Tag Archives: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Islamic State says Muslims can cannibalize and harvest organs from live non-Muslims

First, an imam named Yasir Qadhi,who also is a college professor in Tennessee, says Muslims can take the property of Christians and Jews.

Note: An imam is an Islamic leadership position. For Shia or Shi’ite Muslims, imams are infallible.

Now, the Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) proclaims that, to save the life of a Muslim, Islamic law permits cannibalizing and taking the organs of “apostates,” who include non-Muslims.

The source of this revolting news is a January 31, 2015 memorandum issued by the ISIL Committee of Research and Fatwas, which was captured by U.S. special forces in Syria in May 2015. The committee reports directly to Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

A fatwa is a legal opinion given by a qualified Islamic jurist or mufti on issues pertaining to the Islamic law or sharia. The fatwa in question is Fatwa No. 68.

The news agency Reuters reports on Dec. 25, 2015, that U.S. officials say the document was among a trove of data and other information obtained by U.S. special forces in a raid in eastern Syria in May. The memo does not define “apostate,” though the Islamic State has killed or imprisoned non-Muslims, such as Christians, as well as Muslims who don’t follow Islamic State’s extremist views.

Below is the U.S. government’s translation of the memorandum in its entirety (words in bold are the memo’s; I supplied the dark red color for certain phrases). You can also read the memo for yourself in PDF here.

ISIL COMMITTEE OF RESEARCH AND FATWAS
FATWAS NO. 61, 62, and 64-68

[Page 7 of 9]

The Islamic State
The Research and Fatwa Committee
In the Name of Allah the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate
Fatwa Number: 68
Date: 31 JAN 2015

Question: Is it permissible to take the captured apostate’s body organs and give them to Muslims who are in need of them?

There is no doubt that the Muslim hospitals are overwhelmed with diseases that are incurable by doctors and harsh on the patients, such as heart and renal diseases and other fatal or degenerative diseases.

Allah Almighty knows best what is right and what is wrong and there is evidence from texts and Islamic principles and laws supporting the notion that transplanting healthy organs from an apostate’s body into a Muslim’s body in order to save the latter’s life or replace a damaged organ with it is permissible.

Allah Almighty said [TC: Verse 5:32 from the Koran] {if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people}. One notices that the context of this verse is general and covers all scenarios of saving the lives of believers including transplanting organs. Saving a Muslim from death or deterioration is an Islamic legal duty that should be performed with every legitimate way or financial means.

The jurists of the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools and others permitted, when necessary, the killing of the infidel combatant or the apostate should one need to consume their flesh for the purpose of saving his own life. [TC: the author cites texts written by the Imam al-Nawawi, an Islamic scholar, on the legitimacy of killing the infidel fighters and apostates and eating them.]

If the jurists had permitted, when necessary, the consumption of human flesh as a means counter to death or harm, then it is even more appropriate to transplant of organs from the apostate to the Muslim to save the life of the latter. This is especially the case since it was ruled that the apostate’s life and organs are not protected. On the contrary, the apostate’s life and organs don’t have to be respected and may be taken with impunity. Based on aforementioned, the categories of the apostate’s organs are broken down into the following cases:
1-The rule is applicable to organs that could be put to use in both cases–pre and post-mortem.
2-The organs that can only be used pre-mortem, and those are divided into two groups:
a- Organs the removal of which would not be fatal: It is not prohibited to remove this type of organs from a living body as death would defeat the purpose.
b- Organs that end the captive’s life if removed: The removal of that type is also not prohibited, even if it is fatal for the captive. A group of Islamic scholars have permitted, if necessary, one to kill the apostate in order to eat his flesh which is part of benefitting from his body. This encompasses everything that is needed to be taken from the apostate’s body.

The permission to transplant an apostate’s organs into a Muslim’s body facilitates, alleviates, and removes the difficulties endured by Muslims is corroborated by a reason strongly rooted in the pure Sharia. Allah Almighty says [TC: Verses follow from the Koran] {Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties}. He says: {Allah doth wish to lighten your (difficulties): For man was created Weak (in flesh)}. He says: {Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty}. He says: {has imposed no difficulties on you in religion}. Allah Almighty knows best.

