Here's the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online - We Are The Mighty
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Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online

The US and other Western countries have been alarmed at how the Islamic State militant group has been able to lure teenagers and young people to the Middle East to join its ranks.


Rukmini Callimachi of The New York Times recently wrote about a 23-year-old American woman from Washington state who has been communicating with Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh) recruiters online.

The woman, “Alex,” showed Callimachi the messages and reading materials these recruiters had sent her, and their approach to grooming her seems textbook.

The Times notes that the tactics are similar to those laid out in an Al Qaeda manual called “A Course in the Art of Recruiting.” Though ISIS and Al Qaeda are now two separate organizations, ISIS recruiters seem to follow many of the same basic guidelines for luring people into their group and indoctrinating them. And with the rise of social media, reaching these recruits across the globe has become even easier.

The ISIS recruiters Alex connected with through social media built their relationships with her slowly. They started off by talking to her about Islam and gradually indoctrinated her to believe that the Western media had exaggerated ISIS atrocities.

While Al Qaeda seemed more cautious about whom it recruited, ISIS is more open. Its members communicate with people online, many of whom have never been to Muslim countries, and also target women, whom they marry to ISIS fighters in Syria and elsewhere.

Here’s a look at what the Al Qaeda training manual says about recruiting:

Extremists seek out non-religious people.

From the manual: “You should take precautions against the religious people whom you invite, because maybe they will reject the da’wa (invitation) and end up being the reason for our defeat.”

ISIS looks to manipulate those who are vulnerable and searching for meaning in their lives. Those who don’t know much about Islam can be easier to indoctrinate and less likely to push back on what they’re told.

The manual says nonreligious Muslim youths are preferred: “This is because you will be the one to guide him (i.e., this nonreligious Muslim) to the right path; and you can choose who you want to be with you in your brigade, God willing. This sector (contains candidates) without limit, especially the youths, who are the safest people (for recruitment), and all praise be to Allah. However, we must be careful, too.”

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
A young ISIS supporter in Raqqa, Syria, in August. Photo: Youtube Screenshot/ Vice News

They also seek out students and people who are isolated, living away from big cities.

Jihadists go after people in isolated areas because they “have a natural disposition for the religion and it is easy to convince them and to shape them,” according to the manual.

High-school and college students are also prime targets. From the manual:

The university is like a place of isolation for a period of four, five, or six years and is full of youths (full of zeal, vigor, and anti-government sentiments). However, you should be careful because it is also full of spies.

[High school students] are young but tomorrow they will be adults, so if you don’t give them da’wa some one else will (but it will be for materialistic goals). However, don’t be in a hurry because haste in this matter might destroy the da’wa. The merits of this sector: 1. Often they have pure minds; 2. It is very safe to deal with them because they are not likely to be spies, especially after they pass the stage of individual da’wa.

The recruitment starts subtly as to not scare the person away.

“Be careful of talking about the problems of the Muslims from the beginning (of the relationship) so as not to make the relationship appear as your recruiting him,” the manual says. “He will say to himself, ‘you are doing all of this with me, just to recruit me, etc.’ Also, don’t rush anything because there will be a proper time for everything.

“Be careful not to talk about Al Qaeda, Salafi Jihadis, or any specific jihadi group in the first stages, but the da’ee (preacher) should speak about the mujahideen and the resistance fighters in general, because maybe this candidate loves the mujahideen but the media has distorted their image, especially Al Qaeda.”

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
A book that an ISIS recruiter gave a 23-year-old woman in Washington state Photo: Screenshot / The New York Times

They ply recruits with jihadist propaganda.

“You should also make a schedule for him to listen to at least one lecture daily,” the manual says. “These lectures, books, and pamphlets must become his best friends.”

The manual also advises sending Islamic books and lectures on CDs. There’s a list of recommended reading, but the manual says recruiters shouldn’t show candidates any jihadi videos “except when his iman (faith) is at a high level, and when he is in a state of tranquility in order to have the best effect on him and on his heart.”

They exploit tragedies.

The manual tells recruiters to “use current events and/or horrible occasions (i.e., the siege of Gaza) to comment and explain the situation of the Muslims (according to the Islamic perspective).”

“Make most of your speech about Palestine,” the manual instructs. “This is because there is no disagreement (amongst the scholars and Muslims) about it, and it is dear to the Islamic nation. Also the rest of the arenas of Jihad have been distorted and misrepresented by the media in different percentages (i.e., the Jihad in Islamic Morocco has been greatly distorted, but the Jihad in Chechnya has been partially distorted).”

They become close to the recruits and strike up a friendship with them.

The manual advises: “Help to fulfill his needs. Be good with him even if he does something to harm/offend you, because everybody likes the person who does something good for them. Listen to him to get to know more about his personality. Take part with him in his good and bad times.”

Recruiters also stay in close contact — the manual instructs them to make sure they don’t go more than one week without reaching out to their recruit.

They reinforce the person’s good qualities and remind them of Islamic “paradise.”

From the manual: “Get to know his good morals and manners and praise them in front of him; also, tie these good morals and manners to Islam (i.e., make sure you explain to the candidate that his good morals and manners are found and promoted in Islam).

“Focus on At-Targheeb (teachings of the desiring for Paradise), but don’t completely leave At-Tarheeb (teachings of the terrifying punishments of the Hellfire). (You should spend more time reminding the candidate of Paradise and how to get there, than about Hellfire.)”

