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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/26/2014 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Possible merger could see up to 15,000 additional Islamist militants join ISIS ranks

The situation in Iraq - as if it needs to be said - could grow much, much worse. The number of Islamist extremists fighting for ISIS may double if al-Qaeda's 15,000 strong offshoot in Syria pledged allegiance to the militant group.

Al-Nusra's alleged leader in the Albu Kamel region, Abu Yusuf al-Masri, was shown embracing ISIS fighters after apparently taking an oath of allegiance.

Al-Nusra's alleged leader in the Albu Kamel region, Abu Yusuf al-Masri, was shown embracing ISIS fighters after apparently taking an oath of allegiance.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/26/2014 (9 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: ISIS, Iraq, al-Qaeda, Syria


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The merger is believed to have taken place on the border of Syria and Iraq, in Albu Kamel.

The al-Nusra Front pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in April. Ayman al-Zawahiri has previously condemned ISIS' brutal attempts to establish an Islamic state in the Middle East as too extreme. This has led to a fresh split within al-Qaeda's ranks.

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The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights received news of the merger between ISIS and the al-Nusra front.

Al-Nusra's alleged leader in the Albu Kamel region, Abu Yusuf al-Masri, was shown embracing ISIS fighters after apparently taking an oath of allegiance.

The overall leader of al-Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri has previously disowned ISIS and proclaimed the al-Nusra Front as its official Syrian affiliate.

ISIS has seized Iraq's main northern city Mosul on June 10. The militant group has since marched unopposed towards Baghdad and remains in control of major border posts on the frontier with Syria.

A suicide bombing at a checkpoint in Kirkuk killed two members of the Kurdish security forces as well as killing and wounding dozens of others.

It's the very high price for ignoring advice: U.S. intelligence had warned that the growing threat posed by Sunni insurgents in Iraq at the start of the year. The advice was disregarded, a senior official has claimed.

This comment, made by an unidentified official seems to contradict claims made by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that ISIS' growth could not have be foreseen.

The unnamed official claimed the U.S. had given "strategic warnings" to Iraq about the threat posed by Islamist groups.

"We routinely highlighted [ISIS'] growing threat in Iraq, the increasing difficulties Iraq's security forced faced in combating [ISIS], and the political strains that were contributing to Iraq's declining stability," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in the Middle East this week, gave an alternative account of the threat, claiming "people were surprised everywhere" by ISIS' progress in the country.

The U.S. and Iraq did not sign a formal agreement allowing troops to stay in the country past 2011, so "we didn't have eyes in there," he said. "But the Iraqis didn't even have a sense of what was happening [either]" Kerry added.

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