Stamp:

stamp of ISIL Committee of Research & Fatwas

The Islamic State
The Caliphate State
The Research and Fatwa Committee

(End of translation)

Reuters claims that although the memo is “raising concerns that the violent extremist group may be trafficking in body parts,” there is no evidence to support the notion that it has already done so.

However, Iraq has accused Islamic State of harvesting human organs and trafficking them for profit. Iraq’s ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, told Reuters the documents should be examined by the U.N. Security Council as evidence that Islamic State could be trafficking in organs to raise cash.

According to Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, the Special Ops raid in May, which resulted in the death of Islamic State top financial official Abu Sayyaf and the capture of his wife, also netted 7 terabytes of data in the form of computer hard drives, thumb drives, CDs, DVDs and papers. 

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Blowback: ISIS leaders are former officers of Saddam Hussein’s army

Here’s an unintended consequence of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq which overthrew Saddam Hussein and his Baath party from power:

Most of the senior leaders of the murderous Islamic State (aka ISIS or ISIL) are former members of Hussein’s army.

Islamic State leadersLiz Sly writes for The Washington Post, April 4, 2015, that even with the influx of thousands of foreign fighters, almost all of the leaders of the Islamic State are former Iraqi military officers, including the members of its shadowy military and security committees, and the majority of its emirs and princes, according to Iraqis, Syrians and analysts who study the group.

They have brought to the organization the military expertise and some of the agendas of the former Baathists, as well as the smuggling networks developed to avoid sanctions in the 1990s and which now facilitate the Islamic State’s illicit oil trading.

Abu Hamza (not his real name), who had fled to Turkey last summer after growing disillusioned with the Islamic State, said, “All the decision makers are Iraqi, and most of them are former Iraqi officers. The Iraqi officers are in command, and they make the tactics and the battle plans. But the Iraqis themselves don’t fight. They put the foreign fighters on the front lines.”

Islamic State's senior leadersHassan Hassan, a Dubai-based analyst and co-author of the book ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror, said the raw cruelty of Hussein’s Baathist regime, the disbandment of the Iraqi army after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the subsequent insurgency and the marginalization of Sunni Iraqis by the Shiite-dominated government all are intertwined with the Islamic State’s ascent. “A lot of people think of the Islamic State as a terrorist group, and it’s not useful,” Hassan said. “It is a terrorist group, but it is more than that. It is a homegrown Iraqi insurgency, and it is organic to Iraq.”

The de-Baathification law promulgated by L.­ Paul Bremer, Iraq’s American ruler in 2003, has long been identified as one of the contributors to the original insurgency. At a stroke, 400,000 members of the defeated Iraqi army were barred from government employment, denied pensions — but also allowed to keep their guns.

National Defense University senior fellow Col. Joel Rayburn, who served as an adviser to top generals in Iraq and describes the links between Baathists and the Islamic State in his book, Iraq After America, said the U.S. military failed in the early years to recognize the role the disbanded Baathist officers would eventually come to play in the Islamic State, eclipsing the foreign fighters whom American officials preferred to blame. while the U.S. military always knew that the former Baathist officers had joined other insurgent groups and were giving tactical support to the Al Qaeda in Iraq affiliate, the precursor to the Islamic State, American officials didn’t anticipate that they would become not only adjuncts to al-Qaeda, but core members of the jihadist group. “We might have been able to come up with ways to head off the fusion, the completion of the Iraqization process,” Rayburn said. The former officers were probably not reconcilable, “but it was the labeling of them as irrelevant that was the mistake.

Under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph, the former officers became more than relevant. They were instrumental in the group’s rebirth from the defeats inflicted on insurgents by the U.S. military, which is now back in Iraq bombing many of the same men it had already fought twice before.

Bremer’s de-Baathification was further exacerbated by a new round of de-Baathification launched after U.S. troops left in 2011 by then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who set about firing even those officers who had been rehabilitated by the U.S. military.

