Friday, April 10, 2015

Hundreds of bodies found in mass grave (raw)

Hundreds of bodies found in mass grave (raw)

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Hundreds of bodies found in mass grave (raw)

Forensic teams examined and worked to remove hundreds of bodies found in a mass grave in Tikrit, Iraq. The victims are believed to be hundreds of soldiers killed by Islamic State group militants last year. (April 9) AP

Why is ISIS destroying Iraq’s cultural heritage? | Opinion , Commentary

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In recent months ISIS has taken to destroying priceless architecture and antiquities in northern Iraq. Since declaring a “caliphate” in June 2014 ISIS has targeted every ethno-sectarian group and even punished Sunnis who do not conform to its version of Islam.
The actions of ISIS, both brutal and barbaric, are deliberate and calculated. The group is trying to make permanent demographic changes in northwestern Iraq to ensure an environment only hospitable for its caliphate and those who believe in it.
The ethnic cleansing campaign began last summer with the forced exodus of minority groups from their villages and towns. This saw hundreds of thousands of people displaced to the Kurdistan region and central and southern Iraq. In some areas populations could not get out in time and ISIS captured scores of people. Those who fought back were executed, elderly men and women were left to die slowly, women were taken as slaves, and young boys and girls were moved to other areas where they were to be trained as “cubs” of the caliphate.
This breaking up of communities aimed to crush any resistance from other areas, prevent women from being integrated back into their families due to the dishonor stigma in Middle Eastern cultures where women have been raped, and indoctrinate a new army of young soldiers to fight their communities in the future.
Once the areas were depopulated the homes were marked with letters denoting the ethno-religious identity of the owners and the possessions looted or sold off. Then the homes themselves were either assigned to various commanders as their new residence or auctioned off to bidders. In some cases homes were destroyed if they belonged to active anti-ISIS leaders.
This has the effect of preventing quick resettlement in these areas if ISIS is defeated and the original inhabitants return. It also means there are no longer mixed Muslim-Christian neighborhoods or that Arab and Turkmen live next to each other.
In fact, unless these communities return, the next generations will have no experience of the “other” and so will not be tolerant or respectful, as ISIS wants.
Next came the churches and mosques that were blown up despite some being hundreds and thousands of years old, left intact during the times of the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates. The religious landscape of northern Iraq was changed. No longer was it multiconfessional; it was homogenous and adhered to the extremist version of Islam that ISIS propagated.
Then came the graves that proved how these areas had always been settled by a particular community, with names and dates on tombstones that were clear to see. Sledgehammers and bulldozers were used to level these and now all trace of these graves has been wiped out.
Libraries that housed priceless manuscripts, and works detailing the thousands years heritage ofMosul and other towns were burned to the ground. Even books of Islamic studies were not spared, as they contained a version of Islam that ISIS rejects. This colossal damage to local culture was meant to prevent education and learning, to maintain a distance between the caliphate and what these areas were like before. It was an attack on memory, society and civilization all at once.
Attacks on antiquities were perhaps the most publicized of these actions, with videos of statues being demolished in the Mosul museum circulating widely on social media. Strongly condemned by UNESCO and other organizations, these actions were meant to appeal to Muslims content with or not offended by the demolishing of the Bamiyan statues in Afghanistan in 2001.
But they were also meant to turn these areas into places of little value for foreigners and government agencies. In that way the outside world would have no interest in having a presence there, and ISIS could continue to find support in these areas and colonize them again should they be pushed out.
Perhaps the most tragic of all in this campaign was that ISIS relied on neighbors of those it attacked to carry out this ethnic cleansing. Several displaced persons interviewed by NGOs and human rights organizations stated that it was their neighbors who turned on them and forced them out, not foreign jihadis. This element was perhaps the most destructive, for if buildings can be rebuilt, ties and bonds broken by blood cannot.
The future looks bleak for the various ethno-religious groups that were settled in northern Iraq, particularly Christians who also face being forced out from other countries. The Iraqi authorities, with the aid of the international community, must reverse each of these steps that ISIS has taken to ethnically cleanse northern Iraq. Otherwise ISIS will have achieved its aim of making territories it seized permanently hospitable to it.
Sajad Jiyad is an analyst based at the Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies in Baghdad and can be followed on Twitter @SajadJiyad. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR.
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U.S. official: No timetable on Mosul invasion

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Story highlights

  • U.S. official said in February that Iraqi troops could go into Mosul in April or May
  • Officials say now that there's no timetable, an invasion could come sooner or later
  • They note that recapturing Mosul from ISIS could be a complicated endeavor
(CNN)Do you remember the talk about plans for Iraqi-led force to try to take back Mosul this spring?
Well, you might want to forget it.
Nearly three months after a U.S. official said up to 25,000 Iraqis troops were expected to return to the key northern Iraqi city in April or May, a senior official in President Barack Obama's administration said Thursday that Washington is "not putting a timeframe on" a possible invasion.
It "might be some time from now. Might be soon," another senior administration official said.
Mosul has long been the big prize in the Iraqi government's fight -- aided by a U.S.-led military coalition, which has carried out airstrikes for months -- to defeat ISIS. It has also long been a source of embarrassment, considering how it fell after Iraqi troops dropped their weapons, abandoned their posts and ran for their lives when militants arrived last June.
The senior administration officials who talked to reporters Thursday stressed the Iraqis and their allies are making progress in their fight against the group that calls itself the Islamic State. In fact, officials insist that ISIS has been degraded substantially thanks to a combination of air power and ground combat.
 Mass graves discovered in Tikrit

