Rukmini Callimachi Profile picture
Correspondent for The New York Times, covering ISIS and al-Qaeda. Previously, seven years in West Africa. Ex-AP bureau chief. Ex-refugee.
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Sep 12, 2018 11 tweets 4 min read
1. Do you remember the days when the news alerts announcing terror attacks seemed to come one after another? So here’s the good news: Terror attacks carried out in the name of ISIS in the West have dropped dramatically. (Read next tweet for the bad news).… 2. Data collected by @gwupoe shows a steep drop in successful ISIS attacks in Europe and America, from 14 in 2015, to 22 in 2016, to 27 in 2017, to —- wait for this — just four in the first eight months of 2018. It’s an absolutely jaw-dropping decline:
Sep 11, 2018 8 tweets 3 min read
1. Today, the Coalition fighting ISIS announced the start of the operation to take back the town of Hajin, the last sliver of land under the group’s control in Iraq and Syria:… 2. From a territory once the size of Britain, ISIS has lost all but 1% of its land holdings in Iraq & Syria. The Coalition-back Syrian Democratic Forces are now clearing the last 200 sq. miles of ISIS real estate. What ISIS still holds is concentrated around the town of Hajin
Sep 10, 2018 10 tweets 4 min read
1. Some big news: I found the first cache of ISIS documents during an embed with Iraqi troops in the village of Omar Khan in 2016. From that day until now, I’ve struggled with the question of how to make the records we discovered & saved available both to Iraqis & to the public? 2. My team returned to Iraq five times, spending months in the field, collecting some 15,000+ pages of internal ISIS records. It took 3 months for a professional scanner in Delaware to digitize them, and last week, the trove was handed over to Iraq via it’s embassy in Washington.
Aug 7, 2018 19 tweets 7 min read
1. Twenty years ago today, al-Qaeda bombed the U.S embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing scores of people and inaugurating the era of global terror, where jihadists sought to kill Westerners and anyone allied with them at all four corners of the world. 2. One iteration of that movement took the lives of a young American couple who were biking around the world. Just over a week ago in Tajikistan, they were crushed to death by a car driven by men who appear to have pledged allegiance to ISIS:…
Jul 31, 2018 8 tweets 4 min read
6. They hold hands and pledge allegiance to “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Quraishi,” the long honorific for the ISIS leader. At their feet is a knife. Can you spot it? 7. Here’s what’s interesting: The Tajik ministry released a statement saying they had killed several of the attackers, & included photographs of their bodies. Compare the blond assailant in the ISIS pledge video and the picture that the ministry released:
Jul 31, 2018 5 tweets 2 min read
1. In addition to claiming responsibility for the hit-and-run in Tajikistan, ISIS also released a video purporting to show the five attackers pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi:… 2. Of the hundreds of attacks worldwide that ISIS has issued claims for, it has only released a pledge video for a minority. While the video doesn’t mean the attack was directed by ISIS, it does mean the attackers at a minimum had a digital connection to the group
Jul 30, 2018 10 tweets 5 min read
1. ISIS has claimed responsibility for a deadly car ramming in the former Soviet Republic of Tajikistan which killed four cyclists yesterday, including two Americans, as well as a Swiss and a Dutch national. The bulletin on Amaq was issued first in Arabic & later in French 2. Like in numerous past claims, ISIS describes the attackers as "soldiers of the Islamic State," but then says that the assailants were "responding to calls to target citizens of Coalition countries," which is the phrasing they use to denote attacks inspired by their propaganda.
Jul 26, 2018 6 tweets 2 min read
1. Police say there is no evidence to date that the Toronto shooter was linked to ISIS. A family friend just confirmed to me that the coroner has informed the family that Faisal Hussain shot himself in the head. Suicide is a major no-no in jihadist circles. 2. But the fact that ISIS claimed the attack - and no, ISIS doesn't claim every attack (they have been right more than they have been wrong) - has reignited the debate on whether someone that is mentally ill can in fact be acting at the behest of a terrorist group?
