It takes a nation to protect the nation
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Blood-thirsty jihadists are carrying out summary executions on civilians, Iraqi soldiers and police officers - including 17 in one street alone - on their warpath to Baghdad, the UN said today.
As a shocking picture of the ISIS insurgency continues to develop, the Islamist group are posting barbaric videos online with the intent of showing the world they will stop at nothing to achieve their end game.
In one, which is too graphic to publish, fighters are seen knocking on the door of a Sunni police major in the dead of night.
When he answers, they blindfold and cuff him. Then they carve off his head with a knife in his own bedroom as sweetly lilting religious hymns are played over the top.
An image of the officer's decapitated head was tweeted with the sickening message: 'This is our ball. It is made of skin #WorldCup'. ISIS also claims to have executed 1,700 Shia soldiers on their push for the capital.
Although this figure has not been verified, the UN today warned that hundreds of people are likely to have been killed by the fanatics since the uprising.
This evening, President Barack Obama ruled out sending troops back into combat in Iraq but promised to review military options - including air strikes.
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Taking no prisoners: In this video, ISIS fighters are seen knocking on the door of a Sunni police major in the dead of night before blindfolding and handcuffing him
Crazed: Jihadists are carrying out summary executions on civilians, soldiers and police officers including this police major after taking control of large swathes of Iraq
Grim: As the images emerged on Twitter, ISIS also claimed to have executed 1,700 Shia soldiers on their push for the capital
Shock and awe: An ISIS propaganda video shows militants blindfolding a Sunni police major in his home before cutting off his head
Propaganda warfare: The aim of the video is to terrorise Sunnis in Iraq's army and police forces and deepen their already low morale
Barbaric: This picture (right) of the police officer's decapitated head resting on his legs was tweeted with the message: 'This is our ball. It is made of skin#WorldCup'
On the terror trail: The police officer was handcuffed at his home in the dead of night after answering the door to the Islamist fighters
President Obama said his national security team would soon provide him with a list of 'selective actions by our military' to help push back a terrorist horde marching through Iraq, but insisted the US 'will not be sending troops back into combat' there.
He also said he would be 'reviewing options in the days ahead,' in a hastily scheduled statement given on the South Lawn of the White House.
Current Secretary of State John Kerry said that 'given the gravity of the situation' he would 'anticipate timely decisions from the president regarding the challenge' in Iraq.
'We have already taken some immediate steps,' he said, 'including providing enhanced aerial surveillance support to assist the Iraqis in this fight. We have also ramped up shipments of military aid to Iraq since the beginning of the year.'
Tonight, Iraq's Prime Minister claimed his forces had started to clear cities of ‘terrorists’.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who travelled to Samarra today for a security meeting, said his forces had ‘began their work to clear all our dear cities from these terrorists,’.
However, he gave no further details of where or when the operations occurred.
The aim of ISIS is to terrorise Sunnis in Iraq's army and police forces and deepen their already low morale.
That fear is one factor behind the stunning collapse of Iraqi security forces. In most cases, police and soldiers simply ran, sometimes shedding their uniforms and abandoned arsenals of heavy weapons.
In another video, also purportedly taken by ISIS militants, gunmen are seen carrying out indiscriminate drive-by shootings on motorists and pedestrians.
Armed with a machine-gun, the gang film themselves shooting cars off the road then move in to video close-ups of the victims' blood-stained bodies slumped in the seats. In another clip, they gun down a pedestrian.
The footage, which cannot be independently verified, contains the same logo used in a video posted earlier this week showing an Iraqi businessman being shot in the back of the head.
The British Foreign Office said it was 'very concerned' with the escalating violence and was 'not going to take its eye off the ball'.
Ill-gotten gains: This tweeted picture apparently shows ISIS commander Skeikh Umar Al Shishani inspecting an American Humvee
Shocking: Footage reportedly taken by ISIS militants shows Islamist fighters randomly shooting pedestrians and motorists as they take over towns and cities in Iraq
Indiscriminate: A car flies off the road after the driver is shot dead by gunmen in video purportedly posted online by ISIS militants
Sickening: The gunmen film themselves shooting cars off the road then move in to video close-ups of the victims' blood-stained bodies slumped in the seats
Brutal: The footage, which cannot be independently verified, contains the same logo used in video posted earlier this week showing a businessman being shot in the head
More than 20 British nationals are thought to be trapped in rebel-held areas, although officials say there are no plans as yet to stage evacuations in the north or from Baghdad.
However, Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain might offer assistance with counter-terrorism expertise to authorities in Iraq.
Speaking after talks on Iraq with US Secretary of State John Kerry in London, Mr Hague stressed that Britain has no intention of putting military boots on the ground in the country.
