Jihad Group Sweeping Through Iraq, More Cities Fall

ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), the jihadist group wreaking havoc in Syria for more than a year, has gained control of the Nineveh province in its country of birth - post-US invasion Iraq. Reports late Wednesday said the extremists had taken control of the city of Tikrit.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki had asked parliament Tuesday to declare a state of emergency after jihadists overran further swathes of the country, including half of Nineveh’s capital city of Mosul, the second largest Iraqi city after Baghdad, sending more than 500,000 people fleeing.

On Wednesday morning, Al Jazeera reported in its headline story that ISIS fighters had taken control of an oil refinery in the city of Baiji and was on the move towards the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

Twitter was alive with graphic pictures and videos as well as predictions for how ISIS's growing influence might be curbed.

An ISIS sympathizer in Qatar tweeted an image of Iraq, with ISIS controlled territory in black. “The banner (there is no god but God and Muhammad is His prophet) of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is spreading thanks to God.”

تتمدد بفضل الله راية لا اله الا الله محمدا رسول الله الدولة الاسلامية في العراق و الشام

— جليبيب  باقية (@joulaybib_dawla) June 11, 2014

In the meantime, jihadi expert Aaron Zelin tweeted pessimistically about the possibilities of stopping ISIS’s march.

The only local power that can take on ISIS in Iraq is Iran & it's proxies. There will be consequences for that when it becomes more overt.

— Aaron Y. Zelin (@azelin) June 11, 2014

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Dutch Cities Have Been Secretly Probing Mosques Since 2013

Revelations of a nationally funded clandestine operation within 10 municipalities in the Netherlands to keep tabs on mosques and Muslim organizations after a rise in radicalization eight years ago.

The Nasser mosque in Veenendaal, one of the mosques reportedly surveilled

Meike Eijsberg

At least ten Dutch towns and cities have secretly used a private agency to probe mosques and other local religious organizations, Amsterdam-based daily het NRC reports in an exclusive investigation.

The clandestine operation — funded by NCTV, the National Security Services, the Netherlands' leading counter-terrorism agency — was prompted by the social unrest and uncertainty following multiple terror attacks in 2013, and a rise in Islamic radicalization.

The NCTV, which advises and financially supports municipalities in countering radicalization, put the municipalities in touch with Nuance by Training and Advice (Nuance door Trainingen en Advies, NTA), a private research agency based in Deventer, Netherlands. Among the institutions targeted by the investigations, which came at a cost of circa 500,000 euros, were the Al Mouahidin mosque in the central Dutch town of Ede, and the Nasser mosque east of the city of Utrecht, according to NRC.

Photo of people standing on prayer mats inside a Dutch mosque

Praying inside a Dutch mosque.


Broken trust in Islamic community

Unlike public officials, the private agency can enter the mosques to clandestinely research the situation. In this case, the agents observed activity, talk to visitors, administrators, and religious leaders, and investigated what they do and say on social media.

All findings then wound up in a secret report which includes personal details about what the administrators and teachers studied, who their relatives are, with whom they argued, and how often they had contact with authorities in foreign countries, like Morocco.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed.

It is unclear whether the practice is legal, which is why several members of the Dutch Parliament are now demanding clarification from the outgoing Minister of Justice and Security, Ferd Grapperhaus, who is said to be involved.

"The ease with which the government violates (fundamental) rights when it comes to Islam or Muslims is shocking," Stephan van Baarle, member of the leftist party DENK, told De Volkskrant, another Dutch newspaper.

Leaders of the Muslim organizations that were secretly probed say they feel betrayed. Hassan Saidi, director of one of the mosques investigated, said that the relationship with the local municipality had been good. "This puts a huge dent in the trust I'd had in the municipality," he told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.

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