Indeed, the very name of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) speaks to their territorial ambitions of creating a caliphate over a wide swath of land in the Middle East. The word “Sham” means Levant; Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey. (See “ISIS: the savage jihadists laying waste to Iraq”.)
Yesterday, June 29, 2014, ISIS announced that the Islamic caliphate is a reality, with ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “the Caliph” and “leader for Muslims everywhere.” (Incredibly, the United States once had him in custody at a detention facility in Iraq, the now-closed Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr, but the Obama administration let him go in 2009.)
In other words, ISIS has now morphed into IS, the Islamic State.
F. Michael Maloof reports for WND, that in an article from the 4th issue of Islamic State Report — IS’s web magazine to recruit would-be jihadist fighters from the West — IS talks about redrawing the map of the Middle East. The cover shows ISIS fighters crossing between Syria and Iraq without any sign of a demarcation between the two countries.
The article below is from the Islamic State Report, Issue #4, pp. 1-3.
I provided the English translations of Arabic words, between brackets . Where I could find no English translation, the Arabic word is followed by [?].
SMASHING THE BORDERS OF THE TAWAGHIT [?]
It was 98 years ago that the Allies of WWI forged a secret agreement to carve up the territories of the Muslim lands. This arrangement, referred to since as the Sykes-Picot agreement, mapped out parts of the Middle East and designated them as being under the influence or control of either France or the United Kingdom in anticipation of the subsequent conquest of the region. The negotiations took place over the course of a few months and the agreement was finalized in May of 1916. The French were represented by Francois George-Picot, and the British by Mark Sykes, hence the name “Sykes-Picot”. The agreement would be formed with Russian approval.
The areas of Iraq, Sham, and some neighboring regions were divided into four sections. The two parties would each have both a territory where they exercised direct control, and an adjacent territory over which they maintained influence. A fifth region in the area of Palestine was carved out as an international zone. While these partitions would not go on to form the modern day borders of the nations they encompassed including Iraq and Syria (this would be determined by a later treaty between the Allied Powers), they would form a symbolic precedent for subsequent partitioning of Muslim lands by crusader powers.
Years after the agreement, invisible borders would go on to separate between a Muslim and his brother, and pave the way for ruthless, nationalistic tawaghit to entrench the ummah’s [worldwide Muslim community] division rather than working to unite the Muslims under one imam [ruler] carrying the banner of truth. Each taghut [one who worships false god] in the lands of the Muslims was satisfied having his own piece of land to rule over and, in some cases, a grandiose title he assigned himself, such as Ghadda’s “King of the Kings of Africa”. This was in spite of that same ruler’s humiliated position as a kafir [unbeliever or infidel] puppet.
The consequences of the crusader partitions would play directly into the hands of the enemies of Islam, with the average Muslim’s unconditional wala‘ [?] for his fellow Muslims and bara’ [?] for the kuffar [plural form of kafir; infidels] being tempered by the notion of patriotism towards a piece of land demarcated by imaginary lines on a map, and the idea of an Islamic khilafah [caliphate or state] appearing more and more as an exotic fantasy and less and less as an attainable goal.
It reached to the extent that the best of the ummah were seen to be those who practiced the spiritual dimensions of Islam such as prayer and fasting, while living the status quo in the hopes that the Mahdi [a figure who would appear before the end of time] would someday suddenly emerge and restore the khilafah overnight without any effort on their own part. But the status quo wasn’t meant to last, for as the Prophet (PBUH) said: “There will be prophethood for as long as Allah wills it to be, then He will remove it when He wills. Then there will be khilafah on the prophetic methodology and it will be for as long as Allah wills, then He will remove it when He wills. Then there will be biting kingship (ie. rulers who would do whatever it takes to hold onto their power) for as long as Allah wills, then He will remove it when He wills. Then there will be oppressive kingship for as long as Allah wills, then He will remove it when He wills. Then there will be khilafah on the prophetic methodology.”
It was only a matter of time before the oppressive tawaghit of the Muslim world would begin to fall one-by-one to the swords of the mujahidin [Muslims engaging in holy war or jihadists], who would raise the banner of tawhid [central Islamic doctrine of divine unity], restore the hukm [Sharia law] of Allah, direct the masses back to the prophetic manhaj [?] of jihad [holy war] and away from the corruption of democracy and nationalism, and unite them under one imam.
One milestone after another would be reached in spite of the multitude of opposition that stood in the way of the truth. Last week, the mujahidin [jihadists] of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham reached yet another significant milestone on the path to restoring the prophetic khilafah. As the operation to capture Ninawa and advance towards Baghdad and the Radi strongholds to the south was underway, the lions succeeded in taking control of the border region between Wilayat Al-Barakah in Sham, and Wilayat Ninawa in Iraq, an in demolishing the barriers set up to enforce the crusader partitions of the past century.
The mujahidin had taken a major step in casting off the shackles of the kafir nations and proving that no kafir was strong enough to separate the Muslims from one another, neither with their artificial borders, nor with their corrupt ideologies, for the end result would always be in favor of the muttaqin [pious Muslim].
~End of Islamic State Report article~
Michael B. Kelly reports for Business Insider, June 29, 2014, that IS is well-funded (largely from extortion and selling oil) and has become attractive for extremists across the globe who want to join global jihad. The group is also savage, crucifying rival Syrian rebels and chopping off the hands of thieves.
Researcher Charles Lister told Reuters that the establishment of the Caliphate “is likely the most significant development in international jihadism since 9/11. Welcome to the new era of international jihad.”
IS’s announcement is seen as a direct challenge to al-Qaeda as the world’s premier jihadist organization. (For detailed accounts of how ISIS formed and split from al-Qaeda, check out this report by Zelin and this Politico article by Rania Abouzeid.)
IS is consolidating new gains in Iraq while also holding off Iraqi government forces that are bolstered by Iranian-trained militias — although it is important to note they are only able to do so with the cooperation of Sunni tribes, the civilian population, and former Baath generals who were loyal to Saddam Hussein.
Incredibly, instead of fighting ISIS/IS, Sheikh Ali Hatem al-Suleimani, the head of the powerful Dulaimi tribe that has been in open revolt against the Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki since last year, told The Globe and Mail that the IS “terrorists” make up no more than 10% of the insurgency and that their role in the uprising had been exaggerated by “social media, Facebook and Twitter. We are postponing our fight with [IS] until later. After Maliki is gone, [IS] will not be a big problem for us. Now is not the time to fight [IS], it’s the time to fight Maliki.”
It’s unclear how that fight would play out. The areas that appear to be under IS control (colored gray in map below) stretch from Aleppo in northwest Syria to Fallujah in central Iraq to a border post near both Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
To get an idea of the general IS mindset, here’s what an ISIS fighter recently told al-Monitor:
“Look at Egypt. Look at the way it ended for Muslims who cast their vote for [deposed President] Mohammed Morsi and believed in your democracy, in your lies,” The unnamed fighter said. “Democracy doesn’t exist. Do you think you are free? The West is ruled by banks, not by parliaments, and you know that. You know that you’re just a pawn, except you have no courage. You think of yourself, your job, your house … because you know you have no power. But fortunately, the jihad has started. Islam will get to you and bring you freedom.”