An elite special operations branch within the Islamic State is creating a network of hundreds of foreign fighters who are actively planning multiple coordinated attacks across Europe.
The branch is known as Emni in Arabic, and is headed by chief ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, The New York Times reports. Adnani is famous for appearing in ISIS videos calling on would-be terrorists to carry out lone wolf attacks on non-believers, and even justifying the deaths of fellow muslims inadvertently killed. Emni reportedly identifies foreign fighters upon their arrival, and then tries to recruit them for operations abroad.
Emni has three branches according to a former German fighter, including a “secret service” for European, Asian, and Arab affairs. These branches provide support networks, training, money, and communications for would-be terrorists throughout a given domain. The fighter elaborated that Emni has sent “hundreds” of foreign fighters, and that ISIS wants, “to have loads of attacks at the same time in England and Germany and France.”
When the fighter asked if they were having trouble recruiting fighters in France, ISIS representatives reportedly laughed in his face and told him they had plenty of recruits. Nearly all of the November 15 Paris attackers, were graduates of the “secret service for European affairs,” and were in direct communication with their handlers in Syria. The leader of the European affairs branch is reportedly a Frenchman who goes by Abu Souleymane al-Faransi. A survivor of the Paris attacks told police he overheard one terrorist ask the other, “Should we call Souleymane?”
Emni represents the enduring threat of ISIS to the west for years to come, a threat officials are only now acknowledging. The Obama administration has continually defined success against ISIS in terms of territory seized from the group in Iraq and Syria. Emni demonstrates that ISIS has used its territory to spawn a network across the globe of battle hardened fighters, who can carry out operations in the name of ISIS without any real tie to the parent caliphate.
Even FBI Director James Comey told a conference at Fordham University that defeated ISIS fighters would spread throughout Western Europe and the United States, and pose a threat to the U.S. greater than al-Qaida in the lead up to 9/11.
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