    Mass graves discovered in Tikrit

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The biggest and most recent example of this came with the recapture a few weeks ago of Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that is located some 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Iraqi forces aided by Iranian-backed Shiite militiamen took that northern city, the same place where ISIS allegedly massacred Iraqi troops last year.
Still, Mosul isn't Tikrit.
For one thing, it has a lot more people -- about a million, one Obama administration official noted. And it's more important not only to Iraq, but ISIS, meaning the terrorist group has all the more reason to go all-out to defend it.
In some ways, the campaign for Mosul has begun, according to officials. There are no plans for U.S. combat troops involvement in an eventual operation, they say, but airstrikes have already targeted ISIS positions in the area.
Just because the area has been softened up some from the air, though, doesn't mean a full ground assault is imminent.
Calling for "patience," an administration official said that winning Mosul is a complex endeavor.
It will "take a lot of capacity," the official said, "and some time to build."
A U.S. Air Force plane flies above Kobani on Saturday, October 18.
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A U.S. Air Force plane flies above Kobani on Saturday, October 18.
Heavy smoke rises in Kobani following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on October 18.
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Heavy smoke rises in Kobani following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on October 18.
Cundi Minaz, a female Kurdish fighter, is buried in a cemetery in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc on Tuesday, October 14. Minaz was reportedly killed during clashes with ISIS militants in nearby Kobani.
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Cundi Minaz, a female Kurdish fighter, is buried in a cemetery in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc on Tuesday, October 14. Minaz was reportedly killed during clashes with ISIS militants in nearby Kobani.
Turkish police officers secure a basketball stadium in Suruc on October 14. Some Syrian Kurds were held there after crossing from Syria into Turkey. Tens of thousands of people fled Kobani to escape ISIS.
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Turkish police officers secure a basketball stadium in Suruc on October 14. Some Syrian Kurds were held there after crossing from Syria into Turkey. Tens of thousands of people fled Kobani to escape ISIS.
Kiymet Ergun, a Syrian Kurd, celebrates in Mursitpinar, Turkey, after an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani on Monday, October 13.
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Kiymet Ergun, a Syrian Kurd, celebrates in Mursitpinar, Turkey, after an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani on Monday, October 13.
Alleged ISIS militants stand next to an ISIS flag atop a hill in Kobani on Monday, October 6.
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Alleged ISIS militants stand next to an ISIS flag atop a hill in Kobani on Monday, October 6.
In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, October 4, a U.S. Navy jet is refueled in Iraqi airspace after conducting an airstrike against ISIS militants.
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In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, October 4, a U.S. Navy jet is refueled in Iraqi airspace after conducting an airstrike against ISIS militants.
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who was wounded in a battle with ISIS is wheeled to the Zakho Emergency Hospital in Duhuk, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 30.
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A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who was wounded in a battle with ISIS is wheeled to the Zakho Emergency Hospital in Duhuk, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 30.
Syrian Kurds wait near a border crossing in Suruc as they wait to return to their homes in Kobani on Sunday, September 28.
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Syrian Kurds wait near a border crossing in Suruc as they wait to return to their homes in Kobani on Sunday, September 28.
Tomahawk missiles, intended for ISIS targets in Syria, fly above the Persian Gulf after being fired by the USS Philippine Sea in this image released by the U.S. Navy on Tuesday, September 23.
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Tomahawk missiles, intended for ISIS targets in Syria, fly above the Persian Gulf after being fired by the USS Philippine Sea in this image released by the U.S. Navy on Tuesday, September 23.
Turkish Kurds clash with Turkish security forces during a protest near Suruc on Monday, September 22. According to <a href="http://time.com/3423522/turkey-syria-isis-isil-refugees/" target="_blank">Time magazine</a>, the protests were over Turkey's temporary decision to close the border with Syria.
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Turkish Kurds clash with Turkish security forces during a protest near Suruc on Monday, September 22. According to Time magazine, the protests were over Turkey's temporary decision to close the border with Syria.
Syrian Kurds fleeing ISIS militants wait behind a fence in Suruc on Sunday, September 21.
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Syrian Kurds fleeing ISIS militants wait behind a fence in Suruc on Sunday, September 21.
A elderly man is carried after crossing the Syria-Turkey border near Suruc on Saturday, September 20.
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A elderly man is carried after crossing the Syria-Turkey border near Suruc on Saturday, September 20.
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells toward ISIS militants in Zumar, Iraq, on Monday, September 15.
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A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells toward ISIS militants in Zumar, Iraq, on Monday, September 15.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS militant positions from their position on the top of Mount Zardak, east of Mosul, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 9.
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Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS militant positions from their position on the top of Mount Zardak, east of Mosul, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 9.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard at their position in the Omar Khaled village west of Mosul on Sunday, August 24.
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Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard at their position in the Omar Khaled village west of Mosul on Sunday, August 24.
Kurdish Peshmergas fight to regain control of the town of Celavle, in Iraq's Diyala province, on August 24.
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Kurdish Peshmergas fight to regain control of the town of Celavle, in Iraq's Diyala province, on August 24.
Peshmerga fighters stand guard at Mosul Dam in northern Iraq on Thursday, August 21. With the help of U.S. military airstrikes, Kurdish and Iraqi forces<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/18/world/meast/iraq-mosul-dam/index.html"> retook the dam</a> from ISIS militants on August 18. A breach of the dam would have been catastrophic for millions of Iraqis who live downstream from it.
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Peshmerga fighters stand guard at Mosul Dam in northern Iraq on Thursday, August 21. With the help of U.S. military airstrikes, Kurdish and Iraqi forces retook the dam from ISIS militants on August 18. A breach of the dam would have been catastrophic for millions of Iraqis who live downstream from it.
Displaced Iraqis receive clothes from a charity at a refugee camp near Feeshkhabour, Iraq, on Tuesday, August 19.
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Displaced Iraqis receive clothes from a charity at a refugee camp near Feeshkhabour, Iraq, on Tuesday, August 19.
Peshmerga fighters inspect the remains of a car that reportedly belonged to ISIS militants and was targeted by a U.S. airstrike in the village of Baqufa, north of Mosul, on August 18.
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Peshmerga fighters inspect the remains of a car that reportedly belonged to ISIS militants and was targeted by a U.S. airstrike in the village of Baqufa, north of Mosul, on August 18.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS in Khazair, Iraq, on Thursday, August 14.
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Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS in Khazair, Iraq, on Thursday, August 14.
Aziza Hamid, a 15-year-old Iraqi girl, cries for her father while she and some other Yazidi people are flown to safety Monday, August 11, after a dramatic rescue operation at Iraq's Mount Sinjar. A CNN crew was on the flight, which took diapers, milk, water and food to the site where as many as 70,000 people were trapped by ISIS. But only a few of them were able to fly back on the helicopter with the Iraqi Air Force and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
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Aziza Hamid, a 15-year-old Iraqi girl, cries for her father while she and some other Yazidi people are flown to safety Monday, August 11, after a dramatic rescue operation at Iraq's Mount Sinjar. A CNN crew was on the flight, which took diapers, milk, water and food to the site where as many as 70,000 people were trapped by ISIS. But only a few of them were able to fly back on the helicopter with the Iraqi Air Force and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
Thousands of Yazidis are escorted to safety by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and a People's Protection Unit in Mosul on Saturday, August 9.
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Thousands of Yazidis are escorted to safety by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and a People's Protection Unit in Mosul on Saturday, August 9.
Thousands of Yazidi and Christian people flee Mosul on Wednesday, August 6, after the latest wave of ISIS advances.
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Thousands of Yazidi and Christian people flee Mosul on Wednesday, August 6, after the latest wave of ISIS advances.
A Baiji oil refinery burns after an alleged ISIS attack in northern Selahaddin, Iraq, on Thursday, July 31.
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A Baiji oil refinery burns after an alleged ISIS attack in northern Selahaddin, Iraq, on Thursday, July 31.
A Syrian rebel fighter lies on a stretcher at a makeshift hospital in Douma, Syria, on Wednesday, July 9. He was reportedly injured while fighting ISIS militants.
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A Syrian rebel fighter lies on a stretcher at a makeshift hospital in Douma, Syria, on Wednesday, July 9. He was reportedly injured while fighting ISIS militants.
New army recruits gather in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, June 18, following a call for Iraqis to take up arms against Islamic militant fighters.
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New army recruits gather in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, June 18, following a call for Iraqis to take up arms against Islamic militant fighters.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along with Iraqi special forces, deploy their troops and armored vehicles outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, on June 12.
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Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along with Iraqi special forces, deploy their troops and armored vehicles outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, on June 12.
Children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in Mosul on Tuesday, June 10.
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Children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in Mosul on Tuesday, June 10.
Civilians from Mosul escape to a refugee camp near Irbil, Iraq, on June 10.
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Civilians from Mosul escape to a refugee camp near Irbil, Iraq, on June 10.
Yazidis embrace after being released by ISIS south of Kirkuk, Iraq, on Wednesday, April 8.<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/08/world/isis-yazidis-released/"> ISIS released more than 200 Yazidis</a>, a minority group whose members were killed, captured and displaced when the Islamist terror organization overtook their towns in northern Iraq last summer, officials said.
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Yazidis embrace after being released by ISIS south of Kirkuk, Iraq, on Wednesday, April 8. ISIS released more than 200 Yazidis, a minority group whose members were killed, captured and displaced when the Islamist terror organization overtook their towns in northern Iraq last summer, officials said.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces help Yazidis as they arrive at a medical center in Altun Kupri, Iraq, on April 8.
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Kurdish Peshmerga forces help Yazidis as they arrive at a medical center in Altun Kupri, Iraq, on April 8.
A Yazidi woman mourns for the death of her husband and children by ISIS after being released south of Kirkuk on April 8.
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A Yazidi woman mourns for the death of her husband and children by ISIS after being released south of Kirkuk on April 8.
Security forces in Tikrit, Iraq, chant slogans against the ISIS militant group on Friday, April 3. They had just reopened the main gate of their base, which was closed for months while ISIS occupied the city.
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Security forces in Tikrit, Iraq, chant slogans against the ISIS militant group on Friday, April 3. They had just reopened the main gate of their base, which was closed for months while ISIS occupied the city.
People in Tikrit inspect what used to be a palace of former President Saddam Hussein on April 3.
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People in Tikrit inspect what used to be a palace of former President Saddam Hussein on April 3.
A member of Iraq's security forces beats a suspected ISIS member who was captured in Tikrit on Wednesday, April 1.
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A member of Iraq's security forces beats a suspected ISIS member who was captured in Tikrit on Wednesday, April 1.
On April 1, Shiite militiamen celebrate the retaking of Tikrit, which had been under ISIS control since June. The push into Tikrit came days after U.S.-led airstrikes targeted ISIS bases around the city.
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On April 1, Shiite militiamen celebrate the retaking of Tikrit, which had been under ISIS control since June. The push into Tikrit came days after U.S.-led airstrikes targeted ISIS bases around the city.
Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen prepare to attack ISIS militants in Tikrit on Tuesday, March 31. Ousting ISIS from Tikrit was an important step for the coalition, which is trying to thwart the extremist group's quest to grow its caliphate. ISIS wants to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria.
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Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen prepare to attack ISIS militants in Tikrit on Tuesday, March 31. Ousting ISIS from Tikrit was an important step for the coalition, which is trying to thwart the extremist group's quest to grow its caliphate. ISIS wants to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi security forces launch a rocket against ISIS positions in Tikrit on Monday, March 30.
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Iraqi security forces launch a rocket against ISIS positions in Tikrit on Monday, March 30.
An Iraqi soldier searches for ISIS fighters in Tikrit on March 30.
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An Iraqi soldier searches for ISIS fighters in Tikrit on March 30.
An Iraqi soldier takes photos of the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/16/middleeast/iraq-isis-babylon-safe/index.html" target="_blank">demolished tomb of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein</a> on Sunday, March 15. The tomb in Tikrit was destroyed as Iraqi forces battled ISIS for control of the city.