Once recruiters establish relationships with recruits, they start talking about jihad.

“The candidate should get to know most of the hadith of Jihad and Martyrdom by any means, until he desires and hopes for this,” the manual says. “This usually happens to the one who fears the punishments in the Hereafter. And when he knows that Jihad will rescue him from the horror of the Day of Judgment, the result will be that he desires and hopes for Jihad.”

During this stage, the recruiter also makes sure the recruit adheres to prayer times and reads the Quran.

They control the message.

Recruiters make sure not to veer off-message. They want to avoid creating doubt in the recruit.

The manual says an entrance could be made “through Current affairs; who knows, maybe a big operation will be performed in the near future.”

It continues:

A lot of Mujahideen brothers have had dreams about big operations. Also maybe more defamation against the Messenger (sws) will occur (so you can take advantage of this situation to speak about Jihad to the candidate). Or the candidate might see a meeting of the Mujahideen on any T.V. station, so you can let him hear this meeting which might cause him to love the Mujahideen.

Or you can let him watch a Jihad documentary on any TV Station (i.e. al Jazeera), such as documentaries on the Jihad in Iraq. Or you can let him watch documentaries on the lives of Mujahideen leaders, etc. All of this must bring about a benefit in the da’wa (calling) him to Jihad. And do your best to deter him from the TV channels of the hypocrites, like Al I’briya and others, as well as from any other media distortions (about Jihad).

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
Photo: Youtube Screenshot/ Business Insider

“I say this about your coalition: you threaten us with your countries, bring every nation that you wish to us, bring every nation that you want to come and fight us. Whether it’s 50 nations or 50,000 nations it means nothing to us.”

ISIS is steadily attempting to build a “caliphate,” an Islamic empire that aims to unite the world’s Muslims under a single religious and political entity, in the Middle East, and the group has already seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria.

ISIS governs its territory according to a strict interpretation of Sharia law and convinces its recruits that they must move to the caliphate if they are able, lest they live among the “infidels” who persecute them in the West.

Westerners who convert to Islam to join ISIS are particularly valuable to the group because of the worldwide headlines they garner in the media.

ISIS plays the propaganda game well and sees recruitment as essential to the long-term survival of the group.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

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Afghan Interpreters Risked Their Lives For Us — Now We’re Abandoning Them

airaslt (powers w elders) A U.S. Army company commander uses one of his interpreters to consult with tribal elders in a village in Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan following an air assault. (Photo: Ward Carroll)


It was early morning, still dark at Fort Bragg when one of my teammates called from Afghanistan with bad news.

“Both Juma and Ish have been killed,” he said, without any attempt to hide the fact that he’d been crying.

It was May 2006, and the bulk of our unit was one month away from another deployment to Afghanistan. Two of our best interpreters had been stopped at a Taliban checkpoint. A fighter recognized them. He knew they’d been working with the Americans. Their bodies were found the next morning, brutally tortured and mutilated.

Also Read: This Powerful Film Tells How Marines Fought ‘One Day Of Hell’ In Fallujah 

I went numb as the words continued through the phone. I scrambled for a note pad to try to capture all the information. It was too much to process. As soon as everyone mustered in the team room, I broke the news. The impact was immediate. To us, it was no different than losing a fellow American soldier.

Congress has authorized 8,750 visas for Afghan interpreters, but only 1,982 have been issued through December, according to the Los Angeles Times. Thousands of interpreters are in jeopardy as the State Department tries to clear the logjam of applications for the Special Immigrant Visa.

The Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, which also assists Afghan refugees, told the Times the SIV process is “prohibitively complicated, bureaucratic and opaque.” The group ran into the same problem at the end of the Iraq War when only slightly more than 6,500 out of 25,000 visas were issued to Iraqi interpreters.

As a Special Forces officer with eight deployments, I can tell you without a doubt that Afghans who have risked their lives, families and futures are going to be left behind to face horrific consequences, like Juma and Ish did, for aiding the United States.

This will have a lasting impact on future wars and U.S. strategic interests. As American forces track terrorists in the Arabian Peninsula and across the African continent, we will need local assistance at many levels, specifically interpreters. Leaving our Afghan allies to die is a clear warning to anyone who would even think about assisting the US in its foreign policy or strategy that unless you are on the Department of State or CIA payroll, you will be left to die.

Interpreters are our eyes and ears when deployed. They know the local customs, cultural norms and religion. They can see when things are out of place and they understand the nuisance of the villages and tribes. When American forces arrived in Afghanistan in 2001, we knew nothing. Our interpreters have kept us safe and even helped us fight. But they also became part of our units, teams and families.

Take Jerry for example.

Jerry (a nickname we gave him) was my personal interpreter during Operation Medusa, the largest Coalition operation in ISAF history. A 22-year-old kid, he emulated our speech, dressed in our uniform and even chewed neswar, the Afghan version of Copenhagen, like the other members of the team.

Prior to the mission, he had gotten married. We told him he could sit this operation out since we knew it was going to be very dangerous and he was a newlywed.

“I don’t think so, my brother,” he said in Pashtu.

Jerry liked to make me practice my Pashtu so that I understood what was being said in tribal meetings behind my back. I remember him smiling like a Cheshire cat, his short thick beard and black curly hair sticking out from under the Special Forces ball cap I had given him as he said, “If you go, I go. If you die, I die.”