Among them was Brig. Gen. Hassan Dulaimi, a former intelligence officer in the old Iraqi army who was recruited back into service by U.S. troops in 2006, as a police commander in Ramadi, the capital of the long restive province of Anbar. Within months of the American departure, however, Dulaimi was dismissed, losing his salary and his pension, along with 124 other officers who had served alongside the Americans.

The crisis of ISIS didn’t happen by chance,” Dulaimi said in an interview in Baghdad. “It was the result of an accumulation of problems created by the Americans and the [Iraqi] government.

Dulaimi cited the case of a close friend, a former intelligence officer in Baghdad who was fired in 2003 and struggled for many years to make a living. He now serves as the Islamic State’s wali, or leader, in the Anbar town of Hit. Dulaimi recalls: “I last saw him in 2009. He complained that he was very poor. He is an old friend, so I gave him some money. He was fixable. If someone had given him a job and a salary, he wouldn’t have joined the Islamic State. There are hundreds, thousands like him. The people in charge of military operations in the Islamic State were the best officers in the former Iraqi army, and that is why the Islamic State beats us in intelligence and on the battlefield.

Islamic State's notable officialsThe Islamic State’s seizure of territory was also smoothed by the Maliki government’s broader persecution of the Sunni minority, which intensified after U.S. troops withdrew and left many ordinary Sunnis willing to welcome the extremists as an alternative to the often brutal Iraqi security forces.

But it was the influx of Baathist officers into the ranks of the Islamic State itself that propelled its fresh military victories. By 2013, Baghdadi had surrounded himself with former officers, who oversaw the Islamic State’s expansion in Syria and drove the offensives in Iraq.

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~StMA

Major U.S. magazine breaks with Obama admin by calling ISIS Islamic and apocalyptic

In his bestseller book, People of the Lie, the late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, M.D., wrote that just as physicians must first properly diagnose and name a disease in order to cure it, we must first name a problem in order to combat it.

NY-Post-Frontpage-Obama-Islam-2-19-2015Although ISIS/ISIL calls itself the Islamic State, President Barack Obama refuses to identify the group that now controls a third of Syria as either Islamic or a state. Instead, in his speech of Sept. 10, 2014 and since, he calls the Muslim jihadists — who have been slaughtering Christians in Iraq, Syria, and most recently beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya — generic “terrorists.”

Incredibly, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf recently proclaimed that America can’t win against the Islamic State “by killing them” and ought instead to focus on addressing the root problem of their poor economy by helping the murderous jihadists get jobs.

Taking their cue from Obama, U.S. media like NBC News also call ISIS “terrorists,” absent any qualifying adjective. And although he denounced the beheading of the Coptic Christians and called them “martyrs,” Pope Francis similarly refuses to identify their killers as Islamic.

The tide is now beginning to turn against this refusal, prompted either by misplaced politically-correct politesse or willful blindness or just plain cowardice, on the part of world leaders to call a spade a spade.

Yesterday, Feb. 19, 2015, former CIA director James Woolsey effectively called Obama a coward when he told a CNN audience that the Commander In Chief of the most powerful military in the world “looks as if he’s afraid of using the adjective ‘Islamic’ to describe the terrorists from ISIS, al-Qaeda and other international terror groups bent on mass-murder and global destruction.”

Now, a major U.S. magazine is confronting the problem head-on.

The Atlantic, a magazine on foreign affairs, politics, the economy and cultural trends, was founded in 1857. Based in Washington, D.C., the magazine has a national reputation as a high-quality review with a moderate worldview, having won more National Magazine Awards than any other monthly magazine. It is primarily aimed at a target audience of serious readers and “thought leaders.”

The AtlanticIn the cover story by Graeme Wood for its March 2015 issue, “What ISIS Really Wants,” The Atlantic points a finger at the Obama administration — that its refusal to call ISIS “Islamic” reflects “confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors” in U.S. policy.