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Smoke billows after a mortar shell hit an Anbar governorate building in Ramadi, Iraq, on Wednesday, March 11. ISIS launched a coordinated attack on government-held areas of the western Iraqi city.
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Smoke billows after a mortar shell hit an Anbar governorate building in Ramadi, Iraq, on Wednesday, March 11. ISIS launched a coordinated attack on government-held areas of the western Iraqi city.
The parents of 19-year-old Mohammed Musallam react at the family's home in the East Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov on Tuesday, March 10. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/10/middleeast/isis-video-israeli-killed/">ISIS released a video purportedly</a> showing a young boy executing Musallam, an Israeli citizen of Palestinian descent who ISIS claimed infiltrated the group in Syria to spy for the Jewish state. Musallam's family told CNN that he had no ties with the Mossad, Israel's spy agency, and had, in fact, been recruited by ISIS.
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The parents of 19-year-old Mohammed Musallam react at the family's home in the East Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov on Tuesday, March 10. ISIS released a video purportedly showing a young boy executing Musallam, an Israeli citizen of Palestinian descent who ISIS claimed infiltrated the group in Syria to spy for the Jewish state. Musallam's family told CNN that he had no ties with the Mossad, Israel's spy agency, and had, in fact, been recruited by ISIS.
Iraqi Shiite fighters cover their ears as a rocket is launched during a clash with ISIS militants in the town of Al-Alam, Iraq, on Monday, March 9.
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Iraqi Shiite fighters cover their ears as a rocket is launched during a clash with ISIS militants in the town of Al-Alam, Iraq, on Monday, March 9.
Displaced Assyrian women who fled their homes due to ISIS attacks pray at a church on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, on Sunday, March 1. ISIS militants recently abducted at least 220 Assyrians in Syria.
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Displaced Assyrian women who fled their homes due to ISIS attacks pray at a church on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, on Sunday, March 1. ISIS militants recently abducted at least 220 Assyrians in Syria.
Safi al-Kasasbeh, right, receives condolences from tribal leaders at his home village near Karak, Jordan, on Wednesday, February 4. Al-Kasasbeh's son, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/03/world/gallery/jordanian-pilot-reaction/index.html" target="_blank">Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh,</a> was burned alive in a video that was recently released by ISIS militants. Jordan is one of a handful of Middle Eastern nations taking part in the U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS.
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Safi al-Kasasbeh, right, receives condolences from tribal leaders at his home village near Karak, Jordan, on Wednesday, February 4. Al-Kasasbeh's son, Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh, was burned alive in a video that was recently released by ISIS militants. Jordan is one of a handful of Middle Eastern nations taking part in the U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS.
A Kurdish marksman looks over a destroyed area of Kobani on Friday, January 30, after the city had been liberated from the ISIS militant group. The Syrian city, also known as Ayn al-Arab, had been under assault by ISIS since mid-September.
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A Kurdish marksman looks over a destroyed area of Kobani on Friday, January 30, after the city had been liberated from the ISIS militant group. The Syrian city, also known as Ayn al-Arab, had been under assault by ISIS since mid-September.
Smoke billows in Kirkuk as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position against ISIS militants on January 30.
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Smoke billows in Kirkuk as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position against ISIS militants on January 30.
Kurdish people celebrate in Suruc, Turkey, near the Turkish-Syrian border, after ISIS militants were expelled from Kobani on Tuesday, January 27.
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Kurdish people celebrate in Suruc, Turkey, near the Turkish-Syrian border, after ISIS militants were expelled from Kobani on Tuesday, January 27.
Collapsed buildings are seen in Kobani on January 27 after Kurdish forces took control of the town from ISIS.
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Collapsed buildings are seen in Kobani on January 27 after Kurdish forces took control of the town from ISIS.
Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, reacts during a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, January 23. ISIS would later kill Goto and another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
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Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, reacts during a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, January 23. ISIS would later kill Goto and another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
ISIS militants are seen through a rifle's scope during clashes with Peshmerga fighters in Mosul, Iraq, on Wednesday, January 21.
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ISIS militants are seen through a rifle's scope during clashes with Peshmerga fighters in Mosul, Iraq, on Wednesday, January 21.
An elderly Yazidi man arrives in Kirkuk after being released by ISIS on Saturday, January 17. The militant group released about 200 Yazidis who were held captive for five months in Iraq. Almost all of the freed prisoners were in poor health and bore signs of abuse and neglect, Kurdish officials said.
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An elderly Yazidi man arrives in Kirkuk after being released by ISIS on Saturday, January 17. The militant group released about 200 Yazidis who were held captive for five months in Iraq. Almost all of the freed prisoners were in poor health and bore signs of abuse and neglect, Kurdish officials said.
Smoke billows behind an ISIS sign during an Iraqi military operation to regain control of the town of Sadiyah, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, on Tuesday, November 25.
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Smoke billows behind an ISIS sign during an Iraqi military operation to regain control of the town of Sadiyah, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, on Tuesday, November 25.
Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish People's Protection Units join forces to fight ISIS in Kobani on Wednesday, November 19.
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Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish People's Protection Units join forces to fight ISIS in Kobani on Wednesday, November 19.
A picture taken from Turkey shows smoke rising after ISIS militants fired mortar shells toward an area controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters near Kobani on Monday, November 3.
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A picture taken from Turkey shows smoke rising after ISIS militants fired mortar shells toward an area controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters near Kobani on Monday, November 3.
Iraqi special forces search a house in Jurf al-Sakhar, Iraq, on Thursday, October 30, after retaking the area from ISIS.
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Iraqi special forces search a house in Jurf al-Sakhar, Iraq, on Thursday, October 30, after retaking the area from ISIS.
ISIS militants stand near the site of an airstrike near the Turkey-Syria border on Thursday, October 23. The United States and several Arab nations have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria to take out the militant group's ability to command, train and resupply its fighters.
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ISIS militants stand near the site of an airstrike near the Turkey-Syria border on Thursday, October 23. The United States and several Arab nations have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria to take out the militant group's ability to command, train and resupply its fighters.
Kurdish fighters walk to positions as they combat ISIS forces in Kobani on Sunday, October 19.
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Kurdish fighters walk to positions as they combat ISIS forces in Kobani on Sunday, October 19.
A U.S. Air Force plane flies above Kobani on Saturday, October 18.
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A U.S. Air Force plane flies above Kobani on Saturday, October 18.
Heavy smoke rises in Kobani following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on October 18.
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Heavy smoke rises in Kobani following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on October 18.
Cundi Minaz, a female Kurdish fighter, is buried in a cemetery in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc on Tuesday, October 14. Minaz was reportedly killed during clashes with ISIS militants in nearby Kobani.
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Cundi Minaz, a female Kurdish fighter, is buried in a cemetery in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc on Tuesday, October 14. Minaz was reportedly killed during clashes with ISIS militants in nearby Kobani.
Turkish police officers secure a basketball stadium in Suruc on October 14. Some Syrian Kurds were held there after crossing from Syria into Turkey. Tens of thousands of people fled Kobani to escape ISIS.
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Turkish police officers secure a basketball stadium in Suruc on October 14. Some Syrian Kurds were held there after crossing from Syria into Turkey. Tens of thousands of people fled Kobani to escape ISIS.
Kiymet Ergun, a Syrian Kurd, celebrates in Mursitpinar, Turkey, after an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani on Monday, October 13.
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Kiymet Ergun, a Syrian Kurd, celebrates in Mursitpinar, Turkey, after an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Kobani on Monday, October 13.
Alleged ISIS militants stand next to an ISIS flag atop a hill in Kobani on Monday, October 6.
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Alleged ISIS militants stand next to an ISIS flag atop a hill in Kobani on Monday, October 6.
In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, October 4, a U.S. Navy jet is refueled in Iraqi airspace after conducting an airstrike against ISIS militants.
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In this photo released by the U.S. Air Force on Saturday, October 4, a U.S. Navy jet is refueled in Iraqi airspace after conducting an airstrike against ISIS militants.
A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who was wounded in a battle with ISIS is wheeled to the Zakho Emergency Hospital in Duhuk, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 30.
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A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier who was wounded in a battle with ISIS is wheeled to the Zakho Emergency Hospital in Duhuk, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 30.
Syrian Kurds wait near a border crossing in Suruc as they wait to return to their homes in Kobani on Sunday, September 28.
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Syrian Kurds wait near a border crossing in Suruc as they wait to return to their homes in Kobani on Sunday, September 28.
Tomahawk missiles, intended for ISIS targets in Syria, fly above the Persian Gulf after being fired by the USS Philippine Sea in this image released by the U.S. Navy on Tuesday, September 23.
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Tomahawk missiles, intended for ISIS targets in Syria, fly above the Persian Gulf after being fired by the USS Philippine Sea in this image released by the U.S. Navy on Tuesday, September 23.
Turkish Kurds clash with Turkish security forces during a protest near Suruc on Monday, September 22. According to <a href="http://time.com/3423522/turkey-syria-isis-isil-refugees/" target="_blank">Time magazine</a>, the protests were over Turkey's temporary decision to close the border with Syria.
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Turkish Kurds clash with Turkish security forces during a protest near Suruc on Monday, September 22. According to Time magazine, the protests were over Turkey's temporary decision to close the border with Syria.
Syrian Kurds fleeing ISIS militants wait behind a fence in Suruc on Sunday, September 21.
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Syrian Kurds fleeing ISIS militants wait behind a fence in Suruc on Sunday, September 21.
A elderly man is carried after crossing the Syria-Turkey border near Suruc on Saturday, September 20.
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A elderly man is carried after crossing the Syria-Turkey border near Suruc on Saturday, September 20.
A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells toward ISIS militants in Zumar, Iraq, on Monday, September 15.
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A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter launches mortar shells toward ISIS militants in Zumar, Iraq, on Monday, September 15.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS militant positions from their position on the top of Mount Zardak, east of Mosul, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 9.
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Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS militant positions from their position on the top of Mount Zardak, east of Mosul, Iraq, on Tuesday, September 9.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard at their position in the Omar Khaled village west of Mosul on Sunday, August 24.
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Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard at their position in the Omar Khaled village west of Mosul on Sunday, August 24.
Kurdish Peshmergas fight to regain control of the town of Celavle, in Iraq's Diyala province, on August 24.
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Kurdish Peshmergas fight to regain control of the town of Celavle, in Iraq's Diyala province, on August 24.
Peshmerga fighters stand guard at Mosul Dam in northern Iraq on Thursday, August 21. With the help of U.S. military airstrikes, Kurdish and Iraqi forces<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/18/world/meast/iraq-mosul-dam/index.html"> retook the dam</a> from ISIS militants on August 18. A breach of the dam would have been catastrophic for millions of Iraqis who live downstream from it.
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Peshmerga fighters stand guard at Mosul Dam in northern Iraq on Thursday, August 21. With the help of U.S. military airstrikes, Kurdish and Iraqi forces retook the dam from ISIS militants on August 18. A breach of the dam would have been catastrophic for millions of Iraqis who live downstream from it.
Displaced Iraqis receive clothes from a charity at a refugee camp near Feeshkhabour, Iraq, on Tuesday, August 19.
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Displaced Iraqis receive clothes from a charity at a refugee camp near Feeshkhabour, Iraq, on Tuesday, August 19.
Peshmerga fighters inspect the remains of a car that reportedly belonged to ISIS militants and was targeted by a U.S. airstrike in the village of Baqufa, north of Mosul, on August 18.
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Peshmerga fighters inspect the remains of a car that reportedly belonged to ISIS militants and was targeted by a U.S. airstrike in the village of Baqufa, north of Mosul, on August 18.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS in Khazair, Iraq, on Thursday, August 14.
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Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fire at ISIS in Khazair, Iraq, on Thursday, August 14.
