Among villas in Iraq’s Mosul, Daesh media center

Iraqi forces launched a major push to recapture the west of Mosul from Daesh jihadist group, retaking the airport and then advancing north. (AFP)
Updated 03 March 2017

Among villas in Iraq’s Mosul, Daesh media center

IRAQ: The Daesh group media center was hidden in plain sight in an upscale part of a west Mosul neighborhood now recaptured by Iraqi forces.
Inside a two-story villa, complete with a garden and a shed, Daesh produced placards and broadcast its Al-Bayan radio station, according to Iraqi forces and residents.
“The neighbors told us that they Daesh produced their adverts here,” said Lt. Col. Abdulamir Al-Mohammedawi, of the interior ministry’s elite Rapid Response Division.
“And after we came in and examined it completely, we discovered that it was a media center that broadcast the Al-Bayan radio station.”
The building was set alight by Daesh fighters as they fled the neighborhood, Mohammedawi said, and little was left behind.
Inside, the walls were caked with black soot all the way up the roof, where a toy car was untouched.
The kitchen was virtually unrecognizable, and reams of documents were reduced to ash by the fire.
A handful of calculators, some melted but others intact, sat by the kitchen entrance, and the shells of computer hard drive towers were still visible.
“Everything is totally burnt... we found a few computers, adverts, some CDs, which will be taken to the intelligence unit,” said Mohammedawi.
He said radio broadcasting equipment had also been found, and Rapid Response members were seen moving a sound mixing board.
“This place used to belong to Daesh, no one entered it because it was forbidden,” said neighbor Obaida Radwan, 22, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
“They used it as a media point, to print their adverts, the ones you see on the street,” he told AFP
“It was also used... for the Al-Bayan radio station.”
Daesh has developed a sophisticated media output that experts say is a key plank of its operations.
It has used Al-Bayan, along with its other media channels, to claim attacks overseas, including the Orlando nightclub shooting that killed 50 people in June.
It also regularly distributes material intended to lionize its fighters and romanticize life under its rule in the hope of attracting recruits.
“Propaganda is everything for Daesh,” said Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College.
“Not just in terms of its ability to brand itself around the world but also to sustain some level of acquiescence in its heartland in Syria and Iraq,” he said.
Daesh own media, as well as discoveries made in territory recaptured from the group, show it often erects large placards with its religious rules, including instructing women on the all-covering clothes they must wear in its domain.
Winter said it was unsurprising the group had set fire to its Jawsaq center to protect its secrets.
“They are perhaps more secretive about the media than they are about almost any other aspect of the organization,” he said.
“That’s because it’s so important to them, it’s a way for them to weather losses, to embed themselves in people’s mind even if their territorial hold is tenuous.”
Among the ashes of the villa’s contents was one untouched box outside by a window. It contained hundreds of square covers for use with CDs distributed by IS.
Winter said the remaining contents of the house suggested it could have been used to produce materials to be distributed at “media kiosks,” which IS set up in areas under its control to disseminate propaganda touting its achievements.
But he suggested the villa, in a residential neighborhood where everyone knew the building was a media hub, would not have been a major part of Daesh propaganda output.
“I’d be very surprised if they made any of the videos, did any of the post-production or kept any of the narrators in a place as public as that,” he said.
“I think that would be somewhere very, very secret.”
Iraqi forces began an operation to capture west Mosul on February 19, after pushing Daesh out of the city’s east bank.
The operation is progressing slowly but steadily, with the urban setting making fighting more difficult and dangerous for troops.


Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

Updated 07 December 2019

Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

  • Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption

BEIRUT: Three lawmakers and members of Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s parliamentary bloc will not abide by its decision to name a new prime minister on Monday. 

Meanwhile, activists in the civil movement are holding meetings to announce a general strike and the blocking of roads on Monday in protest over reports that the new government will not include technocrats.

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption. He later said he would not agree to head a new government unless it consisted of technocrats.

Lawmaker Neemat Frem urged citizens to provide him with the name of their favorite candidate to head the new government, “for you are the primary source of authority, and it is my duty to convey your voice in the binding parliamentary consultations.”

Lawmaker Chamel Roukoz said he will not nominate anyone for the position of prime minister.

Lawmaker Michel Daher declared his intention to boycott the parliamentary consultations if Al-Khatib is the only candidate.

Aoun assured a delegation of British financial and investment institutions, and US bank Morgan Stanley, that binding parliamentary consultations will take place on Monday to form a new government, which will help Lebanon’s friends launch agreed-to development projects.

“The new government’s priority will be to address the economic and financial conditions as soon as it is formed,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

On Friday, Hariri sent letters to the leaders of a number of countries with good relations with Lebanon. 

He asked them to help Lebanon secure credit to import goods from these countries, in order to ensure food security and availability of raw materials for production in various sectors.

His media office said the move “is part of his efforts to address the shortage of financial liquidity, and to secure procuring the basic import requirements for citizens.”

Among the leaders Hariri wrote to are Saudi Arabia’s King Salman; the presidents of France, Russia, Egypt and Turkey; the prime ministers of China and Italy; and the US secretary of state.

On Dec. 11, Paris is due to host a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. Reuters quoted a European source as saying: “France has already sent invitations to attend the group meeting.”

Protesters continued their sit-ins in front of government institutions in Nabatieh, Zahle and Saida.

In Tripoli, protesters blocked the city’s main roads, which were eventually reopened by the army.

In Akkar, protesters raided public institutions and called for an “independent government that fights corruption, restores looted funds, and rescues the economic situation and living conditions from total collapse.”

Lebanese designer Robert Abi Nader canceled a fashion show that was due to be organized in Downtown Beirut, where protesters are gathering. 

Abi Nader said he intended through his show to express support for the protests by designing a special outfit called “the bride of the revolution,” and revenues were to be dedicated to families in need.