The author, Graeme Wood, speaks Russian and Arabic. He is a Canadian journalist and a contributing editor to The Atlantic who has written for The New Yorker, The American Scholar, The New Republic, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Wall Street Journal and the International Herald Tribune 

Below are excerpts from Wood’s article, which though long, is important and deserves your attention. The article consists of an introduction and the following five parts:

  1. Devotion
  2. Territory
  3. The Apocalypse
  4. The Fight
  5. Dissuasion

What ISIS Really Wants

The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.

Graeme Wood
March 2015

What is the Islamic State?

Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.

Islamic State's caliph: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

Islamic State’s caliph: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.

Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.

The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.

We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.

Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)

We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. […] In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.

The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam. […]

The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.

Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to […] the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.

I. Devotion

In November, the Islamic State released an infomercial-like video tracing its origins to bin Laden. […] Notably unmentioned: bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, the owlish Egyptian eye surgeon who currently heads al‑Qaeda. Zawahiri has not pledged allegiance to Baghdadi […] But the split between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been long in the making, and begins to explain, at least in part, the outsize bloodlust of the latter.

Zawahiri’s companion in isolation is a Jordanian cleric named Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, 55, who has a fair claim to being al-Qaeda’s intellectual architect and the most important jihadist unknown to the average American newspaper reader. On most matters of doctrine, Maqdisi and the Islamic State agree. Both are closely identified with the jihadist wing of a branch of Sunnism called Salafism, after the Arabic al salaf al salih, the “pious forefathers.” These forefathers are the Prophet himself and his earliest adherents, whom Salafis honor and emulate as the models for all behavior, including warfare, couture, family life, even dentistry.

Maqdisi taught Zarqawi, who went to war in Iraq with the older man’s advice in mind. In time, though, Zarqawi surpassed his mentor in fanaticism, and eventually earned his rebuke. At issue was Zarqawi’s penchant for bloody spectacle—and, as a matter of doctrine, his hatred of other Muslims, to the point of excommunicating and killing them. […]

Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. […] That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God.

Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.

Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.

[…] the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.

Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. […] But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”

Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States […] According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. […] He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. […]

In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”

The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.

Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.” […]

“We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”

II. Territory

Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die. […]

The caliphate […] is not just a political entity but also a vehicle for salvation. Islamic State propaganda regularly reports the pledges of baya’a (allegiance) rolling in from jihadist groups across the Muslim world. […]

To be the caliph, one must meet conditions outlined in Sunni law—being a Muslim adult man of Quraysh descent; exhibiting moral probity and physical and mental integrity; and having ’amr, or authority. This last criterion […] is the hardest to fulfill, and requires that the caliph have territory in which he can enforce Islamic law. Baghdadi’s Islamic State achieved that long before June 29 […] and as soon as it did, a Western convert within the group’s ranks …who was] “something of a leader”—began murmuring about the religious obligation to declare a caliphate […] further delay would be sinful. […]

After Baghdadi’s July sermon, a stream of jihadists began flowing daily into Syria with renewed motivation. Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German author and former politician who visited the Islamic State in December, reported the arrival of 100 fighters at one Turkish-border recruitment station in just two days. His report, among others, suggests a still-steady inflow of foreigners, ready to give up everything at home for a shot at paradise in the worst place on Earth. […]

The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. […] In return, the caliph commands obedience—and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates. […]

III. The Apocalypse

All Muslims acknowledge that God is the only one who knows the future. But they also agree that he has offered us a peek at it, in the Koran and in narrations of the Prophet. The Islamic State differs from nearly every other current jihadist movement in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character. It is in this casting that the Islamic State is most boldly distinctive from its predecessors, and clearest in the religious nature of its mission.

In broad strokes, al-Qaeda acts like an underground political movement, with worldly goals in sight at all times—the expulsion of non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula, the abolishment of the state of Israel, the end of support for dictatorships in Muslim lands. The Islamic State has its share of worldly concerns (including, in the places it controls, collecting garbage and keeping the water running), but the End of Days is a leitmotif of its propaganda. Bin Laden rarely mentioned the apocalypse, and when he did, he seemed to presume that he would be long dead when the glorious moment of divine comeuppance finally arrived. […]

During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world.  […]

[Beliefs] based on mainstream Sunni sources […] appear all over the Islamic State’s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.