Aziza Hamid, a 15-year-old Iraqi girl, cries for her father while she and some other Yazidi people are flown to safety Monday, August 11, after a dramatic rescue operation at Iraq's Mount Sinjar. A CNN crew was on the flight, which took diapers, milk, water and food to the site where as many as 70,000 people were trapped by ISIS. But only a few of them were able to fly back on the helicopter with the Iraqi Air Force and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
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Aziza Hamid, a 15-year-old Iraqi girl, cries for her father while she and some other Yazidi people are flown to safety Monday, August 11, after a dramatic rescue operation at Iraq's Mount Sinjar. A CNN crew was on the flight, which took diapers, milk, water and food to the site where as many as 70,000 people were trapped by ISIS. But only a few of them were able to fly back on the helicopter with the Iraqi Air Force and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
Thousands of Yazidis are escorted to safety by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and a People's Protection Unit in Mosul on Saturday, August 9.
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Thousands of Yazidis are escorted to safety by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and a People's Protection Unit in Mosul on Saturday, August 9.
Thousands of Yazidi and Christian people flee Mosul on Wednesday, August 6, after the latest wave of ISIS advances.
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Thousands of Yazidi and Christian people flee Mosul on Wednesday, August 6, after the latest wave of ISIS advances.
A Baiji oil refinery burns after an alleged ISIS attack in northern Selahaddin, Iraq, on Thursday, July 31.
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A Baiji oil refinery burns after an alleged ISIS attack in northern Selahaddin, Iraq, on Thursday, July 31.
A Syrian rebel fighter lies on a stretcher at a makeshift hospital in Douma, Syria, on Wednesday, July 9. He was reportedly injured while fighting ISIS militants.
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A Syrian rebel fighter lies on a stretcher at a makeshift hospital in Douma, Syria, on Wednesday, July 9. He was reportedly injured while fighting ISIS militants.
New army recruits gather in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, June 18, following a call for Iraqis to take up arms against Islamic militant fighters.
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New army recruits gather in Najaf, Iraq, on Wednesday, June 18, following a call for Iraqis to take up arms against Islamic militant fighters.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along with Iraqi special forces, deploy their troops and armored vehicles outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, on June 12.
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Kurdish Peshmerga forces, along with Iraqi special forces, deploy their troops and armored vehicles outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, on June 12.
Children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in Mosul on Tuesday, June 10.
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Children stand next to a burnt vehicle during clashes between Iraqi security forces and ISIS militants in Mosul on Tuesday, June 10.
Civilians from Mosul escape to a refugee camp near Irbil, Iraq, on June 10.
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Civilians from Mosul escape to a refugee camp near Irbil, Iraq, on June 10.
Yazidis embrace after being released by ISIS south of Kirkuk, Iraq, on Wednesday, April 8.<a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/08/world/isis-yazidis-released/"> ISIS released more than 200 Yazidis</a>, a minority group whose members were killed, captured and displaced when the Islamist terror organization overtook their towns in northern Iraq last summer, officials said.
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Yazidis embrace after being released by ISIS south of Kirkuk, Iraq, on Wednesday, April 8. ISIS released more than 200 Yazidis, a minority group whose members were killed, captured and displaced when the Islamist terror organization overtook their towns in northern Iraq last summer, officials said.
Kurdish Peshmerga forces help Yazidis as they arrive at a medical center in Altun Kupri, Iraq, on April 8.
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Kurdish Peshmerga forces help Yazidis as they arrive at a medical center in Altun Kupri, Iraq, on April 8.
A Yazidi woman mourns for the death of her husband and children by ISIS after being released south of Kirkuk on April 8.
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A Yazidi woman mourns for the death of her husband and children by ISIS after being released south of Kirkuk on April 8.
Security forces in Tikrit, Iraq, chant slogans against the ISIS militant group on Friday, April 3. They had just reopened the main gate of their base, which was closed for months while ISIS occupied the city.
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Security forces in Tikrit, Iraq, chant slogans against the ISIS militant group on Friday, April 3. They had just reopened the main gate of their base, which was closed for months while ISIS occupied the city.
People in Tikrit inspect what used to be a palace of former President Saddam Hussein on April 3.
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People in Tikrit inspect what used to be a palace of former President Saddam Hussein on April 3.
A member of Iraq's security forces beats a suspected ISIS member who was captured in Tikrit on Wednesday, April 1.
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A member of Iraq's security forces beats a suspected ISIS member who was captured in Tikrit on Wednesday, April 1.
On April 1, Shiite militiamen celebrate the retaking of Tikrit, which had been under ISIS control since June. The push into Tikrit came days after U.S.-led airstrikes targeted ISIS bases around the city.
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On April 1, Shiite militiamen celebrate the retaking of Tikrit, which had been under ISIS control since June. The push into Tikrit came days after U.S.-led airstrikes targeted ISIS bases around the city.
Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen prepare to attack ISIS militants in Tikrit on Tuesday, March 31. Ousting ISIS from Tikrit was an important step for the coalition, which is trying to thwart the extremist group's quest to grow its caliphate. ISIS wants to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria.
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Iraqi security forces and Shiite militiamen prepare to attack ISIS militants in Tikrit on Tuesday, March 31. Ousting ISIS from Tikrit was an important step for the coalition, which is trying to thwart the extremist group's quest to grow its caliphate. ISIS wants to create an Islamic state across Sunni areas of Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi security forces launch a rocket against ISIS positions in Tikrit on Monday, March 30.
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Iraqi security forces launch a rocket against ISIS positions in Tikrit on Monday, March 30.
An Iraqi soldier searches for ISIS fighters in Tikrit on March 30.
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An Iraqi soldier searches for ISIS fighters in Tikrit on March 30.
An Iraqi soldier takes photos of the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/16/middleeast/iraq-isis-babylon-safe/index.html" target="_blank">demolished tomb of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein</a> on Sunday, March 15. The tomb in Tikrit was destroyed as Iraqi forces battled ISIS for control of the city.
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Smoke billows after a mortar shell hit an Anbar governorate building in Ramadi, Iraq, on Wednesday, March 11. ISIS launched a coordinated attack on government-held areas of the western Iraqi city.
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Smoke billows after a mortar shell hit an Anbar governorate building in Ramadi, Iraq, on Wednesday, March 11. ISIS launched a coordinated attack on government-held areas of the western Iraqi city.
The parents of 19-year-old Mohammed Musallam react at the family's home in the East Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov on Tuesday, March 10. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/10/middleeast/isis-video-israeli-killed/">ISIS released a video purportedly</a> showing a young boy executing Musallam, an Israeli citizen of Palestinian descent who ISIS claimed infiltrated the group in Syria to spy for the Jewish state. Musallam's family told CNN that he had no ties with the Mossad, Israel's spy agency, and had, in fact, been recruited by ISIS.
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The parents of 19-year-old Mohammed Musallam react at the family's home in the East Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Neve Yaakov on Tuesday, March 10. ISIS released a video purportedly showing a young boy executing Musallam, an Israeli citizen of Palestinian descent who ISIS claimed infiltrated the group in Syria to spy for the Jewish state. Musallam's family told CNN that he had no ties with the Mossad, Israel's spy agency, and had, in fact, been recruited by ISIS.
Iraqi Shiite fighters cover their ears as a rocket is launched during a clash with ISIS militants in the town of Al-Alam, Iraq, on Monday, March 9.
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Iraqi Shiite fighters cover their ears as a rocket is launched during a clash with ISIS militants in the town of Al-Alam, Iraq, on Monday, March 9.
Displaced Assyrian women who fled their homes due to ISIS attacks pray at a church on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, on Sunday, March 1. ISIS militants recently abducted at least 220 Assyrians in Syria.
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Displaced Assyrian women who fled their homes due to ISIS attacks pray at a church on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, on Sunday, March 1. ISIS militants recently abducted at least 220 Assyrians in Syria.
Safi al-Kasasbeh, right, receives condolences from tribal leaders at his home village near Karak, Jordan, on Wednesday, February 4. Al-Kasasbeh's son, <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/03/world/gallery/jordanian-pilot-reaction/index.html" target="_blank">Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh,</a> was burned alive in a video that was recently released by ISIS militants. Jordan is one of a handful of Middle Eastern nations taking part in the U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS.
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Safi al-Kasasbeh, right, receives condolences from tribal leaders at his home village near Karak, Jordan, on Wednesday, February 4. Al-Kasasbeh's son, Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh, was burned alive in a video that was recently released by ISIS militants. Jordan is one of a handful of Middle Eastern nations taking part in the U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS.
A Kurdish marksman looks over a destroyed area of Kobani on Friday, January 30, after the city had been liberated from the ISIS militant group. The Syrian city, also known as Ayn al-Arab, had been under assault by ISIS since mid-September.
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A Kurdish marksman looks over a destroyed area of Kobani on Friday, January 30, after the city had been liberated from the ISIS militant group. The Syrian city, also known as Ayn al-Arab, had been under assault by ISIS since mid-September.
Smoke billows in Kirkuk as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position against ISIS militants on January 30.
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Smoke billows in Kirkuk as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters take position against ISIS militants on January 30.
Kurdish people celebrate in Suruc, Turkey, near the Turkish-Syrian border, after ISIS militants were expelled from Kobani on Tuesday, January 27.
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Kurdish people celebrate in Suruc, Turkey, near the Turkish-Syrian border, after ISIS militants were expelled from Kobani on Tuesday, January 27.
Collapsed buildings are seen in Kobani on January 27 after Kurdish forces took control of the town from ISIS.
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Collapsed buildings are seen in Kobani on January 27 after Kurdish forces took control of the town from ISIS.
Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, reacts during a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, January 23. ISIS would later kill Goto and another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
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Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, reacts during a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, January 23. ISIS would later kill Goto and another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
ISIS militants are seen through a rifle's scope during clashes with Peshmerga fighters in Mosul, Iraq, on Wednesday, January 21.
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ISIS militants are seen through a rifle's scope during clashes with Peshmerga fighters in Mosul, Iraq, on Wednesday, January 21.
An elderly Yazidi man arrives in Kirkuk after being released by ISIS on Saturday, January 17. The militant group released about 200 Yazidis who were held captive for five months in Iraq. Almost all of the freed prisoners were in poor health and bore signs of abuse and neglect, Kurdish officials said.
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An elderly Yazidi man arrives in Kirkuk after being released by ISIS on Saturday, January 17. The militant group released about 200 Yazidis who were held captive for five months in Iraq. Almost all of the freed prisoners were in poor health and bore signs of abuse and neglect, Kurdish officials said.
Smoke billows behind an ISIS sign during an Iraqi military operation to regain control of the town of Sadiyah, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, on Tuesday, November 25.
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Smoke billows behind an ISIS sign during an Iraqi military operation to regain control of the town of Sadiyah, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad, on Tuesday, November 25.
Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish People's Protection Units join forces to fight ISIS in Kobani on Wednesday, November 19.
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Fighters from the Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish People's Protection Units join forces to fight ISIS in Kobani on Wednesday, November 19.
A picture taken from Turkey shows smoke rising after ISIS militants fired mortar shells toward an area controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters near Kobani on Monday, November 3.
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A picture taken from Turkey shows smoke rising after ISIS militants fired mortar shells toward an area controlled by Syrian Kurdish fighters near Kobani on Monday, November 3.
Iraqi special forces search a house in Jurf al-Sakhar, Iraq, on Thursday, October 30, after retaking the area from ISIS.
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Iraqi special forces search a house in Jurf al-Sakhar, Iraq, on Thursday, October 30, after retaking the area from ISIS.
ISIS militants stand near the site of an airstrike near the Turkey-Syria border on Thursday, October 23. The United States and several Arab nations have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria to take out the militant group's ability to command, train and resupply its fighters.
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ISIS militants stand near the site of an airstrike near the Turkey-Syria border on Thursday, October 23. The United States and several Arab nations have been bombing ISIS targets in Syria to take out the militant group's ability to command, train and resupply its fighters.
Kurdish fighters walk to positions as they combat ISIS forces in Kobani on Sunday, October 19.
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Kurdish fighters walk to positions as they combat ISIS forces in Kobani on Sunday, October 19.
A U.S. Air Force plane flies above Kobani on Saturday, October 18.
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A U.S. Air Force plane flies above Kobani on Saturday, October 18.
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ISIS launches English radio