Two months after the battle, we were maneuvering thru a village when the vehicle Jerry was riding in struck an IED. As I approached the mangled truck, the first thing I saw in the dirt was Jerry’s burned ball cap.

I turned to go call in a Medevac. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jerry struggling to stand against a mud wall. In spite of the fact that he had been blown nearly 30 feet in to the air, he was holding his broken weapon and pulling security.

His scrawny legs wobbled in misery. He was bloody and covered in dirt. He lived up to his promise to die with us. I made the commitment then and there that I would not leave him, nor the others interpreters like him behind.

Since I left Afghanistan in 2012, Jerry has been attacked in his mosque, moved his family nearly a dozen times and survived being shot three times. His last email to me was a desperate plea.

“I’m 24-hour in house not coming out like jailer, bro,” he wrote. “Thanks again for keeping asking me, brother. I wish I didn’t have my two daughters suffer if I die. I would be (in) paradise if I see you in the State with my Family. Please help us.”

I’ve written letters, emails, and made hundreds of phone calls trying to pry loose a half dozen applications of interpreters I worked with in Afghanistan. I feel betrayed by the American immigration policy and the deadly double standard it represents. We will accept immigrants who snuck across our borders illegally but not heroes who have served our nation and its cause.

Afghan Interpreters are throwing themselves at the altar of freedom only to be left to die. To State Department bureaucrats, these men are pieces of paper, but to thousands of American soldiers, they are brothers in arms.

They should be allowed to live in peace and freedom. They’ve earned it.

NOW: The Mighty Taps: 9 Famous Veterans Who Died In 2014

OR: Brigade Combat Team Is Headed To Iraq To Do Everything But Engage In Combat 

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US officials warn that North Korea will test another missile soon

North Korea has made preparations for yet another missile test within the coming days, US officials have told Fox News.


“The test could come as early as the end of the month,” said an unnamed official. Another official told Fox that a US WC-135 Constant Phoenix “nuclear sniffer” plane would patrol the area to detect possible nuclear activity.

The Pentagon, as well as its Japanese and South Korean counterparts, has been closely monitoring North Korea after a string of high-profile and alarming moves within its nuclear infrastructure.

Related: How China could potentially stop a US strike on North Korea — without starting World War III

Most recently, Japan detected two missile launches in North Korea that exploded “within seconds” after takeoff, CNN reported. Before that, North Korea tested a “saturation attack” — a salvo of four missiles meant to overwhelm US and allied missile defenses — with much more success.

Jeffrey Lewis, founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk, told Business Insider that North Korea’s ultimate intention with its nuclear program is to create a thermonuclear weapon that can hit the mainland US.

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
The test-fire of Pukguksong-2. This photo was released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on February 13. | KCNA/Handout

The increased pace of tests in 2017 shows North Korea is perhaps more serious than ever about hitting this goal, which it is increasingly moving closer to achieving.

Meanwhile, the US has openly floated military action against North Korea, which experts tell Business Insider could easily cost millions of lives and result in the first use of nuclear weapons since World War II.

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6 badass military quotes created by combat

The only things more badass than these quotes were the actions that followed them.


1. “Just hold the phone and I’ll let you talk to one of the bastards!” – Maj. Audie Murphy, U.S. Army

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online


In January 1945, while fighting to reduce the Colmar Pocket, then-Lt. Audie Murphy led the depleted B Company, 15th Infantry Regiment in an attack on the town of Holtzwihr. The attack quickly ran into stiff resistance from German armor and infantry. Lt. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw while he held his position to continue to call in artillery on the advancing Germans. The Germans were nearly on top of him, but he continued to call for fire. Fearful of firing on their own soldier, headquarters asked Murphy how close the enemy was, to which he replied: “Just hold the phone and I’ll let you talk to one of the bastards!” During the same engagement, Lt. Murphy mounted a burning tank destroyer and drove off the Germans with its .50 caliber machine gun and continued artillery fire. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

2. “I have not yet begun to fight!” – John Paul Jones, U.S. Navy

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online

When John Paul Jones sailed the USS Bonhomme Richard against the HMS Serapis in 1779, he was already famous in the Continental Navy for his daring in the capture of the HMS Drake. Although outgunned by the Serapis, Jones attempted to run alongside and lash the ships together, thus negating the advantage. The Bonhomme Richard took a beating, which prompted the British captain to offer to allow Jones to surrender. His reply would echo in eternity: “I have not yet begun to fight!” And he hadn’t – after more brutal fighting, with Jones’ ship sinking and his flag shot away, the British captain called out if he had struck his colors. Jones shouted back “I may sink, but I will never strike!” After receiving assistance from another ship, the Americans captured the Serapis. Unfortunately, the Bonhomme Richard was beyond salvage and sank.

3. “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?!” – Sgt. Maj. Dan Daly, USMC

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online

Then-1st Sgt Dan Daly was leading the 73rd Machine Gun Company at the Battle of Belleau Wood. He already had two Medals of Honor and cemented his place in Marine Corps history by then. Always tough and tenacious in the face of the enemy, Daly inspired his men to charge the Germans by jumping up and yelling “Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?!” The Marines attacked the woods six times before the Germans fell back. Daly was awarded a Navy Cross for his actions during the battle.