The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq’s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Rome’s Waterloo or its Antietam. […]

Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. Western media frequently miss references to Dabiq in the Islamic State’s videos, and focus instead on lurid scenes of beheading. […] During fighting in Iraq in December, after mujahideen (perhaps inaccurately) reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure […]

The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who “Rome” is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely.

After its battle in Dabiq […] the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth […] An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory. […]

IV. The Fight

The ideological purity of the Islamic State has one compensating virtue: it allows us to predict some of the group’s actions. Osama bin Laden was seldom predictable. […] By contrast, the Islamic State boasts openly about its plans—not all of them, but enough so that by listening carefully, we can deduce how it intends to govern and expand.

[…] detailed descriptions of how the Islamic State must conduct its foreign policy, now that it is a caliphate. It has already taken up what Islamic law refers to as “offensive jihad,” the forcible expansion into countries that are ruled by non-Muslims […]  the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph. […] the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.

[…] Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin. […]

The modern international system, born of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, relies on each state’s willingness to recognize borders, however grudgingly. For the Islamic State, that recognition is ideological suicide. Other Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, have succumbed to the blandishments of democracy and the potential for an invitation to the community of nations, complete with a UN seat. Negotiation and accommodation have worked, at times, for the Taliban as well. […] To the Islamic State these are not options, but acts of apostasy.

The United States and its allies have reacted to the Islamic State belatedly and in an apparent daze. The group’s ambitions and rough strategic blueprints were evident in its pronouncements and in social-media chatter as far back as 2011, when it was just one of many terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and hadn’t yet committed mass atrocities. Adnani, the spokesman, told followers then that the group’s ambition was to “restore the Islamic caliphate,” and he evoked the apocalypse, saying, “There are but a few days left.” Baghdadi had already styled himself “commander of the faithful,” a title ordinarily reserved for caliphs, in 2011. […]

If we had identified the Islamic State’s intentions early, and realized that the vacuum in Syria and Iraq would give it ample space to carry them out, we might, at a minimum, have pushed Iraq to harden its border with Syria and preemptively make deals with its Sunnis. That would at least have avoided the electrifying propaganda effect created by the declaration of a caliphate just after the conquest of Iraq’s third-largest city. Yet, just over a year ago, Obama told The New Yorker that he considered ISIS to be al-Qaeda’s weaker partner. “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” the president said.

Our failure to appreciate the split between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the essential differences between the two, has led to dangerous decisions. Last fall, to take one example, the U.S. government consented to a desperate plan to save Peter Kassig’s life. The plan facilitated—indeed, required—the interaction of some of the founding figures of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and could hardly have looked more hastily improvised.

It entailed the enlistment of Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, the Zarqawi mentor and al-Qaeda grandee, to approach Turki al-Binali, the Islamic State’s chief ideologue and a former student of Maqdisi’s, even though the two men had fallen out due to Maqdisi’s criticism of the Islamic State.[…] the decision to play matchmaker for America’s two main terrorist antagonists reveals astonishingly poor judgment.

Chastened by our earlier indifference, we are now meeting the Islamic State via Kurdish and Iraqi proxy on the battlefield, and with regular air assaults. Those strategies haven’t dislodged the Islamic State from any of its major territorial possessions, although they’ve kept it from directly assaulting Baghdad and Erbil and slaughtering Shia and Kurds there.

Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victims’ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.

One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.

And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?

Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.

