2.2m Iraqis Displaced by IS

2.2m Iraqis Displaced by IS2.2m Iraqis Displaced by IS

A Norwegian humanitarian group said a record 38 million people have been internally displaced in their countries worldwide, with 2.2 million Iraqis alone forced to flee from their homes in 2014 after the Islamic State militant group overrun large swaths of the country.

The study by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Center was released Wednesday. It says 11 million were displaced last year — mostly because of conflicts in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), accounting for 60 percent of the new displacement.

The group said at least 1.1 million Syrians also fled their homes last year, AP said in a report.

Syria has the highest number of internally displaced, with 7.6 million dislodged because of the conflict, now in its fifth year. That’s at least 35 percent of the population.

  Bounty for IS Leaders

The United States ratcheted up pressure on the IS leaders on Tuesday, adding four names to those targeted by multi-million-dollar bounties.

The militant with the largest price -- $7 million -- on his head is Abdel Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, who was designated a global terrorist for the purpose of US Treasury sanctions in May last year.

The State Department alleged that he had been a deputy to the late leader of Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi faction, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and had travelled to Syria to join the IS in 2012 after he was freed from an Iraqi jail. The US Treasury lists Qaduli as an Iraqi, born in either 1957 or 1959 in the city of Mosul.

A Syrian militant, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, whose birth name is Taha Sobhi Falaha and who is approximately 38 years old, is now subject to a $5 million reward for information leading to his death or capture.

The statement describes him as an IS spokesman who has repeatedly called for attacks on the US.

Tarkhan Batirashvili, better known as as Omar al-Shishani, is also under a $5 million bounty. The 29-year-old Georgian is accused of overseeing a prison outside the IS stronghold of Raqa where several foreign hostages were held.

There is a $3 million bounty on the head of Tariq bin al-Tahar bin al-Falih al-Awni al-Harzi, a 33-year-old Tunisian. He is accused of acting as an IS fundraiser in the Persian Gulf states and later as a field commander in Syria and as head of a unit of suicide bombers.

The Iraqi leader of the IS group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was already the subject of a $10-million reward under the program.

 Ready to Attack

The extremist group said in an online post that it has militants across the US who are ready to fight at any given moment.

“We have 71 trained soldiers in 15 different states ready at our word to attack any target we desire,” the post said Tuesday. Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California and Michigan are among the 15 states where IS has stationed its militants.

According to the message, out of these 71 trained soldiers, 23 signed up for attacks like the one carried out by IS on the Prophet Muhammad cartoon exhibition in Dallas, Texas on Sunday.

The group also said in a post that its aim was the exhibition’s organizer and controversial US blogger Pamela Geller. “We will send all our Lions to achieve her slaughter,” the group said.

On Tuesday, IS said on its official radio that the attack on the cartoon exhibition was conducted by its fighters. IS has been mainly operating in Syria and Iraq, but it has been making attempts to branch out to other countries as well, Libya, Afghanistan and Pakistan among them.