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London
ISIS has launched English-language radio news bulletins on its Iraqi broadcast service - complete with information on the latest suicide bombings and ‘martyrdom operations’.
The extremist group’s first English bulletin aired on Tuesday on its al-Bayan radio network, which already boasts updates in both Arabic and Russian.
The nine-and-a-half minute broadcast, which begins and ends with traditional sounding Arabic music, is hosted by a man with an American accent, who takes the listener through the main events of the day.
It provided an overview of the militants activities in Iraq, Syria and Libya, discussing a range of topics  - including the alleged death of an ISIS commander in the Yarmouk refugee camp in the Syrian capital, Damascus, a suicide bombing in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk and mortar attacks on militias in Sirte, Libya.
It also boasts of ISIS fighters ‘roasting the flesh’ of their opponents, car bombs killing people and destroying an ‘idol’ and so-called ‘martyrdom operations’.
It ends thanking the listener for ‘tuning in’. But the radio station is not the only option ISIS commanders are using to reach out to English-speakers: they already have a monthly propaganda magazine, Dabiq. The magazine - named after the Syrian town where a ‘malahim’, the equivalent to an Armageddon, in which the Muslims ultimately prevail - has so far issued eight editions, covering events like those in Paris and Sydney.
It also boasts about some of its worst atrocities in the pages of the glossy booklet - which has even outlined a religious justification for slavery.
Exactly why ISIS commanders have decided to branch out from print to radio now is not known, but it comes within days of it being revealed a new school of nursing in the militants’ de facto capital Raqqa would only accept English-speaking applicants.
Students graduating from ISIS’ nursing school will be required to spend a full two years working for institutions run by the terrorist organisation after they finish training.
However, English’s dominance around the globe is likely to mean it is the most convenient language to use when communicating with the estimated 20,000 fighters from 90 countries around the globe who have joined ISIS.  