But he said that a team from the Department for International Development was now on the ground in northern Iraq to see what humanitarian help the UK can give.
He also made clear that Britain is also ready to advise the Baghdad administration on counter-terrorism efforts.
Meanwhile, John Kerry said: 'The bottom line is ISIS is a threat, not just to Iraq and to the entire region, but it is a threat to Europe, the United States, and other countries in the world, and obviously with the number of foreign fighters that have been assembled in Syria this remains a very significant issue.'
ISIS fighters are moving ever closer to the capital after capturing two towns in the eastern province of Diyala as security forces abandoned their posts.
Iraqi security forces, who have until now fled the insurgency, are gathering at a base just 20 miles outside Baghdad ready to protect the city as the threat of all-war loomed.
Security sources said the towns of Saadiyah and Jalawla had fallen to the insurgents, as well as several other villages around the Himreen mountains, which have long been a hideout for militants.
U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colvill said the number of people killed after Sunni Islamist militants overran the city of Mosul earlier this week may run into the hundreds.
Marauders: Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant celebrate on American Humvees taken from Iraqi security forces along a street in city of Mosul
On the warpath to Baghdad: Jubilant ISIS militants stage a parade of American Humvee patrol cars seized from a collapsing Iraqi army as they head to capital
Unrelenting march: Security sources said the towns of Saadiyah and Jalawla had fallen to the insurgents, as well as several other villages around the Himreen mountains
No resistance: The masked ISIS fighters waved the black flag of the Islamic State and flashed the 'V' sign while some shouted 'towards Baghdad'
Security services are 'monitoring very closely' concerns that hundreds of British Muslims have signed up with extreme jihadist group ISIS and gone to fight in Iraq.
The Government believes more than 500 British citizens have left the UK to join rebel fighters in Syria, with many of them feared to have crossed the border to join the uprising in Iraq.
The ruthless ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) extremists control large areas of land in Syria and are now turning their attention to Iraq and particularly Baghdad, having already taken the cities of Mosul and Tikrit.
Meanwhile, British security experts are also looking at the possibility that home-grown extremists trained by the ultra-violent group may bring terror back to the UK.
One terror expert told MailOnline today: 'There is a fairly high chance that someone will attempt it.'
More than 500 British Muslims are believed to have already travelled to Syria to fight against President Assad, and it is feared many more will join them.
Many of them are now feared to have crossed the barely-existent border into Iraq with the ultra-violent ISIS militia.
He said four women had killed themselves after being raped, 16 Jordanians had been kidnapped, and prisoners released by the militants had been looking to exact revenge on those responsible for their incarceration.
'We've also had reports suggesting that the government forces have also committed excesses, in particular the shelling of civilian areas on 6 and 8 June,' he said. 'There are claims that up to 30 civilians may have been killed.'
Meanwhile, the UN said Iraq's refugee population has increased by almost 800,000 this year as the government struggles against rebels and Islamic militants, the United Nations says.
The UN's refugee agency said 300,000 people fled this week alone in Irbil and Duhok as Islamic militants seized control of large areas in northern Iraq.
UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said many of the refugees are arriving with little more than the clothes they wear and have no money and nowhere to go.
As they surged towards the capital, one faction from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant staged a jubilant parade of American Humvee patrol cars seized from the collapsing Iraqi army complete with a flypast in captured former U.S. helicopters.
ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani called on his fighters to stay focused on the task ahead, warning them: 'Do not let your egos fall prey to your recent military gains such as Humvees, helicopters, rifles and military equipment.'
In a sign of increasing concern, President Barack Obama abruptly changed course on Iraq last night, saying that he wouldn't 'rule out anything' as he searches for ways to help the ailing Iraqi army push back the terrorist horde.
'We do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold,' Mr Obama said in the Oval Office.
In a video released last night, masked ISIS fighters waved the black flag of the Islamic State and flashed the 'V' sign while some shouted 'towards Baghdad!' as they paraded in stolen Humvees.
This evening, President Obama ruled out sending troops back into combat in Iraq but promised to review military options - including air strikes
Barack Obama said his national security team will soon provide him with a list of 'selective actions by our military' to help push back a terrorist horde marching through Iraq, but insisted that the US 'will not be sending troops back into combat' there
The US President said he will be 'reviewing options in the days ahead,' in a hastily scheduled statement on the South Lawn of the White House
Saddam Hussein's oldest daughter says she is 'very happy' with the ISIS insurgency.
Raghad Saddam Hussein,pictured right, praised one of father's former aides, Izzat al Douri, who reportedly joined the Islamist militants in their takeover of Mosul.
He was reportedly linked to a group of former Iraqi army officers.
She said: 'I am very happy with the victories achieved by my father's men'.
