Human Rights Watch, another nongovernmental watchdog group, reported that Islamic State has used cluster munitions in at least one location: in the town of Ayn Al-Arab, 80 miles northeast of Aleppo city. The use of such ordnance leaves many unexploded bomblets on the battlefield, posing a serious risk to civilians long after hostilities have ceased. The munitions, which eject smaller explosive bomblets over an area, were banned in 2010 through the Convention on Cluster Munitions, though many countries -- including the U.S.
The extremists who have seized large parts ofSyria and Iraq have riveted the world’s attention with their military prowess and unrestrained brutality. But Western intelligence services are also worried about their extraordinary command of seemingly less lethal weapons: state-of-the-art videos, ground images shot from drones and multilingual Twitter messages.
Australia has agreed to a U.S. request to help fly arms and munitions to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters battling Islamic State insurgents in northern Iraq, joining a coalition being assembled by Washington to mount what Prime Minister Tony Abbott called "humanitarian missions."
The proliferation of social media has brought extremist ideologues world-wide into closer and more personal contact with potential recruits than antiterror officials ever dreamed possible, but it also has handed Western investigators powerful new tools for tracking potential threats.
This week in PD, the world witnessed the propaganda of violent extremist groups, including the Islamic State.
The Islamic State’s “A Message to America,” showing American journalist James Foley’s final moments, is vile and horrifying. Significantly, unlike the early propaganda of Al Qaeda, this video is also professionally cut and edited. It is the sort of thing engineered to achieve rapid, viral spread on the open internet. It also represents the main weapon the Islamic State is increasingly employing to great effect against the West.
Every week residents in the town of Kafranbel in Idlib, north west Syria, release a photo or sign related to current events in an attempt to draw the world’s attention to the ongoing civil war in their country.
In addition to pictures of mass executions and beheading videos, the Islamic State also puts out propaganda magazines containing stories about stoning adulterers and joining the jihad — all wrapped in a package with high production values.