US to Tehran: Hands off Yemen

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ADEN: Washington warned Thursday it would not “stand by” while Iran supports rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition hit anti-government targets at the start of a third week of bombings.
In the most direct US criticism yet of Tehran’s backing of the Shiite Houthi rebels, Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington would not accept foreign interference in Yemen.
“There have been — there are, obviously — flights coming from Iran. Every single week there are flights from Iran and we’ve traced it and know this,” Kerry told PBS television in an interview.
“Iran needs to recognize that the United States is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized or while people engage in overt warfare across lines, international boundaries in other countries.”
Kerry said Washington was not looking for confrontation with Tehran.
“But we’re not going to step away from our alliances and our friendships and the need to stand with those who feel threatened as a consequence of the choices that Iran might be making.”
The airstrikes killed at least 14 rebel fighters in Aden overnight Thursday at positions near the northern edge of the city, a source in pro-government forces told AFP.

Airstrikes also hit a military camp in the southern Shabwa province that was seized by the Houthis’ main allies — security forces who have remained loyal to former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, a local official said.
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The Saudi concert | The Jakarta Post

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The war within a religion in the Afro-Arab world is set to intensify if Pakistan responds positively to Saudi Arabia’s appeal and joins the military offensive against the Shia militants in Yemen.
While the GHQ (Pakistan Army General Headquarters) in Rawalpindi has thus far kept the cards close to its chest, the Saudi siren call as it were lends a new dimension to the relentless turmoil in the Middle East.
It is open to question whether Pakistan will agree to open an offshore flank, indeed a terrifying new chapter in its war against the fundamentalists.
The forward movement on Iraq’s nuclear potential in the conference of the P-5 plus One in Lausanne appears to have prompted the desert kingdom to play a more aggressive role in the region.
It now wants Pakistan to join its air offensive against the Shia rebellion that has ousted the Yemeni president and now controls a vast swathe of the country.
Saudi Arabia arguably feels threatened by the possible return of Iran to official Western favour, if indications from the Swiss city are any indication.
There is little doubt that Riyadh is betraying signs of aspiring to become a major belligerent in a region where Syria, Iraq and Lebanon are already torn apart by devastating civil wars.
The geopolitical power-play is no less a destabilising factor than the Shia revolt in Yemen and the surge of the Caliphate elsewhere.
Should Pakistan join the Saudi concert, Yemen is bound to wallow further in the melting-pot.
The sectarian strife has provoked the Head of State to take the first flight out of Saana. In the net, there is a vacuum of state power in Yemen.
As in the stormcentres of the Arab region, this vacuum has enabled the ISIS jihadists and other Islamist fundamentalists to spread their influence and perpetrate further atrocities.
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have traditionally maintained cordial relations.
In the 1980s, Saudi Arabia had sent money and material -- via Pakistan -- to the mujahidin fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Pakistan, for its part, has provided the Saudis with military assistance. Now by directly asking Islamabad to join the Yemen operations, Riyadh seems intent on opening a new phase in the relationship.
The military-diplomatic paradigm is fluid. There is a robust opinion in Pakistan against involvement.
Not the least because Yemen has not threatened Saudi Arabia’s integrity. The other deterrent is the forbidding Shia-Sunni tension in Pakistan.
Yet another and still more crucially, Pakistan shares a long border with Iran, and relations between the two have recently improved.
By intervening in a new sectarian war, the ferment within the Islamic bloc will become still more intractable.
Geostrategy ought to avert an extension -- beyond borders -- of the Shia-Sunni conflagration. Enough have died already. (***)
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Tensions Between Iran and Saudi Arabia Deepen Over Conflict in Yemen