Witnesses saw ISIS fly two helicopters over the parade, apparently the first time the militant group has obtained aircraft in years of waging insurgency on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian frontier.
It was unclear who the pilots were, but Sunnis who served in the forces of Saddam Hussein have rallied to the insurgency.
Despite vastly outnumbering the jihadists, government troops have melted away in the face of the insurgents, allowing them to capture two helicopters, 15 tanks, weapons and several armoured cars that used to belong to the American military.
U.S. officials said a $1billion package of military assistance and the sale of 36 F-16s to Iraq was being accelerated, but was unlikely to help in the short term.
This came as top U.S. weapons maker Lockheed Martin said about 25 employees working with the Iraqi air force as it prepared for the arrival of the jets were being evacuated from the Balad area in northern Iraq as a result of the violence.
In Jalawla, Kurdish peshmerga forces deployed more men to secure their political party offices before the insurgents arrived in the town. There were no confrontations between them.
The Iraqi army fired artillery at Saadiya and Jalawla from the nearby town of Muqdadiya, sending dozens of families fleeing towards Khaniqin near the Iranian border, security sources said.
Drive-by looting: Despite vastly outnumbering the jihadists, government troops have melted away in the face of the insurgents
Jubilant: ISIS fighters who do not recognise the region's modern frontiers have seized Mosul and Tikrit, Saddam's home town, and other towns north of Baghdad
Sabre-rattling: An Islamic militant issues a call to arms, saying: 'Declare Allah the Greatest! Allah is the Greatest!' in a video released by ISIS
Trail of destruction: Militants of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant damage a patrol car of Iraq army in the city of Mosul
On the warpath to Baghdad: A graphic showing the town and cities captured by ISIS over the last few days
Wanted: Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi
The United States once had Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in custody at a detention facility in Iraq, but president Barack Obama let him go, it has emerged.
Al Baghdadi, who also goes by the name Abu Du'a, was among the prisoners released in 2009 from the US's now-closed Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in Iraq.
But now, five years later, he is the head of a group of ruthless extremists who are bearing down on Baghdad, burning down everything in their way and carrying out executions on Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police officers.
It is unclear why the US let the merciless al-Qaeda leader slip away, however, one theory proposed by The Telegraph is that al Baghadadi was granted amnesty along with thousands of other detainees because the US was preparing to pull out of Iraq.
The United States began withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2010, and Camp Bucca closed in 2011 along with the United States' other military facilities as President Obama declared that the War in Iraq had come to an end.
Another possible explanation is that al Baghadadi did not become a jihadist until after his release from Camp Bucca.
The US now has a $10 million warrant out for Baghdadi, who is accused of bombing a mosque in Baghdad in 2011 and killing former Sunni lawmaker Khalid al-Fahdawl.
Al Baghadadi and his troops had already taken key cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in Iraq earlier this year and have conquered the Iraqi cities of Tikrit and Mosul within the last several days.
They are now on the war path to Iraq's capital city of Baghdad.
According to bitter Iraqi footsoldiers, their commanders slipped away in the night rather than mount a defence of the city.
ISIS overran the northern city of Mosul earlier this week and have since pressed south towards Baghdad in an onslaught against the Shi'ite-led government.
Mr Adnani also dismissed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as woefully incompetent, calling him an 'underwear merchant'.
'What have you done to your people, O foolish one. No-one is more foolish than you but those who accept you as the president and commander,' Adnani mocked him in a translated statement.
The Kurds, who run their own autonomous region in the north, have taken advantage of the chaos to expand their territory, taking control of the oil-rich of Kirkuk and other areas outside the formal boundary of their enclave.
Mr Obama said he was weighing up a range of options, including possible airstrikes, to tackle an insurgency by Islamic militants in Iraq - although officials have ruled out putting American soldiers back on the ground.
Iraq has faced resurgent violence since the US military withdrew in late 2011.
A sharp burst of violence this week led to the evacuation of Americans from a major air base in northern Iraq where the US had been training security forces.
'Strategic error of gargantuan proportions': Major-General Julian Thompson has condemned the invasion of Iraq in 2003
A senior British military figure says the UK's 2003 invasion of Iraq was a 'cock up we will be living with for the next 50 years'.
Major-General Julian Thompson commanded Plymouth based 3 Commando Brigade during the 1982 Falklands War.
He blamed UK politicians for the 'complete mess' in Iraq and fears for the future.
He said: 'Iraq was a strategic error of gargantuan proportions. I was against us going in from the very beginning in 2003.
'I didn't say so at the time with the boys (3 Commando Brigade) going in, but it was wrong.
'It was not the right thing to do. This was not a military cock-up, it was a political cock up. And it is a cock up we will be living with for the next 50 years.
'Saddam Hussein was not a nice guy, but he kept the lid on extremism.He held the balance of power between the Iranians and the Arab World.