The humanitarian cost of the Islamic State’s existence is high. But its threat to the United States is smaller than its all too frequent conflation with al-Qaeda would suggest. Al-Qaeda’s core is rare among jihadist groups for its focus on the “far enemy” (the West); most jihadist groups’ main concerns lie closer to home. That’s especially true of the Islamic State, precisely because of its ideology. It sees enemies everywhere around it, and while its leadership wishes ill on the United States, the application of Sharia in the caliphate and the expansion to contiguous lands are paramount. Baghdadi has said as much directly: in November he told his Saudi agents to “deal with the rafida [Shia] first … then al-Sulul [Sunni supporters of the Saudi monarchy] … before the crusaders and their bases.” […]

A few “lone wolf” supporters of the Islamic State have attacked Western targets, and more attacks will come. But most of the attackers have been frustrated amateurs, unable to immigrate to the caliphate because of confiscated passports or other problems. Even if the Islamic State cheers these attacks—and it does in its propaganda—it hasn’t yet planned and financed one. (The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January was principally an al‑Qaeda operation.) […]

Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.

Even so, the death of the Islamic State is unlikely to be quick, and things could still go badly wrong: if the Islamic State obtained the allegiance of al‑Qaeda—increasing, in one swoop, the unity of its base—it could wax into a worse foe than we’ve yet seen. The rift between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda has, if anything, grown in the past few months; the December issue of Dabiq featured a long account of an al‑Qaeda defector who described his old group as corrupt and ineffectual, and Zawahiri as a distant and unfit leader. But we should watch carefully for a rapprochement.

Without a catastrophe such as this, however, or perhaps the threat of the Islamic State’s storming Erbil, a vast ground invasion would certainly make the situation worse.

V. Dissuasion

It would be facile, even exculpatory, to call the problem of the Islamic State “a problem with Islam.” The religion allows many interpretations, and Islamic State supporters are morally on the hook for the one they choose. And yet simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them. […]

That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time.

~StMA

ISIS announces Islamic caliphate is a reality

ISIS ISIS, the militant jihadists terrorizing and overtaking city after city in Iraq, have made known their aspiration of installing a pan-Islamic caliphate or theocratic.

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”.) New Levant

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.

Islamic State Report 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 yeartold 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.

Spread of ISIS Iraq Syria

Green: Mainstreem Syrian rebels; Red: Assad regime; Pink: Iraqi government; Yellow: Kurds.

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.”

~StMA

ISIS: the savage jihadists laying waste to Iraq

Iraq is rapidly spiraling into anarchy and civil war.

In the face of rapid territorial takeovers by the Al Qaeda-affiliated ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants, Iraq’s senior Shiite Muslim cleric are taking matters into their own hands.

On Friday, June 13, 2014, the cleric issued a decree, calling on every able-bodied Shiite man to go to war against the Sunni ISIS. Thousands of Shiite Iraqis — many with militia experience from the 2006-2008 Sunni-Shiite sectarian war that killed thousands — are flooding the cities of Baghdad, Najaf and Karbala to enlist in organized battle units.

Oil industry analysts are warning the turmoil in Iraq could reduce the flow of Iraqi crude and  send gas prices soaring in the United States. Already, the price of crude oil has shot up to $107 per barrel – the highest in 10 months. Oil industry analyst Phill Flynn said if Baghdad falls to ISIS, “the price you’re paying at the pump today is gonna look like a bargain in a couple weeks.”

On Friday, June 13, as he departed for a long weekend in California of golf and political fundraising, President Obama said the U.S. will not send troops but America will “do our part” to help Iraq, whatever that means. The next day, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered an aircraft carrier moved into the Persian Gulf, readying it in case CIC Obama decides to pursue “a military option.”

Today (Sunday), June 15, USA Today reports that as deadly explosions rocked Baghdad, “some” staff from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad are being evacuated and security beefed up.

Meanwhile, the ISIS is littering the sides of roadways with the beheaded corpses of Iraqis they’ve killed. Most recently, ISIS claims it has massacred 1,700 Iraqi soldiers. Photos (see below) posted on a militant website show masked ISIS fighters loading captives onto flatbed trucks before forcing them to lie face-down in a shallow ditch with their arms tied behind their backs. The bodies of the captives are then shown, soaked in blood after being shot. The authenticity of the photos have been confirmed by Iraq’s top military spokesman, Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi.

ISIS mass murder of Iraqi troops

To further complicate matters, neighboring Iran has sent 2,000 advance troops to Iraq. Tehran even hinted that Iran is prepared to cooperate with the “Great Satan” U.S. to support the beleaguered Iraqi government.