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CAIRO — Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia deepened on Thursday as Iranian leaders lashed out with rare vehemence against the continuing Saudi air campaign in Yemen, even hurling personal insults at the young Saudi prince who is leading the fight.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, on Thursday denounced the Saudi airstrikes inYemen as “a crime” and “a genocide,” while all but taunting Saudi Arabia that its war in Yemen was doomed to fail.
A regional coalition led by Saudi Arabia extended its bombing campaign for a 16th night in its effort to stop the Houthi movement and its allies from dominating Yemen. The Houthis nonetheless continued their advance, and aid groups warned of a compounding humanitarian catastrophe, particularly in the port city of Aden.
Secretary of State John Kerry sharply warned Iran over its backing for the other side of the conflict in Yemen, in the first explicit American accusation that Tehran has been providing military aid to the Houthis.
Washington was “not going to stand by while the region is destabilized,” Mr. Kerry said in an interview with “PBS NewsHour” on Wednesday night.
“There are obviously supplies that have been coming from Iran,” he added. “There are a number of flights every single week that have been flying in. We trace those flights, and we know this. We are well aware of the support that Iran has been giving to Yemen.”
The United States has recently increased the provision of logistical support, intelligence and weapons to the Saudi campaign, just days after the announcement of a framework for a nuclear deal with Iran. Mr. Kerry said he was seeking to reassure allies, including Saudi Arabia, that the United States could “do two things at the same time.” The United States could help push back against Iranian attempts to project its influence around the region, he argued, while at the same time negotiating a deal that would reward Tehran for providing guarantees that it was not building nuclear weapons.
Saudi Arabia has said it is bombing the Houthis because it sees them as an instrument of Iranian power, but Western diplomats and independent experts have said that while Iran has supported the Houthis financially, it has no direct control over the group.
The back-and-forth insults and threats Thursday raised fears that the Yemeni conflict could further inflame the rivalry between the two regional heavyweights, Iran and Saudi Arabia, already fighting each other through sectarian proxies in Syria and in less overt struggles across Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain.
Some analysts suggested that the battle for Yemen may further complicate the delicate politics of a deal with the Western powers to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. But others argued that the deal had instead emboldened Iran to flex its muscles against Saudi Arabia.
“Deep down, the Iranians know that they are winning,” said Michael Stephens, the head of the Royal United Services Institute in Doha, Qatar.
Mr. Kerry appeared forced into a difficult balance, reassuring Saudi Arabia and other allies of American support against Iran without antagonizing Iranian hard-liners severely enough to fuel opposition to the nuclear deal.
The Ayatollah’s diatribe only added to the challenge.
In rare direct criticism of Iran’s rival by name, Ayatollah Khamenei said that Saudi Arabia was departing from a history of acting with dignity in foreign affairs, saying that “inexperienced youths have taken over the affairs of the state and are replacing dignity with barbarity.”
His comments were a jab at the Saudi defense minister, Prince Mohamed bin Salman, who Saudi diplomats say is about 30. He is also a son of King Salman, who ascended to the throne this year and promptly named him to the powerful dual roles of defense minister and chief of the royal court.
The Saudi news media has been cheering Prince Mohamed as the architect and overseer of the Yemeni campaign despite a light résumé, raising eyebrows among rivals in the royal family and setting him up for embarrassment if it is deemed to have failed.
In a statement on Thursday, Ayatollah Khamenei warned the Saudis “they must cease their crimes in Yemen,” and that failure there was all but inevitable.
Annotated maps showing the Houthi rebels’ drive south, U.S. airstrikes and historical divisions.
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“They will be harmed and incur losses in this issue in which they will under no circumstances triumph. The Saudis’ face will be rubbed in the ground in Yemen,” he said, comparing the Saudi actions to Israel’s campaigns against Palestinian militants in Gaza — who have also received support from Iran.
In another statement, released over Twitter along with some of his other remarks, the ayatollah further teased Saudi Arabia about its pledge to catch up to Iran in the development of a nuclear weapon.
“An underdeveloped country said that ‘If Iran has enrichment, we want it too,’ ” he said. “Well, do it if you can. Nuclear technology is our domestic capability.”
Mr. Stephens, of the Royal United Services Institute, said the extraordinary barbed comments appeared designed to provoke and inflame.
“It is almost like the Iranians are baiting the Saudis, trying to find every pressure point, to make the Saudis feel emasculated, and then stand back and watch as the Saudis get in deeper and deeper,” he said.
But at the same time, he argued, the Iranians were sending a message of support to their Yemeni allies, the Houthis.
“They have decided to show that they are willing to stand behind the Houthis,” Mr. Stephens said. “The Iranians are making some sort of a guarantee to their allies that, whatever happens, they are going to make sure that the Houthis are at the table for the talks.”
Saudi Arabia, which is leading a regional coalition against the Houthis, issued its own warning to Iran, saying that two Iranian warships that recently arrived in the waters off Yemen should steer clear of Yemeni waters. “If the ships seek to aid the Houthis, the coalition has the right to choose the proper answer,” said a spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ahmad Asseri.
In another provocation, Saudi Arabia denied permission for an Iranian plane filled with pilgrims to land in Mecca.
The Houthis, a group based in northern Yemen that follows a strain of Shiite Islam, have fought a half dozen conflicts with the Yemeni government since 2004, including a fight in 2009 that drew Saudi Arabia into border skirmishes. Only since that time, scholars say, has the movement received support from Iran, the region’s main Shiite Muslim power as well as Saudi Arabia’s rival.
Since the fall, however, the Houthis have teamed with major units of the Yemeni security forces still loyal to the former strongman, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Those units have helped the Houthi-allied forces capture the capital, Sana, and much of Yemen.
Their advance appears to have continued despite the two-week-old Saudi bombing campaign. On Thursday, Al Jazeera television network — owned by Qatar, part of the Saudi coalition — said the Houthi-allied forces had also occupied Ataq, capital of Shabwa Province, taking control of government offices.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose efforts to restart a political dialogue in Yemen have collapsed, implored the Houthis to halt their expansion. But he also has been critical of the Saudi-led military campaign.
“The coalition air raids — and the continuing attempts by the Houthis and their allied armed groups to expand their power — have turned an internal political crisis into a violent conflict that risks deep and long-lasting regional repercussions,” Mr. Ban said at United Nations headquarters.
“The last thing the region and our world need is more of the chaos and crimes we have seen in Libya and Syria,” he said.
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Obama’s Mindless Spin on Iran