'People are far worse off now than they were when he was there. I don't care what Tony Blair says, these people are not better off.
'Blair is guilty of getting us into a position we shouldn't have got into.
'We will not go back in - at least I certainly hope not. We couldn't sort it out the first time, we'd just make it worse if we went back.
'Rather like a disease we need to rope it off do it doesn't affect us. We have to be cold blooded. Our security must come first.
'However sorry we may be for the people of Iraq, there is nothing we can do. We do not want to reinforce failure.'
Armed and dangerous: This video reportedly shows dozens of vehicles including several Police SUVs, large military trucks and at least two artillery weapons
Bringing out the big guns: The insurgents have apparently seized this long-range American artillery canon which they are towing towards Baghdad
In the swathe of seized regions across northern Iraq, ISIS has declared hardline Sharia law, publishing the following set of strict rules:
Translated by The Independent
Mr Obama, in his first comments on the deteriorating situation, said it was clear Iraq needed additional assistance from the US and the international community given the lightning gains by the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
'What we've seen over the last couple of days indicates Iraq’s going to need more help' from the United States and other nations, Obama said in the Oval Office.
He added that the U.S. has been working 'around the clock' to find appropriate ways to intervene.
Republican politicians pinned some of the blame for the escalating violence on Mr Obama's reluctance to re-engage in a conflict he long opposed.
For more than a year, the Iraqi government has been pleading with the US for additional help to combat the insurgency, which has been fuelled by the civil war in neighbouring Syria.
Northern Iraq has become a way station for insurgents who routinely travel between the two countries and are spreading the Syrian war's violence.
Iraqi leaders made a fresh request earlier this week, asking for a mix of drones and manned aircraft that could be used for both surveillance and active missions.
Officials said Mr Obama was considering those requests and was expected to decide on a course of action within a few days.
The US is already flying unmanned aircraft over Iraq for intelligence purposes, an official said.
Short of airstrikes, the president could step up the flow of military assistance to the beleaguered Iraqi government, increase training exercises for the country's security forces and help boost Iraq's intelligence capabilities.
The U.S. has been leery of its lethal aid falling into the hands of militants or being otherwise misused.
Boko Haram’s commitment to the jihadi group the Islamic State, has just become even more pronounced, after the Nigerian terrorist organization changed its name to ISWAP or Islamic State’s West Africa Province.
The move appears to give the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) a foothold outside of the Middle East and North Africa for the first time, as the terrorist organization tries to create a global caliphate.
Links between the two militant Islamist organizations have grown over the last year. A recent video released by IS sang the praises of Boko Haram fighters, while the Nigeria-based militant group also released a propaganda video, via IS’s social media channels.
The accounts dropped the name Boko Haram, as well as its official title, Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, Arabic for “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad.” Instead the Nigerian group was referred to as ISWAP.
The photographs all carried the logos, which have been typically seen in official IS material that has been published. This would appear to show that the terror group, which has carved out large amounts of territory in Iraq and Syria has taken full control of Boko Haram’s propaganda. It is also the first time in over a month that Boko Haram has officially released any footage of their militants.
The faces of the African militant fighters were not covered, while some were also wearing uniforms. Photographs showed the jihadists menacingly brandishing guns and rocket launchers, while the black and white flag belonging to IS was also clearly visible. The Nigeria-based Daily Times mentioned the photos were probably taken in the Sambisa Forest, which is believed to be the group’s last stronghold.
In March, the leader of the Nigerian terror group, Abubakar Shekau, pledged allegiance to IS. The group accepted the vow.
“Our caliph, God save him, has accepted the pledge of loyalty of our brothers of Boko Haram so we congratulate Muslims and our jihadi brothers in West Africa,” Reuters quoted Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad Adnani as saying in an audio message in March. He was referring to self-proclaimed IS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi.
Boko Haram, which was founded in 2002 and means ‘Western education is forbidden,’ has suffered a series of demoralizing defeats in recent weeks against what seems to be, a rejuvenated Nigerian army. They had previously controlled an area the size of Belgium. Troops from Cameroon, Chad and Niger have also joined the pan-African fight against Boko Haram. According to Amnesty International estimations in January, the militant force had around 15,000 troops at their disposal.
The Nigerian terrorist organization has been concentrated in the north east of Nigeria. They have tired to carve out an Islamic caliphate, which adheres to a strict interpretation of Sharia law. The group shocked the world in 2014 after taking over 200 girls hostage from a school, with the intention of selling them at markets. An international hunt to try and find the girls has so far failed.
They have also carried out numerous bombing missions and often targeted schools and education facilities. The Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, stated that Boko Haram killed more than 10,000 people in 2014.
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Mother forced by Muslim beasts to kill and eat her own child: