece on the attacks and their aftermath. At that time, the story had already changed numerous times and in quite remarkable ways. For example, ringleader Abaaoud's cousin, Hasna Aitboulahcen, was originally labeled the West's "first female suicide bomber", until it later turned out that she was in fact the victim of the bombing in the St. Denis raid (and we still don't know for sure who was responsible for that bombing).

Within four days of the attacks, 5 of the 7 bodies of the attackers had been identified by French police:
  • Ismail Omar Mostefai, 29 (born Nov. 21, 1985), Frenchman of Algerian descent involved in Bataclan concert hall attack [...]
  • Samy Amimour, 28 (born Oct. 15, 1987), involved in Bataclan attack. French, from Drancy, Saint Denis, north of Paris [...]
  • Brahim Abdeslam, 31 (born July 30, 1984), [...] French, resident of Belgium. Blew himself up at Comptoir Voltaire café in Paris. [...]
  • Bilal Hadfi, 20 (born Jan 22, 1995). Involved in Stade de France attack. [...]
  • Suicide bomber involved in Stade de France attack. Passport found beside dead body of kamikaze bomber carries name of Ahmad Al Mohammad, 25, (born Sept. 10 1990), from Idlib, northwest Syria.
Additionally, the Belgian Abaaoud was identified as the terrifying terror mastermind, and Brahim's brother Salah was identified as involved, having rented vehicles that were used and traveled back to Belgium after the attacks. Here they are, shown with pictures available around the time they were identified:
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(Clockwise from top left) Abdeslam Salah (at large), Bilal Hadfi, Ahmad Almohamad, Abdelhamid Abaaoud (alleged ringleader), Samy Amimour, Omar Mostefai
Right away we can see that some of these guys are undoubtedly shown in the new ISIS video, proving that they were involved with Daesh and did engage in terrorism in Syria (or elsewhere). First of all, there's Abaaoud, who was already shown in previous Daesh propaganda. He's included in this video giving a rant in front of an assault rifle and a pirate Daesh flag.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, AKA Abu ‘Umar al-Baljiki
Then there are Hadfi and Amimour, both of whom are shown executing prisoners (whether Syrian soldiers, civilians, or fellow Daeshbags who fell out of favor is impossible to tell):

Bilal Hadfi (AKA Abu Mujaed al-Baljiki) can't contain his glee after beheading his prisoner.

Samy Amimour (AKA Abu Qital al-Faransi) holding a decapitated head.

Another angle of Amimour.
While the passport on one of the Stade de France bombers' bodies identified him as Ahmad Al Mohammad, a Syrian (much to the media's delight), French officials eventually conceded that the passport was likely stolen from a dead Syrian soldier (alternately, it could have been forged). The man carrying this passport had entered the EU with Syrian refugees on October 3, traveling from Turkey to the Greek island Leros. Accompanying him was "M. al-Mahmod" (probably another forgery), later identified as another of the Stade de France bombers.

These are probably the men identified as Iraqis in the video: "Ali" and "Ukashah". (Funnily, the person who made the video mixed them up in their first shots, switching their names as they appear later on in the video and in the image where they're all pictured and named.) To me, Ali bears a close resemblance to al-Mohammad: cheekbones, lips, eyebrows, nose, facial hair pattern, mole on left cheek.
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Left: al-Mohammad border-crossing photo. Left-center: "Ali al-Iraqi". Right-center: al-Mohammad passport photo. Right: "Ali."
That would leave Ukashah as his traveling companion, M. al-Mahmod. It could just be the sun in the guy's face, the hair and the angle, but aside from their mouths they don't look like the same guy to me:

Same guy? Center: "M. al Mahmod". Right and Left: "Ukashah al-Iraqi".
With the exception of these two otherwise unknown Iraqis, most of the alleged attackers were previously known to the authorities, and several were said to have traveled to places like Syria to fight with Daesh. For example, Bilal Hadfi fought with ISIS in Syria for more than a year and supported Nigeria's Boko Haram. After returning to the EU (unbeknownst to EU authorities), he communicated with ISIS-in-Libya and posted pro-jihadi messages on social media. Samy Amimour fought in Yemen, and had been on the run from police since 2012 for terrorism-related charges. Omar Mosfefai also fought in Syria and was on a terrorist watch list. (He was allegedly identified by a severed finger found in the Bataclan.) Here's Mostefai, pre- and post-jihairdo:

Frenchman Omar Mostefai (AKA Abu Rayyan al-Faransi)
Like with Hadfi, the video shows Mostefai sadistically behead a man.

"The fate of every kafir"
The other suspect identified early on was Brahim Abdeslam (later revealed to have been a chronically jobless pot-head). He too appears in the video, as "Abul Qa'qa' al-Baljiki". Unlike the others, he doesn't kill anyone. Instead, he is simply shown practicing his shooting skills. Here he is:

Brahim Abdeslam (AKA Abul Qa’qa’ al-Baljiki). (Photos with hat are from the video)
There's something funny about the clip of this guy practicing. A figure appears in army fatigues who proceeds to train "Abul Qa'qa'" by pushing him around a bit. Oddly, this man is entirely blurred out. I'm guessing Daesh didn't want to show their American/NATO trainers on film. Bad for business, you know.

Americans can be so pushy.
That leaves one Frenchman and one Belgian: "Abu Fu'ad al-Faransi" and "Dhul-Qarnayn al-Baljiki". Almost a month after the attacks, the third Bataclan attacker was identified as Foued Mohamed-Aggad, a Moroccan Frenchman from Strasbourg who went to Syria in 2013.