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If one were to deny Barack Obama the use of straw-man attacks, misrepresentation of facts, accusations that opponents are operating in bad faith, and other non-sequiturs, one would hear mostly silence coming from the White House. This administration is chronically incapable of having a serious argument with its opponents.
The latest such example of Obama’s speciousness has come, unsurprisingly, on Iran. Via theWashington Free Beaconhere is the response of Marie Harf, the State Department spokeswoman, to the damning op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Henry Kissinger and George Schultz:
“I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives. I heard a lot of big words and big thoughts in that piece. … I didn’t hear a lot of alternatives about what they would do differently.”
Many administration officials have spouted this talking point, to the effect of: OK, you don’t like our deal, but you haven’t offered a deal of your own, so be quiet.
It is pure, unadulterated bunk.
At the risk of offending the president’s monarchical pretensions, allow me to quote from the Constitution. Article II, Section 2 states that the president:
“shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.”
In other words, nobody but the president can put forward a deal. Sure, somebody might propose an idea for him to take to the Iranians. But nobody except the president and his deputies may negotiate a treaty directly with a foreign power. Doing otherwise violates the Logan Act, which is a very serious offense. Moreover, nobody but the President of the United States could practically lead an international coalition, such as the one currently negotiating with Iran.
Furthermore, the Senate would discharge its constitutional duties perfectly if it responds to the president’s deal by effectively declaring, “This deal stinks. Go get a better one.” 
That is the way our government is supposed to run. The president, and the president alone, cuts the deal; then the people, through its representatives in the Congress, evaluate it. The job of the latter is only to advise and consent, not to present an alternative treaty for ratification.
What does the Obama administration think its critics should do? If the Senate Foreign Relations Committee does not like the deal struck, should it travel to Lausanne to hammer out an alternative agreement with Javad Zariff? Of course not! The White House exploded in fury when Senator Tom Cotton penned a public letter that merely reminded the Iranians of the Senate’s advisory role.
The White House wants to have it both ways: only the president can negotiate a deal, but only those who have negotiated a deal have standing disagree with him.
Here is the bottom line: Congress should pass a law, over the president’s veto, giving it the final authority over any Iran deal. Next, it should vote this rotten deal down, and then leave it to the president to figure out what to do next. It should say, in effect: it is not our problem that you negotiated a bad deal; do a better job next time.
It is not the responsibility of the Senate, the House, former secretaries of state, or anybody else to come up with an alternative proposal. It is the job of the president alone.
This is how the Framers thought foreign affairs should be conducted. Team Obama’s mindless spin should just be ignored.
Jay Cost is a staff writer at the Weekly Standard. His new book, A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption, is now available.
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It Begins: The Shaping and Selling of Obama's Legacy

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Perhaps it’s the field of potential and actual candidates who claim to want his job, or thoughts of a presidential library where two terms of Barack Obama history will get tucked away, or the accumulating West Wing farewell parties for close advisers who are moving on.
When two of President Obama’s top aides Tuesday used the “L” word – legacy – and the president on Thursday confided his hopes to do some teaching after he leaves the White House (in a brief exchange with a university chancellor in Jamaica), “the fierce urgency of now,” to borrow an Obama phrase, sounded more like “then” and “when.”
The president is in Panama championing U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba, a centerpiece of this week’s Summit of Americas, where Obama and President Raul Castro are expected to make history by speaking to one another. At the same time, Obama, against tough odds, is trying to explain the merits of a nuclear deal with Iran before it can be completed by the end of June. He’s also nudging U.S. and international climate change commitments forward, and talking up a strengthening U.S. economy. Eyeing states he has not visited as president, Obama flew to Utah last Friday, and will likely complete his visits to all 50 (get ready, South Dakota) soon.
The president’s to-do list remains long, including promises dating to his 2008 campaign that remain incomplete. Meanwhile, the White House has launched a “fourth-quarter” scoreboard for the plays Obama has already run.
“Legacy” is a word with such a rear-view-mirror meaning that many two-term presidents openly chafed when they heard it used prior to their final year in office. But in a modern messaging era (and with a president who authored two books about himself before becoming president), getting even a slight jump on history with an effort at a comprehensive summary is thought to be savvy, especially when so many others inside the Obama administration seemed to get their books out while the president was in office.
For that reason, it was notable Tuesday when Ben Rhodes, Obama’s national security adviser for strategic communications, and Josh Earnest, his White House press secretary, separately used “legacy” to describe the president’s achievements in Central America, and with energy policy.
“I think if you look at the opening to Cuba and the process of normalizing our relations; the Central American initiative that we’ve committed $1 billion to now; the Colombian peace process, [at] which we have designated a special envoy to represent the United States; our focus on energy security; and our 100,000 “Strong in the Americas” initiative, together with the broader economic and export promotion efforts that we’ve undertaken over the last several years, the president has a clear legacy that he is aiming to build in the hemisphere,” Rhodes told reporters.
Hours later, when asked about critiques of Obama’s energy and climate change policies as something of a “mixed bag” in the eyes of environmental experts and advocacy groups, Earnest defended the administration’s “all of the above” energy achievements.
“We can get you some more details about the legacy of this president when it comes to fighting the causes of climate change and making America independent of foreign energy,” the press secretary said. “But there is no doubt that because of the investments that this president championed very early on in his presidency that we have made tremendous progress when it comes to energy efficiency.”
It wasn’t the list of accomplishments Earnest offered that was new. It was the shiny bow he tried to attach using “legacy.”
Looking back at some of Obama’s predecessors as they governed in their final years in office, it was easy to detect when their thumbs pressed the scales to define their administrations’ lasting achievements. And on some topics they simply gave up, knowing that time and events – not their own sales pitches – would control how their decisions and reputations measured up.
In the spring of 1999, after weathering impeachment, President Clinton was asked at a news conference to describe to young people his “legacy” when it came to lying. “How important do you think it is to tell the truth, especially under oath?” a reporter asked.
“I think that what young people will learn from my experience is that even presidents have to do that, and that there are consequences when you don't,” he replied.
“I also think that there will be a box score, and there will be that one negative, and then there will be the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times when the record will show that I did not abuse my authority as president, that I was truthful with the American people,” he added.
That “box score,” as he called it, expanded into Clinton’s list of legacy achievements, which he enumerated in speeches before leaving office, always adding how much there was to keep working on, and noting the work Hillary Clinton had shepherded. His assessment of his presidency began with an account of a strong economy and ended with his focus on benefits for American families.
“We have the fastest economic growth in more than 30 years, the lowest unemployment rate and the smallest welfare rolls in 30 years, over 20 million new jobs, the lowest poverty rate in 20 years, the lowest murder rate in 30 years, the first back-to-back surpluses in our budget in 42 years, the highest homeownership in history,” he told a university audience days before George W. Bush was inaugurated.
Eight years later, awaiting Barack Obama’s inauguration, Bush defended his record, knowing that his Iraq war policies, Hurricane Katrina, and a financial meltdown had driven his public approval ratings into a deep ditch. Interviewers did not ask him about the Bush administration’s now-acknowledged achievements fighting AIDS and malaria in Africa, and the president didn’t bring it up because he and his advisers understood that public perceptions of his presidency ran counter to the narrative of aid to Africa.  
“I am proud of the accomplishments of this administration,” Bush told an interviewer in the Oval Office days before returning to Texas. “I know I gave it my all for eight years. And I did not sell my soul for the sake of popularity. And so when I get back home and look in the mirror, I will be proud of what I see.”
Bush said as president he had defended freedom, kept Americans safe, heeded the Constitution, and he calmly denied ordering the torture of captured and accused terrorists.
With his father, President George H.W. Bush, seated beside him, Bush predicted his record as president would not hamper the political prospects of the Republican Party, even if the 2008 election had swept Democratic candidates into the White House and Congress.
The GOP’s principles were on target, he argued, even as the party’s leaders would have to change.
“We may want to change our messaging. We definitely want to change messengers. We need a new group of leaders,” Bush said. “And we should be open-minded about big issues like immigration reform, because if we're viewed as anti-somebody -- in other words, if the party is viewed as anti-immigrant -- then another fellow may say, `Well, if they're against the immigrant, they may be against me.’ We've got to be a party for a better future, and for hope.”
Asked who he had in mind as a new leader for his party, Bush didn’t pause.
“That would be Gov. Jeb Bush,” he said.