Jul 25, 2018 8 tweets 3 min read
1. The Islamic State has issued a bulletin on its Amaq News Agency, claiming responsibility for the attack in Toronto which left two dead. The shooter is described as “a soldier of the Islamic State” & they say he responded to “the call” to target citizens of Coalition countries 2. The phrasing regarding “responding to calls to target citizens of Coalition countries” is a reference to a famous 2014 speech by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the group’s spokesman. In that speech, Adnani enjoined ISIS’ supporters around the world to attack in their communities
Jul 19, 2018 5 tweets 2 min read
1. A big development from the battlefield in Syria: Coalition forces have captured an American man suspected of having fought for ISIS. His name is Ibraheem Musaibli, a 28-year-old from Michigan and we are the first to break this news:… 2. Only a few dozen Americans made it all the way to Syria to join the jihad. @SeamusHughes's database at @gwupoe has counted 71, a third of whom have died. Only a handful of the men have been captured alive on the battlefield - Musaibli is only the second to be arrested in Syria
Jul 2, 2018 24 tweets 9 min read
1. Good afternoon all, today I'm sharing with you the in-depth investigation we did into how ISIS used prosecuted petty crime in the areas under their control as a way to win local favor. This piece is based on 400+ records from one ISIS police station:… 2. We all know about ISIS' crimes: The Yazidi genocide; the ethnic cleansing of Christians & Shias; the brutal punishments it meted out to those who didn't abide by their strict codes, from stonings to beheadings. Less well known is what they did to win points with the population
May 25, 2018 32 tweets 14 min read
1. Hello everyone, yesterday Ch 6 of the #Caliphate podcast went live, detailing how we fact-checked Abu Huzayfah's story. At least 15 @nytimes reporters, stringers and translators worked to bring you that one episode. Follow along for the back story:… 2. By now, you've heard the detailed account of murder by one Canadian member of ISIS. As many of you have asked, why in the world would this young man admit to such crimes in an interview with the @nytimes? I'm finally able to reveal that we began speaking to him 1.5 yrs ago
Apr 26, 2018 9 tweets 4 min read
1. Hello everyone, Chapter 2 of #Caliphate is now up on iTunes, Spotify etc. In this episode, we explore the ideas - boiled down to three religious concepts- that are used to lure potential recruits to ISIS.… 2. I’d spoken to numerous ISIS recruits and had a general sense of how the recruitment worked. But it wasn’t until I sat down with former al-Qaeda recruiter @_JesseMorton that it began to make sense. After being released from jail, Jesse has worked to deradicalize others.
Apr 22, 2018 11 tweets 4 min read
ISIS’ al-Furqan media is teasing a new release, coming soon. This is the media outlet that has previously carried speeches by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as well as the ISIS spokesman: 2/ Audio is out. It’s around 50 mins long and it’s by Muhajir, the ISIS spokesman. Waiting for translation....
Apr 8, 2018 19 tweets 7 min read
1. How's everyone's weekend going? Ready for Part 3? Based on the dozens of interviews we did with citizens of the caliphate, here's an uncomfortable truth: In terms of the services they provided, ISIS sometimes outperformed the governments they usurped:… 2. Under ISIS, Mosul was a city terrorized by killers. It was also a city and a region where the streets were cleaner than they had been under the Iraqi government. It took weeks on the ground to get residents to open up about this detail of ISIS rule.
Apr 6, 2018 27 tweets 13 min read
1. Guys, ready for another Tweetstorm? I wanted to share with you how the ISIS documents we recovered in Iraq help answer the question of how a group, which revolted the world with its spectacles of violence, held on to so much territory for for so long?… 2. At least once a week, I get an email, a DM or a Tweet, asking me why I don't investigate how Country X is financing ISIS. (The value of X has ranged from Saudi Arabia and Qatar to the United States and the CIA). I'm including Exhibit A from yesterday:
Apr 5, 2018 14 tweets 7 min read
1. Hello everyone, I wanted to share what I learned from the more than 15,000 pages of ISIS documents that my team and I unearthed over five different trips to Iraq. We recovered the records in 11 different cities and towns. First up, how we found them.… 2. I learned years ago, that terrorists have a habit of amassing huge amounts of paperwork. In 2013, I discovered al-Qaeda's memos in Mali. which their fighters had hand-carried across the dunes. The documents spelled out the blueprint of their jihad:…
Feb 18, 2018 24 tweets 8 min read
1. Four days ago I flew back from Niger, where I went to ask: How did four American soldiers lose their lives in an ambush in a remote & forgotten corner of the world? Working with the A-team of @helenecooper @EricSchmittNYT @alanblinder @Tmgneff @malachybrowne, here’s our answer 2. When the four soldiers died on Oct. 4, lawmakers expressed surprise to learn that some 800 American personnel are now stationed in Niger building a drone base and training and assisting local troops. It’s emblematic of how the war on terror has morphed and expanded since 9/11.
Jan 24, 2018 24 tweets 8 min read
1. Some news today: A study by @F_reinares and @carolagc13 on the Barcelona attack reveals that the terrorists planned a far larger and more catastrophic event, including possibly a hit on the Eiffel Tower… 2. The data collected by the researchers indicates that the cell was planning to stuff explosives into two vans, which were going to be used as car bombs. One was to be used in Spain, but the other may have been destined for Paris. The researchers deduced this from the following:
Jan 13, 2018 14 tweets 5 min read
1. Do you remember the deadly attack in Niger last October, which killed four American soldiers, including two Green Berets? It's been more than 3 months. Just yesterday, a group loyal to ISIS claimed responsibility. Why did it take so long? 2. The popular perception remains that "ISIS claims everything." More than once, I have shared data to show that this is not the case. Niger is Exhibit A. The attack was one of the most deadly for U.S. forces in Africa - a natural "win" for ISIS. Yet they didn't claim till now
Nov 24, 2017 9 tweets 3 min read
1. Horrific violence in Egypt today: At least 235 people were killed at a Sufi mosque, one of the worst single-day death tolls that I can remember. No group has claimed responsibility for the violence as yet but the Sinai is one of ISIS’ areas of operation… 2. According to my colleague @declanwalsh, the attackers planted bombs inside the Sufi mosque, then gunned down worshippers as they ran out. They waited for emergency personnel to come, before hitting ambulances. Both ISIS and al-Qaeda have done this 1-2 style of attack before