So who are the ISIS?

ISIS

Founding

Formed in the early years of the Iraq War in 2004 as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad or The Organization of Monotheism and Jihad (JTJ), the group went through at least four name changes before it adopted its present name on April 9, 2013, after it had expanded into Syria.

Name

Today, the group is known variously as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The word “Sham” means Levant; Levant today consists of the island of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey. All of which speaks to the territorial ambitions and objectives of ISIS.

For the sake of convenience, in this post, the group will be referred to as ISIS, even its pre-2013 versions.

Association with al-Qaeda

When it was first founded in 2004, ISIS had pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda when the group’s then leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi swore loyalty to Osama bin Laden. In February 2014, however, after an 8-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with ISIS.

IDEOLOGY AND GOALS

ISIS is animated by the beliefs of Wahhabism, the same radical offshoot branch of Sunni Islam as al-Qaeda’s. Wahhabism aims to return to what adherents believe to be the earliest fundamental Islamic sources of the Quran and Hadith (Muhammad’s teachings and deeds), with inspiration from the teachings of Medieval theologian Ibn Taymiyyah and early jurist Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

In 2004, the U.S. State Department classified ISIS – under its former name of Al Qaeda in Iraq — as a terrorist organization. In July, 2013, the European Parliament identified the Wahhabi movement as the source of global terrorism and a threat to Muslim cultures across the whole world.

The goal of ISIS is to install a “pure” (i.e., Wahhabi) caliphate or pan-Islamic state, led by a supreme religious and political leader, the caliph. In other words, ISIS aims to create an Islamic theocracy, ruled by Sharia law, over a wide swath of land in the Middle East, including Cyprus, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and part of southern Turkey.

LEADER

ISIS is led by an ambitious Iraqi militant known by his nom de guerre of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head. Incredibly, the United States once had him in custody at a detention facility in Iraq, but Barack Hussein Obama let him go. In 2009, Al Baghdadi was among the prisoners released from the now-closed Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in Iraq.

Abu Bakr al-BaghdadiThese are the only two known photos of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Left photo was taken 5 years ago; right photo is more recent.

MembersHIP AND TERRITORIES

On 13 October 2006, ISIS announced the establishment of the Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed authority over Baghdad, Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, Ninawa and parts of Babel. In 2012, ISIS in Iraq more than doubled the number of its members to about 2,500. Fox News says ISIS commands as many as 10,000 fighters.

Following the 2013 expansion of the group into Syria and the announcement of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the number of provinces it claimed increased to 16. ISIS in Northern Syria is described by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as “the strongest group” in that region. In early June 2014, ISIS began large-scale offensives in Iraq. It has seized control of Tikrit, most of Mosul — the second most populous city in Iraq — and the surrounding Nineveh province, and is advancing on Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

ISIS territories

FUNDING

The funding of ISIS comes from several sources, including:

  • Extortion: demanding money from truck drivers and threatening to blow up businesses.
  • Robbery: robbing banks and gold shops.
  • Looting: During the battle of Mosul in June 2014, ISIS allegedly became the richest terror group in the world after looting US$429 million and a large quantity of gold bullion from Mosul’s central bank. That would explain why jihadists from around the world, including the UK and US, are flocking to Iraq. Analyst Brown Moses wrote on Twitter, “With $429 million, ISIS could [recruit and] pay 60,000 fighters around $600 a month for a year.” The group has recently started paying $200 a month to each of its fighters to boost recruitment, according to the U.S. Army War College.
  • Private donations: French television channel France 24 reported that ISIS “receives funding via private donations from the Gulf states.” In an interview with France 24, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of openly funding the ISIS. (Note that the Obama administration, in exchange for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, had released five senior Taliban terrorists from Gitmo to precisely Qatar. See “The law that Obama violated in releasing 5 terrorists from Gitmo in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl” and “Obama ignored advice of military & CIA against Bergdahl prisoner swap“.)

Sources: Wikipedia, Fox News, Daily Mail.

~StMA