4. “I’m the 82nd Airborne and this is as far as the bastards are going.” – Pvt. 1st Class Martin, U.S. Army

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online

As Christmas 1944 approached, the American forces in the Ardennes Forest were still in disarray and struggling to hold back the German onslaught. Versions of the story vary, but what is known is that retreating armor came upon a lone infantryman of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment digging a foxhole. He was scruffy, dirty, and battle-hardened. When he realized the retreating armor were looking for a safe place, he told them, “Well buddy, just pull that vehicle behind me. I’m the 82nd Airborne and this is as far as the bastards are going.” They would indeed hold the line before driving the Germans back over the next several weeks.

5. “You’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!” – Col. Henry P. Crowe, USMC

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online

Henry Crowe is known in the Marine Corps for his time as a Marine Gunner and his exploits in combat. He first displayed his gallantry at Guadalcanal while leading the Regimental Weapons Company of the 8th Marines. While engaged in fierce fighting with the Japanese, then-Capt. Crowe leaped up and yelled “Goddammit, you’ll never get a Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!” before leading a charge against Japanese positions. He received a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his actions on Guadalcanal and later a Navy Cross for his actions on Tarawa.

6. “Retreat, Hell!” – A number of American badasses who were told to retreat

Americans troops hate to retreat and traditionally respond with “Retreat, Hell!” when told that they should. Here are three of the most badass examples:

Maj. Lloyd W. Williams, USMC

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online

The Battle of Belleau Wood had no shortage of hardcore Marines making a name for the Corps (literally, the moniker ‘Devil Dog’ is attributed to the battle) and then-Capt. Lloyd Williams set the tone from day one. As the French were falling back in the face of a German assault, they came across a Marine officer of the 5th Marine Regiment advancing on Belleau Wood. A frantic French officer advised the American that they must retreat. Not one to shy away from a fight, Capt. Williams responded “Retreat, Hell! We just got here!” Capt. Williams was killed in the fighting nine days later but posthumously received the Distinguished Service Cross and a promotion to Major.

Col. Rueben H. Tucker, U.S. Army

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online

After the initial assault landings at Salerno in September 1943, the Allied beachhead was in a precarious position. The 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment conducted a combat jump to reinforce allied lines and moved out to the high ground at Altavilla to shore up the line. When a strong German counterattack threatened to dislodge the paratroopers, Gen. Dawley, VI Corps commander, called Col. Tucker and ordered his withdrawal. He vehemently replied “Retreat, Hell! Send me my 3rd Battalion!” 3/504 went in support and the regiment held the line.

Gen. Oliver P. Smith, USMC

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir is a story of incredible toughness and tenacity by American forces, particularly the 1st Marine Division. Chesty Puller had his own memorable quotes during the battle, but it was 1st Marine Division commander Oliver P. Smith who reiterated American resolve and refusal to retreat when he said “Retreat, Hell! We’re just advancing in a different direction!” And he meant it – the 1st Marine Division broke through the encirclement and fought its way to evacuation at Hungnam.

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Sebastian Junger’s new book “Tribe” is nothing short of a lesson for all Americans

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
Sebastian Junger embedded with Army troops at Combat Outpost Restrepo In Eastern Afghanistan. (Photo: Vanity Fair)


Sebastian Junger spent nearly twenty years writing about dangerous professions, most notably those surrounding war and other conflicts. Although he retired from war reporting after longtime collaborator Tim Hetherington was killed during the Libyan Civil War, he has a lot of experiences on which to reflect. In his new book, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, he contextualizes a life spent close to death and danger and provides lessons for modern societies that have struggled with the fact that technological improvements and material wealth haven’t necessarily made their populations happier.

Tribe is the 54-year-old Junger’s own homecoming of sorts. He was a Vanity Fair contributor when he spent time in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, which was also his first collaboration with photographer Tim Hetherington. That collaboration led to three films based on the pair’s time in the valley: “Restrepo,” “Korengal,” and “The Last Patrol,” as well as Junger’s book, War. After Hetherington was killed in Misrata, Libya in 2011, Junger produced “Which Way is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington” for HBO documentary films.

Junger’s lifetime of covering conflict led him to write Tribe, the theme of which is how modern society has isolated individuals and marginalized the value of groups – a phenomenon to which returning warfighters can relate. Junger notes there are positive effects of war on mental health and long-term resilience, using examples of war trauma from Sri Lanka to Israel and Liberia to Cote d’Ivoire to illustrate the effects of war. He explains the utility of the “shared public meaning” and why it’s crucial for warriors to return to a society that understands them. He argues that “honoring” veterans at sporting events, letting uniformed service people board planes first, and formulaic phrases like “thank you for your service” only serve to deepen the divide between the military and civilians by highlighting the fact that some serve and some don’t.

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
Junger’s main discussion about combat veterans is that they require three things: a society that is egalitarian and gives them the chance to succeed, to not be seen as victims, and to feel as necessary and productive as they were on the battlefield. According to his findings, the U.S. ranks very low on all of these because there’s no cultural perception of any shared responsibility. The shared responsibility of the whole for the one is what Tribe is all about.

The book isn’t about just veterans or victims of conflict. The recurrence and spread of individualism have an effect on all of us. Junger delves into the history of the native tribes of the United States to illustrate his points: tribal societies were more socially progressive and conscious of the suffering of its members, especially those who went to war. Collective societies tended to be happier units because they cultivated collectivized happiness. Everyone in a tribe has a role to play, and everyone feels useful.

Sebastian Junger’s newest book isn’t about veterans, but Tribe is full of lessons all veterans should heed when seeking their tribes. More broadly, Tribe’s lessons should be heeded by the entire nation, especially during this election season that seems to be more divisive with each step in the process of finding those who would lead us in bringing us all together.

For more information on Sebastian Junger and “Tribe” visit www.sebastianjunger.com.

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North Korea actually fired a missile that worked

As 80,000 U.S. and South Korean troops practice fighting a North Korean invasion during military exercises this month, the North successfully launched a submarine-based ballistic missile that regional leaders call a “grave threat to security.”


The launch of a “Pukguksong” KN-11 missile took place on August 24, with South Korean government estimates indicating the missile could be ready to deploy aboard North Korean subs as early as next year.

The KN-11’s range is unknown.

The North’s submarine was just off of Sinpo, on the east coast of the country. It flew 500 kilometers (roughly 310 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan. The South Korean military believes it could strike twice as far.

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
(North Korea state media)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the test-firing proved the DPRK “joined the front rack of the military powers fully equipped with nuclear attack capability,” and “the U.S. mainland and military bases in the Asia Pacific are now within the striking range of the DPRK’s military,” according to the North’s official news service..

Related: New study says North Korea uses war games as an excuse to be difficult

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
(North Korea state media)

The missile fell inside Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zone. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the launch a “grave threat to security” and lodged a strong diplomatic protest.

It was the North’s “greatest success and victory,” Kim said in a statement.

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
(North Korea state media)

The North previously tested a missile on July 8, the day after South Korea and the United States announced the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile systems in the South.

The missile gives North Korea a “second strike” capability, meaning the north could launch a retaliation of the U.S. and South Korea preemptively destroyed its land-based nuclear sites.

North Korean submarines are electric powered and must surface to recharge their batteries. This limits their range, preventing the subs from maneuvering undetected within launching distance of the American west coast.

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Why Iran is ‘playing with fire’ in the Persian Gulf against US Navy ships

For the fifth time in about a month Iranian fast-attack craft have harassed US Navy ships with “unsafe and unprofessional” maneuvers at sea in the gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iran.


While experts acknowledge that Iran is “playing with fire” against the best navy in the world, don’t expect these incidents to stop any time soon.

“The number of unsafe, unprofessional interactions for first half of the year is nearly twice as much as same period in 2015, trend has continued. There’s already more in 2016 than all of 2015,” Commander Bill Urban of the Navy’s 5th fleet told Business Insider in a phone interview.

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
Iranian fast-attack boats during a naval exercise in 2015. | Wikimedia photo by Sayyed Shahaboddin Vajedi

Urban stressed that despite the Iranian navy fast-attack craft being several orders of magnitude less potent than US Navy ships, the threat they pose in the gulf is very real.

“Any time another vessel is charging in on one of your ships and they’re not talking on the radio … you don’t know what their intentions are,” said Urban.

Urban confirmed that Iran sends small, fast attack ships to “swarm” and “harass” larger US Naval vessels that could quite easily put them at the bottom of the ocean, but the ships pose a threat beyond firepower.

According to Urban, these ships are “certainly armed vessels with crew-manned weapons, not unarmed ships. I wouldn’t discount the ability to be a danger. A collision at sea even with a much larger ship is always something that could cause damage to a ship or injure personnel.”

In the most recent episode at sea, Urban said that an Iranian craft swerved in front of the USS Firebolt, a US Coastal Patrol craft, and stopped dead in its path, causing the Firebolt to have to adjust course or risk collision.

“This kind of provocative, harassing technique risks escalation and miscalculation.”

The messages Iran wants to send

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
Picture of US Sailors captured by Iranian fast-attack craft in the Gulf. | Released by Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Jan. 13, 2016.

“In my view, Khamenei (Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic) decided it’s time to send a message — I’m here and I’m unhappy,” Cliff Kupchan, Chairman of Eurasia Group and expert on Iran, told Business Insider in a phone interview.

According to Kupchan, the Iranian navy carries out these stunts under directions straight from the top because of frustrations with the Iran nuclear deal. Despite billions of dollars in sanction relief flowing into Iran following the deal, Kupchan says Iran sees the US as “preventing European and Asian banks from moving into Iran and financing Iranian businesses,” and therefore not holding up their end of the Iran nuclear deal.

But despite their perception that the US has under delivered on the promises of the Iran nuclear deal, Kupchan says Iran will absolutely not walk away from the deal, which has greatly improved their international standing and financial prospects.

The lifting of sanctions on Iran’s oil has resulted in “billions in additional revenue … They’re not gonna walk away from that.”

So Iran seems to be simply spinning their wheels to score political points with hardliners, but what if the worst happens and there is a miscalculation in a conflict between Iranian and US naval vessels resulting in the loss of life?

Here’s the manual that Al Qaeda and ISIS use to brainwash people online
The coastal patrol ship USS Squall, one of the ships harassed by the Iranians. | US Navy photo by Mass Communications Specialist Michelle Turner

“The concern is miscalculation,” said Kupchan. “Some guy misjudges the speed of his boat, people could die. There is a lot on the line.”

According to Kupchan, as well as other experts on the subject, Iran’s navy doesn’t stand a serious chance against modern US Navy ships.

“Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps boats and the Iranian Navy are not very capable or modern,” said Kupchan. The fast-attack craft we’ve seen challenge US Navy boats have simply been older speed boats, some Russian-made, outfitted with guns.

The Iranian craft can certainly bother US Navy ships by risking collisions and functioning as “heavily armed gnats, or mosquitoes” that swarm US ships, but a recent test carried out by the Navy confirms that the gunships wouldn’t have much trouble knocking them out of the water. The ensuing international incident, however, would dominate headlines for weeks.

“The wood is dry in US and Iranian relations,” said Kupchan, suggesting that a small miscalculation could spark a major fire, and that harassing these ships is “one of the ways the Iranian political system lets off steam.”

“Hardliners on both sides would go nuts,” said Kupchan, referencing both the conservative Islamist Iranians and the conservative US hawks who would not pass up any opportunity to impinge Obama over his perceived weakness against the Iranians.

Yet Kupchan contends that even a lethal incident would not end the deal. Both sides simply have too much riding on the deal’s success: Obama with his foreign policy legacy, and Iran with their financial redemption and status in the region as the main adversary to Western powers.

However Iran’s Khamenei may be sending a second message to incoming US leadership, specifically Hillary Clinton, who seems likely to be the next commander in chief. “They know Clinton is tough,” said Kupchan, and Khamenei may be addressing Clinton with a second message, saying “Madame Secretary, I’m still here, I know you’re tough, but I’m ready.”

For now, Kupchan expects these incidents at sea to carry on as Iran vents about their larger frustrations, and that a violent exchange would “not be the end of the deal,” or the start of a larger war, “but a serious international incident.”

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The first US troops to fight for America did it on this day in 1775

There has long been a dispute between the towns of Lexington and Concord over which fight sparked the Revolution, but the first shots were fired at Lexington, which was less of a battle and more of a massacre. The debate was so fierce that President Ulysses Grant almost avoided the centennial celebrations there to avoid the issue. Taken together, however, there is little doubt that the spark of the Revolution started on this day in April, 1775.


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The Battles of Lexington and Concord were the first military engagements of the American Revolution, pitting members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony militia against British regular army forces. The militia was not under the royal governor, but controlled by the rebel Massachusetts Provincial Congress.

Seven hundred British troops were dispatched from Tory-held Boston to capture and destroy rebel arsenals at Concord, Mass. The rebels knew the British would come and had already moved the weapons and supplies. The British force moved through Lexington on the way to Concord.

At first light on April 19, 1775, the Redcoats met some 70 colonial militiamen moving into ranks on the local common. They were vastly outnumbered. Their commander, John Parker, was not willing to risk his men at such odds, and so placed them in formation, but not blocking the road to Concord. He ordered his men not to fire unless fired upon.

Rather than just march on to Concord, a British Marine lieutenant led his men onto Lexington Common to disarm the militia. Instead of disarming, the colonists moved to disperse. That’s when a shot rang out from an unknown source. Before this encounter, there was no war declared in the colonies. The British had come and gone to seize arms and supplies many times, retreating back to the major cities each time. This time was different.

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The idea of Americans in open rebellion against the British Crown was likely a shock to the subject of the British Empire. At the time of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the British controlled territory on every inhabitable continent across the globe. Down on Lexington Common, however, those opening salvos left eight Americans dead and an equal number injured, along with one injured British regular. The engagement soured the chances of reconciliation between the colonies and the Crown.

The British would continue to Concord, where the Battle of North Bridge in Concord would kill two colonists and three Redcoats. The British retreated all the way back to Boston and were harassed by colonial militias the entire way home.

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Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson composed the “Concord Hymn” in 1837, immortalizing the two events for the unveiling of a battle monument at Concord’s North Bridge.

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood/Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled/Here once the embattled farmers stood/And fired the shot heard round the world.”

This story would one day lead to the defeat of the British at the hands of a Franco-American force, the birth of America, and eventually, School House Rock.

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The US Navy has new eyes in the sky out in the Pacific

Okay let’s be honest, it’s the combat planes that get most of the attention.


What airplane did “Top Gun” turn into a star? The F-14 Tomcat. “Iron Eagle’s” sex appeal came from the spritely F-16 Fighting Falcon. Even “Flight of the Intruder” made the portly A-6 Intruder attack plane the belle of the ball.

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An E-2D Hawkeye and a C-2A Greyhound assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 fly over USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) as the ship travels to its new home port of San Diego, California. Zumwalt was commissioned in Baltimore, Maryland, Oct. 15 and is the first in a three-ship class of the Navy’s newest, most technologically advanced multi-mission guided-missile destroyers. (U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

So, where does that leave some of the support planes? Out in the cold, and that just ain’t fair.

A Navy release on Oct. 21 centers on one of the most important planes in a carrier’s air wing – the E-2 Hawkeye airborne radar and control plane. Specifically, the new E-2D, which is making its Pacific Fleet debut with Air Wing 11 on board USS Nimitz (CVN 68), is a game-changer for the Sea Service.

The E-2D made its debut with the fleet last year with VAW-125 when USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) deployed to the Middle East, Mediterranean Sea, and in the Western Pacific.

The E-2 has been in service since 1964 – sharing the same airframe as the C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery, or “COD,” aircraft. Initially, it used the AN/APS-138 radar, which was later replaced with the AN/APS-145.  The E-2C entered service in 1971, and since then has been continuously upgraded.

