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Islamic State expanding globally amid setbacks: US official

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Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawla al-Salbi, the new leader of the Islamic State

The Islamic State group continues to expand globally with some 20 affiliates, despite being forced out of Syria and the killing of its leaders, a top US counter-terror official said Thursday.

The extremist group “has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to rebound from severe losses over the past six years by relying on a dedicated cadre of veteran mid-level commanders, extensive clandestine networks, and downturns in CT (counter-terrorism) pressure to persevere,” said Christopher Miller, director of the US National Counterterrorism Center.

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Since the October 2019 killing of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and several other prominent figures, new leader Mohammed Said Abd al-Rahman al-Mawla has been able to direct and inspire new attacks by its far-flung affiliates, Miller told a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.

On Thursday the group claimed responsibility for the killing of six French aid workers and their two local guides in Niger on August 9.

Inside Syria and Iraq, Miller said, IS has undertaken “a steady rate” of assassinations and mortar and IED bomb attacks.

Those included an operation in May that killed and wounded dozens of Iraqi soldiers.

Miller said the group trumpeted this success with graphic videos that served as propaganda to demonstrate the jihadists were still organized and active, since being uprooted from their self-proclaimed Syria-Iraq “caliphate” last year.

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He said that the group is now focused on freeing thousands of Islamic State members and their families from detention camps in northeastern Syria, in the absence of any coordinated international process to deal with them.

Outside Syria and Iraq, the IS global web “now encompasses approximately 20 branches and networks,” Miller said.

It has had mixed results, but is strongest in Africa, as the Niger attack underscored.

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Islamic State also seeks to attack Western targets, Miller says, but so far effective counter-terror work has prevented this.

IS rival Al Qaeda, which carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, was weakened by the loss of leaders and key figures, but remains potent, Miller said.

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The group is still determined to carry out attacks on the United States and Europe, he said, and was tied to the radicalized Saudi air force trainee who killed three sailors at a US military base in Pensacola, Florida, December 2019.

Al Qaeda’s affiliates in Yemen and Africa retain the ability to carry out deadly attacks, Miller said, but its sub-groups in India and Pakistan have been significantly weakened.

In Afghanistan its presence has declined to “a few dozen fighters who are primarily focused on their survival,” Miller said.

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Under a deal the Taliban signed with the United States in February, the insurgents agreed to stop Al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a safe haven to plot attacks.

However, despite the agreement, the jihadist group maintains close ties with the Afghan militants, the Pentagon said Wednesday.


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MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle: The markets finally realized the economic crisis is linked to the health crisis

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MSNBC market expert Stephanie Ruhle told Brian Williams on Wednesday that the reason Americans saw the stock market fall this week is that they have finally realized that things aren't getting any better.

Williams asked if the numbers this week are different from normal pre-election years.

"This is quite different," said Ruhle. "The markets have woken up to the fact that this health crisis is directly linked to the economic crisis. The markets can't thrive when we don't have a national plan to deal with the coronavirus. And you look at the GDP, you know that tomorrow, you led the show with it, the president is going to say, 'We're back, baby! With the greatest economy ever.' That's not the case. We have been seeing improvements. We are on the road to recovery. But even if we get 30 percent, 35 percent GDP, which would be positive, it's far from saying we're back."

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Stephen Colbert does hilarious MAGA-Frozen parody after Trump fans were abandoned in the Omaha cold

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Those who've been subjected to "Let it Go" from the Pixar film "Frozen," for the past decade will recognize the new tune from "A Late Show" host Stephen Colbert.

"MAGA Frozen" celebrates those who could lose a toe to the tune of "Let it Go."

"The MAGA rally just ended tonight,He danced to YMCA.His campaign bussed me out hereBut the ticket was one-way.Extremities have all gone numb,All to watch Trump attack Biden's son.My feet can't feel severe frostbite.I think I might,Lose a toe,Lose a toe,Left foot will have only four.Lose a toe,Lose a toe,My choice of footwear was poor.Obamacare will cover my stay.Oh, wait, Barrott got confirmed.Might have to sell this tiara on eBay."

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2020 Election

Brett Kavanaugh revised his Wisconsin ruling after Vermont official’s demands — but it still contains the lies

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Supreme Court Justice revised his Wisconsin opinion after a Vermont official complained that he misrepresented the way the state dealt with the election amid the pandemic. The problem, however, is that his corrections only cleaned up the sloppy language.

While it no longer appears like a high school mock trial assignment, it still lies about the example he gave in the Vermont details.

https://twitter.com/Jordan_S_Rubin/status/1321628261714190336

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