Foued Mohamed-Aggad (AKA Abu Fu’ad al-Faransi). Tan hat images are from the new video.
The final suspect was only identified 10 days ago, on January 15, as Chakib Akrouh, a 25-year-old Moroccan Belgian, thought to be one of the bar/restaurant shooters, and who authorities say was the one who blew himself up during the St.-Denis raid. He was identified by DNA analysis.

Chakib Akrouh (AKA Dhul-Qarnayn al-Baljiki). (Hat photos are from the video.)
Funny that it was only after the 9th suspect was named that Daesh chose to release this video. Presumably the footage was available for months (at least since before October, when the Iraqis crossed into Greece) and possibly years (if some of the attackers were in Syria only in 2013). They could have released it to coincide with the attacks themselves, or just after. Instead they waited until each Belgian and French suspect was named.

Except for perhaps one of the Iraqis, these videos match up with the suspects publicly identified by French police. At the very least they show that the names released by authorities really were associated with ISIS. Unfortunately, what they don't do is confirm the actual story. As usual in terror cases like this the authorities have been extra stingy with releasing actual evidence to back up their claims. So skeptical observers can be forgiven for doubting even the most basic statements released by officials.

But there are still some problems. First, there were more than 9 people involved in the attacks. There still hasn't been any explanation for the clean-shaven, white, professional hit-men observed taking part in the bar/restaurant shootings. And as far as I know, eyewitnesses have yet to positively identify any of the suspects as the men they observed taking part in any of the attacks. That's not to say these men were not among those taking part in the attacks -- I have no problem accepting that this might be the case. But until more actual evidence is made public and confirmed by eyewitnesses, it's still premature to say it is definitely the case. The only footage I'm aware of is the gas station CCTV footage of Salah Abdeslam on his way back to Belgium, where he appears calm and collected.

Salah was first thought to have been involved in the bar and restaurant shootings, but now his role there seems to have been stolen by Abaaoud. Then there was the report of him being arrested during one of the raids in Belgium, which was later denied. He is still officially on the run. I wouldn't be surprised if he really was arrested (and killed), and the whole "terrorist on the loose" narrative is just a ploy to keep the media circus going and the populace afraid. And I wouldn't be surprised if he had little or nothing to do with the attacks: that he was just used to rent some cars and drive his brother and some friends into Paris. The Daesh video does not mention him.

Because of the lack of actual hard evidence, I have no way of judging the actual probabilities that these men were involved, or if a different group of men (in part or whole) participated in the attacks, the named suspects simply being known jihadists -- perhaps already dead -- whose identities were used as convenient placeholders for the real perps. Either way, there are still questions that need answering, as suggested by the report from Iraqi intelligence:
Speaking anonymously to AP, six senior Iraqi officials confirmed the information in the message, and four of those officials said they specifically warned France of a possible attack. ... The officials said the Paris attacks appear to have been planned in Raqqa, Syria - ISIS's de-facto capital - where the attackers planned specifically for the operation. After their training, the attackers traveled to France where they met with members of a sleeper cell who helped them carry out the deadly attacks. A total of 24 people were reportedly involved in the operation: 19 attackers and five others in charge of planning and logistics.
The bottom line is this: the new video shows that many of those identified by French authorities really did fight for ISIS or at the very least were hanging out with "ISIS" types in Syria or Iraq. They may also have carried out the Paris attacks. But this ignores the most important thing: that "ISIS" is a U.S. operation. Whether these guys knew it or not, their masters are from Washington and Tel Aviv. And their calls to Muslims around the world to take up arms has been an abject failure. Muslims are NOT carrying out terror attacks in droves.

The occasional mentally ill person gets caught up in police entrapment, or makes some ineffectual attack, but Westerners are not being "killed wherever they are".
And that's the way it will stay. The pathological minority among Muslims and non-Muslims who 'hear the call' will continue to be attracted to Syria or Iraq or Libya where they will be free to express the psychopathy that comes naturally to them, but by and large they will not sacrifice themselves by carrying out futile and self-defeating attacks on civilian populations in the Western world. They'd much rather take their chances on surviving where the real action is.

Missing from all mainstream analysis of "ISIS" over the past 2 years, is the hard, historical fact that, over the past 100 years, Western governments have repeatedly used proxy mercenary forces to achieve their military and geopolitical objectives. In many cases, Western governments publicly denounced those proxy mercenary forces as "terrorists" and even made a show of fighting against them.

If you understand nothing else about ISIS, understand this: it is vitally important to US and Western government strategy in the Middle East and beyond that the concept of crazy, radical headchopping Muslims be repeatedly catapulted into the minds of Western populations.

Now ask yourself, what is the best way to achieve this?

If you want your propaganda and lies to influence ordinary people in such a way that you can rely on them to instinctively react to a given cue, you have to subject them to direct, traumatic personal experience of the 'truth' of your propaganda and lies.

For example, if you've never had any contact with dogs and if I tell you that all dogs are dangerous creatures, you might accept what I say, but you won't necessarily believe it to the extent that I could rely on you to act on that information in a specific way. If, however, I manufacture a situation where I get a particularly nasty dog to bite you, you really don't need me to tell you that they are dangerous. If I follow up this experience by repeatedly reminding you of the experience, and send you literature about other people being bitten by dogs, then I will have created a person who can be relied on to have a very negative and instinctive reaction to dogs, or even the mention of them. And the truth that the vast majority of dogs are gentle and loving creatures will be unavailable to you. "ISIS" really is that simple.