It looks like your typical Dell laptop. But this one was left behind by an ISIS fighter who fled an attack by a group of Syrian rebels. When the rebels powered it on, it looked like it's hard drive was wiped clean. But then they found the 'hidden files' section. There were 35,347 hidden files, with training information, propaganda, even tips for avoiding authorities while traveling between jihadi hot spots. What was most troubling was a plan for a biological weapons attack using the bubonic plague. Foreign Policy reporter Harald Doornbos was able to look through the contents of the laptop. He said it contained instructions to 'basically destroy the world.'
Former CIA officer Bob Baer says terrorists are more likely to launch an attack using Ebola rather than Bubonic plague. He explains why in a conversation with Jake Tapper and former U.S. Ambassador-At-Large Daniel Benjamin.
Ben Hubbard has been covering the battle with ISIS for the New York Times. Anderson spoke to him from Baghdad. Here are the five most surprising things we learned from Ben about the leadership of ISIS.
- ISIS' top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has about two dozen deputies.
- These deputies are mostly middle-aged Iraqi men who spent time in U.S. custody.
- About 1/3 of al-Baghdadi's deputies were officers trained in Saddam Hussein's military
- The advantage they bring is to allow ISIS to operate as more of a military, rather than just an insurgency force.
- Ben says the creation of an inclusive Iraqi government is key to a longterm strategy for defeating ISIS.
This is not all Ben Hubbard had to say about ISIS. Watch his full interview with Anderson Cooper.
U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officials are working to verify the identity of a second American killed while fighting for ISIS in Syria. A family friend spoke to CNN and identified him as Abdirahmaan Muhumed. An anti-ISIS group already identified another American fighting for the terror group as Douglas McCain from Minnesota.
We are now learning that McCain's high school friend Troy Kastigar was killed fighting for an extremist group back in 2009. Jason Carroll spoke to Kastigar's mother. It is the first time she is speaking on television and said she believes the two were manipulated.
After days of waiting to see if President Obama would target ISIS with airstrikes inside Syria, he addressed reporters today saying:
'I have consulted with Congress throughout this process. I am confident that as Commander-in-Chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently. As our strategy develops, we we will continue to consult with Congress, and I do think it'll be important for Congress to weigh in, that our consultations with Congress continue to develop so that the American people are a part of the debate. But I don't want to put the cart before the horse. We don't have a strategy yet. '
Anderson spoke to Jim Acosta for the White House response to the President saying, 'We don't have a strategy yet.'
There are serious questions about whether ISIS can hold on to and govern areas it now controls. Anderson discussed it with the New York Times' Ben Hubbard.
An anti-ISIS group now says there was a second American killed fighting in Syria. The group that released photos of Douglas McCain's passport and his remains made the claim without providing any identification or evidence. U.S. officials estimate that dozens of Americans have tried to join ISIS. What would make them want to travel to Syria, pick up a weapon and fight for a group like that? Jason Carroll looks at the stories of other American jihadis.
Maajid Nawaz was once a member of a militant Muslim group. Today he is the author of "RADICAL: My Journey Out of Islamist Extremism." Anderson spoke to him about how groups like ISIS recruit westerners.
James Foley was kidnapped in November 2012 while reporting on the conflict in Syria. Today we are learning that the U.S. launched a failed attempt to rescue him and other hostages earlier this summer. Foley has now been beheaded by ISIS terrorists. We want to look back on the courageous way in which he lived his life and the work he was so passionate about.
A risky U.S. military mission in Iraq just wrapped up. A group of Special Forces spent 24 hours on Mount Sinjar and found that there are far fewer Yazidis trapped on the mountain than originally believed. They also report that the humanitarian air drops are helping those who are stuck there. Ivan Watson also got a firsthand look at the humanitarian crisis and reports that the situation in the region is still very desperate.
How does this new information from Mount Sinjar change U.S. plans for dealing with the humanitarian crisis and the threat from ISIS? Wolf Blitzer discussed possible strategies with retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, Quartz Managing Editor Bobby Ghosh and former Delta Force officer Jeff Beatty.
Warning: this video is violent and may be too difficult for some viewers to watch
It is hard to overstate ISIS' ambition or its thirst for blood. Recently a VICE News filmmaker spent time with ISIS fighters in Syria. He witnesses the grisly end and aftermath of a battle with a Syrian army unit.
What does it take to defeat a force like ISIS, when they are ready to use such brutal tactics? Anderson discussed possible strategies with retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Rick Francona and David Kilcullen, who advised Condoleezza Rice and Gen. Petraeus on counterinsurgency.
President Obama has authorized airstrikes in Iraq targeting ISIS. The announcement comes after the U.S. launched an airdrop operation delivering humanitarian relief to thousands of members of a nearly extinct sect known as the Yazidis. ISIS forced them from their homes and into the surrounding mountains to die without food or water. It isn't just the Yazidis on the run from ISIS. Christians, Kurds and other minorities are fleeing ISIS fighters who are armed with weapons stolen from the Iraqi military. Ivan Watson reports from Irbil, Iraq on the latest on events that led up to President Obama's decision to authorize these airstrikes and airdrops.
The Pentagon's airdrop operation in Iraq is both delicate and risky. Anderson discussed the logistics of all this with Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, New York Times reporter Stephen Farrell, and former White House Homeland Security Advisor Fran Townsend.
President Obama authorized targeted airstrikes and a humanitarian relief airdrop after ISIS' latest offensive in Iraq. Over the last few years, ISIS has grown to become one of the world's most brutal and dangerous Jihadist groups. Anderson Cooper looks at how they became so dangerous so fast.
Could ISIS retaliate against the U.S. with an attack on the American homeland? Anderson discussed this ISIS' capabilities with former CIA officer Bob Baer, National Security editor of The Guardian, Spencer Ackerman and Quartz managing editor Bobby Ghosh