The E-2D, though, adds a new radar, the AN/APY-9. This Active Electronically Scanned Array radar not only provides more detection capability, it makes it harder for an opposing plane to know if it is being seen.

The E-2D has far more than better eyes, though. It also can help guide missiles like the AIM-120 AMRAAM and the RIM-174 SM-6 against aerial targets.

But wait, there’s more! The E-2D also has some other upgrades that will help make this plane even more of a game-changer than it was before. It will gain a mid-air refueling capability, enabling it to stay aloft longer. It also will feature a glass cockpit, which not only improves situational awareness for the crew, but will allow the plane’s co-pilot to serve as a tactical controller in emergencies.

So, give the E-2 its due. Without this plane, it’s a safe bet that Maverick and Iceman would probably have no idea where the bandits were until it was too late.

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The US just held back $255 million in aid from this key ally

The United States is withholding a $255 million military aid payment from Pakistan until it cracks down on what President Donald Trump has called “safe havens” for anti- Afghanistan militant groups, officials said.


State Department officials said on August 31 that the funds won’t be released from an escrow account until the United States sees that Pakistan is moving against the Afghan Taliban and allied groups like the Haqqani network that U.S. intelligence agencies say have resided for years withinPakistan’s borders.

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DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

Pakistan has denied that it harbors terrorists and has said the United States is using Islamabad as a “scapegoat” for its own failure to win the 16-year war in Afghanistan.

The new U.S. stance toward Pakistan prompted a protest resolution in the Pakistani parliament this week as well as anti- U.S. protests in the streets that Pakistani police had to disperse using tear gas.

In announcing the new strategy last week, Trump said “we have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting… That will have to change.”

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120229-A-8536E-817 U.S. Army soldiers prepare to conduct security checks near the Pakistan border at Combat Outpost Dand Patan in Afghanistan’s Paktya province on Feb. 29, 2012. The soldiers are paratroopers assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Epperson, U.S. Army. (Released)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the time that the administration was considering curtailing aid, severing Pakistan’s status as a major non- NATO ally, and even hitting Islamabad for the first time with sanctions, unless it tackles anti-Afghan militant groups within its borders.

“We’re going to be conditioning our support for Pakistan and our relationship with them on them delivering results in this area,” Tillerson said.

To Pakistan’s alarm, Trump also floated the possibility of inviting India – Pakistan’s archrival – to get more involved in Afghanistan unless Pakistan is more cooperative.

The administration’s notification to Congress of an indefinite “pause” in installments on a $1.1 billion military assistance package for Pakistan represented the administration’s first step to make good on those promised measures.

The United States has sought before to use aid to Pakistan as well as U.S. weapons sales as leverage to secure Islamabad’s cooperation onAfghanistan.

Pakistan maintains that it already is doing everything it can to eliminate terrorists in the country, and has been more successful at doing so than its next-door neighbor, Afghanistan, even with the help of thousands of NATO and U.S. troops.

Moreover, Pakistan has complained that the United States does not appreciate the sacrifices Islamabad has made by joining the U.S. antiterror campaign, which Islamabad said has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers.

With reporting by AP and New York Times

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Navy ship defense weapon upgraded to destroy small boats

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The U.S. Navy is pursuing a massive, fleet-wide upgrade of a shipboard defensive weapon designed to intercept and destroy approaching or nearby threats such as enemy small boats, cruise missiles and even low-flying drones and aircraft, service officials said.

The Phalanx Close in Weapons System, or CIWS, is an area weapon engineered to use a high rate of fire and ammunition to blanket a given area, destroying or knocking enemy fire out of the sky before it can reach a ship. The Phalanx CIWS, which can fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute, has been protecting ship platforms for decades.

The weapon is designed to counter incoming enemy attacks from missiles, small arms fire, drones, enemy aircraft and small boats, among other things. It functions as part of an integrated, layered defense system in order to intercept closest-in threats, service officials explained.

“Phalanx provides a ‘last ditch’ gun-based, close-in defense to the Navy’s concept of layered defense,” Navy spokesman Dale Eng told Scout Warrior.

The weapon is currently on Navy cruisers, destroyers, aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, among other vessels. The upgrades are designed to substantially increase capability and ensure that the system remains viable in the face of a fast-changing and increasingly complex threat environment, Navy officials said.

The overhaul in recent years has consisted of numerous upgrades to the weapon itself, converting the existing systems into what’s called the Phalanx 1B configuration. At the same time, the CIWS overhaul also includes the development and ongoing integration of a new, next-generation radar for the system called the CIWS Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2, Navy officials explained.

The Block 1B configuration provides defense against asymmetric threats such as small, fast surface craft, slow-flying fixed and rotary-winged aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles through the addition of an integrated Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) sensor.

The Navy is now upgrading all fleet Phalanx Block 1B Baseline 0 and 1 Close-In Weapon Systems to the latest Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2 configuration, Eng said. The plan is to have an all CIWS Phalanx Block IB Baseline 2 fleet by fiscal year 2019, he added.

The Navy has also embarked on a series of planned reliability improvements (known as Reliability-Maintainability-Availability Kits) in order to keep the CIWS fleet population viable and affordable for the next several decades, Eng said.

An upgrade and conversion of an older CIWS Phalanx configuration to Phalanx Block IB averages around $4.5 million per unit and a Block IB Baseline 2 radar upgrade kit averages $931,000 per unit, Navy officials said.

The Phalanx Block IB configuration incorporates a stabilized Forward-Looking Infra-Red sensor, an automatic acquisition video tracker, optimized gun barrels (OBG) and the Enhanced Lethality Cartridges (ELC), service officials added.

Navy officials said Block IB provides ships the additional capability for defense against asymmetric threats such as small, high speed, maneuvering surface craft, slow-flying fixed and rotary-winged aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The FLIR also improves performance against anti-ship cruise missiles by providing more accurate angle tracking information to the fire control computer, officials added.

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What happens in the pleasure squad, stays in the pleasure squad (with one exception)

The young women of North Korea’s “pleasure squad” are employees of the state whose work involves — a’hem — “entertainment” services.


In 2010, Mi Hyang, a member Kim Jung Il’s pleasure squad defected to South Korea after her family was accused of treason. She served in the squad for two years before crossing the border and spilling the beans of the group’s activities to the well-known South Korean blog “Nambuk Story.”

“They made a detailed record of my family history and school record, “Mi Hyang said, describing how she was recruited from school when she was 15 by officers in their forties. “I was also asked whether I ever slept with a boy. I felt so ashamed to hear such a question.”

Although rumors suggested that the pleasure squad had disbanded with the death of Kim Jong-Il, it was reinstated under Kim Jong-Un, according to the Independent.

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6 chaplains who became heroes — without ever carrying a weapon

What’s not to like about chaplains, right? They hold good conversations, are generally nice, and most keep some extra hygiene products and pogey bait around for troops who wander by the chapel. Oh, they also perform religious services and counsel service members in need.


Some of them have distinguished themselves by going far beyond their earthly call of duty. Despite not being allowed to carry weapons, these six chaplains risked their lives to save others.

1. Chaplain Capodanno ignored his amputation and ran into machine gun fire to recover the wounded.

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Photo: US Navy

Navy Reserve Lt. (Chaplain) Vincent R. Capodonna was in a company command post Sept. 4, 1967, in Vietnam when he learned a platoon was being overrun. He ran to the battle and began delivering last rites and treating the wounded, continuing even when a mortar round took off part of his right hand.

He refused medical treatment and tried to save a wounded corpsman under heavy machine gun fire, but was gunned down in the attempt. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

2. Chaplain Newman gave away his armor, assisted the wounded, and held religious services ahead of the front line.

In March of 1953, Lt. j.g. (Chaplain) Thomas A. Newman, Jr. was supporting series of assaults in Korea. He continuously exposed himself to enemy fire while assisting stretcher bearers. When he came across a Marine whose vest was damaged, Newman gave up his own and continued working on the front line. Throughout the mission, he was known for holding services ahead of the front lines. He received the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.

3. Chaplain Watters repeatedly walked into the enemy’s field of fire to recover wounded soldiers.

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Photo: US Army

Army Reserve Maj. (Chaplain) Charles J. Watters was moving with a company of the 173rd Airborne Brigade when they came under fire from a Vietnamese battalion. During the ensuing battle, he frequently left the outer perimeter to recover wounded soldiers, distribute food, water, and medical supplies, and administer last rites. On one trip to assist the wounded, he was injured and killed. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor.

4. Chaplain Kapaun interrupted an execution after staying with the American wounded despite facing certain capture.

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Army Capt. (Chaplain) Emil Kapaun performs Mass in the field, Oct. 7, 1950. Photo: US Army Col. Raymond Skeehan

When a battalion of cavalry found themselves nearly surrounded and vastly outnumbered by attacking Chinese forces on Nov. 1 1950, they still managed to rebuff the first assault. But when they realized they couldn’t possibly withstand another assault, they ordered the retreat of all able-bodied men.

Army Capt. (Chaplain) Emil J. Kapaun elected to stay with the wounded. The Chinese soon broke through the beleaguered defensive line and began fighting hand-to-hand through the camp. Kapaun found a wounded Chinese officer and convinced him to negotiate the safe surrender of American troops. After Kapaun was captured, he shoved a Chinese soldier preparing to execute an American, saving the American’s life. Kapaun died in captivity and received the Medal of Honor for his actions.

5. Chaplain Liteky evacuated wounded, directed helicopters, and shielded soldiers in Vietnam.

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Capt. (Chaplain) Charles Liteky receives his Medal of Honor from President Lyndon Johnson. Photo: White House Photograph Office

Capt. (Chaplain) Charles J. Liteky was accompanying a company in the 199th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam on Dec. 6, 1967 when the company found itself in a fight with an enemy battalion. Under heavy enemy fire, Liteky began crawling around the battlefield to recover the wounded. He personally carried over 20 men to the helicopters and directed medevac birds as they ferried wounded out. He received the Medal of Honor, but later renounced it.

6. Chaplain Holder searched enemy held territory for wounded and dead Americans.

Soldiers with the 19th Infantry Regiment in Nov. 1950 were desperately looking for soldiers lost during a heavy enemy assault in the Korean War. Volunteer patrols repeatedly pushed to the unit’s former positions to find the wounded and killed Americans. Capt. (Chaplain) J. M. Holder joined many of the patrols and continued searching even while under heavy enemy fire, according to his Silver Star citation.

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